The Spiral


While the madness begins in Basketball, the prep action comparatively dies down in the horse racing ranks on the Road to Kentucky. While the Sunland Derby will take place Sunday, The Spiral at Turfway Park is the only double-point event for this week’s contest and the gate is JAMMED. For once there’s a fairly balanced looking pace scenario, but the pace nonetheless should not be blistering. Like the Southwest, the Battaglia-Spiral double has not been achieved in quite some time (Concerto in 1997 to be exact) and therefore this round I’ll pass on Solitary Ranger. For once, I’ll try a bomb….

No one’s shipping percentages into Turfway are enough to make their charge a standout but per usual, Mike Maker is having a splendid spring meet and brings back Harry’s Holiday for a second try around two turns. The first wasn’t great but wasn’t awful either – And Maker seems to think there’s enough in the tank on this one-time $30,000 claimer to try graded company again. He’s done alright with this type of move as well, winning with a couple of his young horses stretching out for the second time. The names Hansen and Joha should sound familiar, and those were the victorious colts. This one has a long way to go to fill those horseshoes but Maker has only done this once since Joha, and that was the Ramseys’ Vicar’s In Trouble. Perhaps he just wants to sprint but there’s plenty of room for improvement for a colt getting a new pilot who’s had plenty of success for ‘Harry’s conditioner. He’s a reach but why not?

If you judge them by the company they keep, obviously Tamarando jumps off the page with Shared Belief and California Chrome handing him his most recent defeats. Hollendorfer knows how to win this race but those victories are pretty far back in the rear view mirror…in the past five years he’s shipped one horse in and Russian Greek ran 8th in this race. He wasn’t exactly slumping either, coming of a thrashing in the El Camino Real but winning the California Derby and Gold Rush prior. Comparing the two horses is moot, but Tamarando will take a good amount of the action in the Spiral and could be vulnerable outside of his Californian sandbox. He’s probably the best horse in the race but haven’t we also seen what he has to offer? It’s hard to knock a horse that’s only missed the board once but it’s also hard to take one in a contest when there are 11 other possibilities.

Catalano’s pair will take money as well, but the setup of the race will probably favor Poker Player rather than Solitary Ranger. Either way, he picks his spots shipping into Florence and the exacta from the Battaglia should make their presence felt at short prices. The possibilities underneath in this race are endless, as many of the barns entered run second or third when they ship in, including Todd Pletcher and Mark Casse. In fact, they’ve filled exactas and tris in this race a few times in the past and seem to have similar horses in this year’s renewal. Find a horse to focus on up top and punch numbers until they open the gate underneath if playing tris & supers. Good luck, something about this race says upset….

Because it’s March Madness…..

And my basketball bracket will go downhill quickly, why not? If you had to select a one seed three year old from each region, who would it be? For giggles and…..well, just giggles I guess.

East – Samraat – I am just not as familiar with the faces doing battle in the East as anywhere else but I would not be surprised to see him continue his roll in the Wood at another short price. In Trouble interests me but he ran such a nice race off the shelf in the Gotham that regression wouldn’t be unexpected. If no one sets a new track record in the Wood, this is not the direction I’ll be looking in for a Derby winner.

Midwest – Tapiture – Depending on who comes for the Arkansas Derby, he will be the strong favorite again and deservingly so. Should Bayern ship, my feelings will change but with the hope that he stays home the Asmussen charge should establish himself as the best in the Midwest. Hoppertunity had to dig deep to outgame him in the game of bumper cars in the Rebel, but the stretch run leaves you with the impression that the winner wasn’t necessarily the best. The entire contingent that has wintered in this region has not been able to train as desired for the most part, and the three year olds are playing catch up. Again, not really looking this way for the winner but the summer races and perhaps even the Preakness may suit them better.

South – Cairo Prince – He’s the king until unseated, right (no pun intended)? We’ve seen mixed results from those in his wake in the Holy Bull, but the way he won it makes all of that a little easier to take. Social Inclusion will keep this race interesting, but we’ve seen plenty of horses win their first two lifetime races impressively and come back to earth once looked in the eye by this type.

West – Bayern – I’m stubborn. Indications are pointing towards this one heading to Arkansas rather than staying home, but if he does California Chrome will have his hands full. He had things his own way in his allowance win but he doesn’t seem like a horse that needs the lead, he was just that much best that day. I won’t gush, but my eggs are in this basket at this juncture.

Angela Hermann

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