10/07/2011 11:56AM

Keeneland: Motion making strategic move with Aruna

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Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Aruna, w ith Ramon Dominguez riding, wins the All Along on the Colonial Downs turf.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Earlier this year, trainer Graham Motion took a horse who had raced exclusively on turf and Polytrack and molded him into the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Where Animal Kingdom trod, now steps Aruna. An accomplished, multiple stakes winner on turf, Aruna will move to Polytrack for the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster Stakes for older fillies and mares on Sunday at Keeneland. The Spinster is a Win and You’re In race, earning its winner a fees- paid spot in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Nov. 4, and though Aruna has yet to race on dirt, the wheels are turning inside Motion’s analytical mind. The formula is turf to Polytrack to dirt at Churchill Downs.

BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Racing schedule, replays, and past winners »

“It’s something you have to think about if she runs well,” said Motion, who also has the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf under consideration for Aruna. “It would be an interesting dilemma. I hate to get ahead of myself, but it has crossed my mind.”

Especially, Motion added, in light of the changing complexion of the Ladies’ Classic, which two months ago looked like it would be headed by Blind Luck and Havre de Grace.

First things first, though, and that’s the Spinster, which drew a bulky, competitive field of 13 going 1 1/8 miles. All carry 124 pounds, except for the 3-year-old Theyskens’ Theory, who carries 121.

The Spinster highlights a 10-race card, beginning at 1:15 p.m. Eastern, that also includes the Grade 3 Bourbon for 2-year-old grass runners. Also of interest is an appearance by Barbaro’s half-brother Lentenor in the final race, a turf allowance. He takes on last year’s Breeders’ Futurity winner, J.B.’s Thunder.

Aruna, to be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, drew well for the Spinster, in post 2. She was originally scheduled to run in last week’s Flower Bowl at Belmont Park, but Motion rerouted her here when wet weather left the Belmont turf course bottomless. Aruna most recently finished second in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga, and though all 11 of her starts have been on turf, she has done all her recent training on the all-weather surface at Fair Hill, Md.

“I really don’t have any concern that she’ll handle the track at Keeneland,” Motion said. “She breezes on the track at Fair Hill every weekend and handles it well. I’d be surprised if she didn’t handle it.”

Both Shug McGaughey and Todd Pletcher have a pair of runners in the race. McGaughey entered both Garden City runner-up Theyskens’ Theory – who also is entered in the First Lady on grass on Saturday – and Protesting, who was a distant fourth in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga in her last start.

“I was a little disappointed in her last race,” McGaughey said of Protesting, who won a maiden race here in 2009 and was fourth in last year’s Ashland. “She never got into the flow of the race. A lot of horses got sick at Saratoga, and though she didn’t show it, I wondered if maybe she fought off something. She’s trained well since, so we’ll take a shot.”

Pletcher has Embur’s Song, a synthetic specialist who won the Doubledogdare here earlier this year and is 2 for 2 at Keeneland, and Super Espresso, who was fifth in the Personal Ensign and is racing on synthetic for the first time.

Pachattack was second in the Personal Ensign in her last start, and, perhaps more significantly, was a romping winner on Polytrack in the Arlington Matron in May.

Stars to Shine rates a big chance off her form at Woodbine, where, despite primarily racing on turf, she did make two starts on Polytrack, winning both.

The late-running La Gran Bailadora won the Kentucky Cup Distaff on Turfway’s Polytrack in her last start, though she was a distant second to Pachattack in the Arlington Matron.

Tesoro de Amor is making her first start on synthetic. She never fired after stumbling at the break in her last start, the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth.

Tapitsfly, the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, was entered in the Spinster after landing on the also-eligible list of Saturday’s First Lady. This would be her first try on synthetic.

Dynazaper, Sugar Again, and Well Monied complete the field.