10/09/2011 6:21PM

Keeneland: Switch to Polytrack no problem for Aruna in Spinster

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Aruna could be headed to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic after her win in Sunday's Juddmonte Spinster.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The confidence that trainer Graham Motion had in Aruna being able to handle a switch to Polytrack proved well-founded on Sunday at Keeneland, as Aruna came charging down the center of the course to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes.

The Spinster is a Win in You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, and even though Aruna has yet to race on dirt, Motion – as he had before the Spinster – reiterated that the Ladies’ Classic remains a viable option for Aruna.

BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE: Racing schedule, replays, and past winners >>

“We’re definitely going to have to think about it,” Motion said. “I’ve had a lot of luck going from the turf to the synthetic to the dirt at Churchill Downs, and I love the mile and an eighth for her.”

The Spinster, like the Ladies’ Classic, is at 1 1/8 miles. The other option for Aruna would be the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and though that surface is the one over which Aruna has far more experience, she has never run farther than 1 1/8 miles in her seven starts in this country.

Aruna ended up in the Spinster after wet weather forced Motion to scratch her from last week’s Flower Bowl at Belmont. Aruna’s strong overall form, however, made her the 2-1 favorite against 11 others in the Spinster, even though she was running on Polytrack for the first time after 11 prior starts on grass.

“To be honest, I’d have been disappointed if she didn’t run well,” Motion said. “Obviously, I didn’t know she was going to win, but I would have been disappointed if she hadn’t run a big race today. She’s a really nice filly.”

Aruna ($6.80) was mid-pack during the early going, then was forced to check slightly when between horses at the three-furlong pole. She then circled Pachattack, who had been to her outside at the three-furlong pole, and launched a powerful rally under jockey Ramon Dominguez.

“At the three-eighths pole, I got squeezed out of position,” Dominguez said. “Once I got her to the outside, which was very, very wide, she still didn’t miss a beat and came running for me pretty good down the lane.”

Aruna beat Pachattack by a half-length, and was timed in 1:47.88 for 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack. La Gran Bailadora, 11th early, finished well to get third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Pachattack. Protesting, Stars to Shine, Well Monied, Sugar Again, Dynazaper, Tesoro de Amor, Super Espresso, Embur’s Song, and Tapitsfly completed the finish, in that order.

Aruna, 4, was bred and is owned by the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings Ltd. She has now won 6 times in 12 starts, and has 5 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts since arriving here last summer from France. In her most-recent start, she was second in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.

Motion now will train Aruna up to the Breeders’ Cup. If he decides to go in the Ladies’ Classic, he will be following the same pattern of his Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, who raced exclusively on grass and synthetic before his date with destiny at Churchill Downs last May.