03/22/2015 11:56AM

Road to the Derby analysis: Spiral Stakes

Coady Photography
Dubai Sky wins the Spiral Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park.

Grade 3, $535,750 Spiral Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park, March 21, 2015
(50 Derby qualifying points for a win, 20 for second, 10 for third, 5 for fourth)

Winner: Dubai Sky
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Owner: Three Chimneys Farm and Besilu Stables
Beyer Speed Figure: 92

DUBAI SKY won his fourth straight race and transferred his good turf form to Polytrack with this victory, which gave him enough points be assured of a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 2. Although he was not an original nominee to the Triple Crown for $600 earlier this year, his connections had until 48 hours after the Spiral to put up $6,000 to make him eligible at the second deadline, and 24 hours before the deadline, it was announced – to no one’s surprise – that he would be nominated.

If he runs in the Derby, it will be because of how he trains over the dirt at Churchill Downs. This is the same scenario used by Animal Kingdom in 2011. Not until a brilliant work on the dirt the weekend prior to the Derby was he committed to the race. That worked out pretty well.

The encouraging aspects about Dubai Sky are that he clearly has a will to win, and his sire, Candy Ride, throws horses that can run on anything – turf, synthetic, and dirt. However, he has picked off low-hanging fruit so far, and he’s never faced the quality of the horses he would encounter in the Derby.

In the Spiral, Dubai Sky started from the outside post in a field of 11, but that seemed to be the place to be on this card. Those who ran widest did best, the Spiral finish included. Dubai Sky bumped with METABOSS leaving the gate but showed good tactical speed to get up into fourth, three paths wide, heading into the first turn. He was keen down the backstretch while racing into a brisk headwind and engaged the leaders while four paths wide, stayed three paths wide on the far turn, kicked clear in upper stretch, and was clearly best. He was the only horse near the lead who was around at the end, underscoring the quality of his performance.

CONQUEST TYPHOON, who finished second, saved ground around the first turn while in fifth, gradually angled out around the far turn, and was four paths wide into the lane while right on Dubai Sky’s hip. He was no match for the winner but went steadily to the wire to hold the place.

FIRESPIKE, who finished third, drafted right behind Dubai Sky in the three path heading into the first turn, raced four paths wide on the far turn between Conquest Typhoon and Metaboss, was fanned to the five path entering the lane, and was one-paced through the lane while gradually gaining on Conquest Typhoon in the closing yards.

TASK FORCE GLORY, who was fourth, followed Conquest Typhoon around the first turn, had to wait in a bit of traffic down the backstretch, was able to save ground on the far turn, and rallied to pass some tired pacesetters such as ROYAL SON.

Royal Son, who was fifth, broke from the rail but was angled to the three path around the first turn, just behind and outside of WATCHYOUROWNBOBBER and WIRELESS FUTURE. He went with Dubai Sky when the eventual winner moved to engage the leaders down the backstretch, battled for the lead between Wireless Future and Dubai Sky on the far turn, came under an aggressive ride at the quarter pole, but gradually tired.

Metaboss, who finished sixth, was near the back of the pack while three paths wide around the first turn, stayed wide down the backstretch, wound up four paths wide on the far turn and was fanned to the six path entering the lane, then had no rally thereafter.

Wireless Future was part of a hot opening quarter (22.99 seconds), poked his head in front heading into the backstretch while second widest of a four-abreast charge, raced inside Royal Son and Dubai Sky around the far turn, could not keep pace entering the lane, and did not change leads while tiring to finish seventh.

ANOTHER LEMON DROP, who was eighth, raced inside Metaboss near the back of the pack around the first turn, had to wait in traffic nearing the far turn, but had little to offer once clear.

MAGIC OF BELIEVING, who was ninth, was shuffled back and was in front of just one horse heading around the first turn, steadily lost ground down the backstretch, and never was involved.

BIG FAMILY, who finished 10th, was outrun into the first turn and seemed to resent the kickback, then was outrun.

Watchyourownbobber finished last of 11. He led through the quick opening quarter, began to be out-footed after a half-mile, came under an aggressive ride three furlongs out, but retreated and was virtually eased through the lane.