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Road to the Derby analysis: Spiral Stakes
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.
Impressive win ... any one of 8 horses had position to win this race and Dubai Sky left them all in the rubber ... against a stronger field than the Sunland ... interesting horse
You really stroked Metaboss on this story. If he was behind horses in the backstretch, he benefited from drafting against that head wind. Dubai Sky and the others were square across the track directly battling the head wind, yet that failed to be mentioned. I really didn't see the "bump" leaving the gate either. Dubai Sky won...and did it on or near the lead...a trait that really good horses exhibit. Metaboss...not so much.
I liked this performance by Dubai Sky. I'm not a big fan of the synthetic to dirt angle, but will definitely watch the lead up to the Derby with this guy (like all of the would be runners). Sometimes it becomes really clear who loves the track after a workout or two and that was certainly the case with Animal Kingdom. I would have never bet AK in the Derby based off of his prior races, because no horse had ever won the Derby without running on the dirt prior to D-Day. AK simply forced me to bet on him by his outstanding works prior to the race and then he looked as good as any horse could have looked in the Post Parade. I bet $20 on him to win from my computer and then paired him with several with him singled on top of an Exacta Wheel. (even with covering several, I still managed to miss out on the Exacta, but the overall day was a success). The bottomline for me is this horse overcame a wide trip and won impressively, so the distance probably won't be a factor...now we just need to see how he likes Churchill Downs' surface. I like others more to win, but Dubai Sky will be a horse at a "price" for sure.
Still not sold on Dubai Sky on dirt...now if the track is wet or has some rain in the morning of the Derby, then that would get my attention...hopefully he ends up back on the turf as he clearly has been good and the turf division needs to look at replacements for Wise Dan and Main Sequence who due to age or breeding will be retired by the end of year most likely...
I bet him for two reasons: first time Lasix and his first race was a distance. Horses that start out at a sprinting distance are not meant for the long haul I don't know (of course) how much more is in his tank, but I had him in the Spiral
None from this race are anywhere near derby quality...and its on a different surface to boot...nuff said.
Technically I was glad they changed the earnings way of getting in. I agree with lesser grades of races getting less points but this race so late should be a higher grade. As far as the recent success of winners of this race goes, which can't be disputed I think the point system should be for horses that ran in graded stakes a mile or over on the dirt. Not because a horse like even shared belief showed he could run on anything in California so far but I think it's a bit more fair to the bettors. Cigar started off running ok on dirt but Mott was certain he was a turf horse because of how he trained on it and he relentlessly entered him in grass races and I scratched my head. Just training well on a surface doesn't mean they will run well in competition. You get the trainers saying they're thrilled with a work in let's say 114 then another says I didn't like the 112 and change work so I'm not gonna run him in whatever race. So going back to Cigar, well he started his string of me getting well paid in an off the turf race that he won easy, then The Met Mike where he paid well as a long shot and I pounded him. So while this horse is a Candy ride and all I think being the turf races to this point have no points that the synthetic races should not either. Sure I like the prospect of figuring a horse may be equally as good on another surface but while some turf and synthetic surfaces have won the derby most have been also rans and kept dirt horses out of the starting gate. 20 horses is ridiculous and most people agree it should change. Then the they do it in Europe daily argument comes up but the they don't run fast and use lasix argument comes up. Making it to the derby is and should be hard. Ducking other dirt horses that are proven shouldn't be rewarded. I certainly like hitting other surface horses switching but not in The Derby. It should be the best 14 dirt horses. I also don't think a tirade like The Belmont winner last year was a cowards way and the only horses allowed to run in the later races had to have run in the derby like the not so bright comments CCs owner made. The Derby and The Bc Classic are the two biggest races run in the states and should have the highest standards. Of course yearly there are obvious sprinters or horses that can only win with no pressure on the lead that win these races. I think the race yesterday was solid as the track isn't that fast and they ran a decent time but I'd prefer to have seen this horse and all of the others in the race with mainly or all turf or synthetic races under their belt have to prove it on the dirt in order to make that gate. The Derby always has 120000 people at it. The Preakness is the only time Pimlico has people show up as The Derby winner is normally guaranteed to run and if there's no Triple Crown on the line Belmont draws only 50-60000 people. Even with tons of advertising last year for CC and a beautiful day they only drew 102000 people and ran out of everything in most parties by the fifth race. There were people that bought their tickets before The Derby for 200 and those who after The Preakness had to pay 2000 for the same tickets very upset. But every year there are at least 19 horse owners, trainers and supporters upset and those who dudnt make the race go on to much better when typically half of the 20 are still eligible for nw2 for another year but they had points so let them in.
I would have loved to see metaboss race against Dubai sky !! Metaboss might have won if the jockey didn't pull the horse!! I also think my trifecta ticket should have paid more money but that's a different story!! Dubai sky is an amazing horse because he is able to do fast fractions and then has enough energy to hold off the closers at the end!! The pick 3 ticket paid fair but not trifecta !!
I totally agree.
This points system for the Derby is ridiculous! Why is a Grade 3 race on synthetic worth 50 points to the winner??? Churchill, you need to rethink your system!!!