03/23/2017 1:06PM

Sailing Home back on synthetic in Rushaway Stakes

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Dustin Orona Photography
Cool Arrow will make his first Polytrack start in Saturday's Rushaway Stakes.

FLORENCE, Ky. – Sailing Home outran his 24-1 odds when finishing fourth in his turf debut earlier this month at Gulfstream Park, but the race served a higher purpose. Now the colt returns to Polytrack as the horse to beat Saturday in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park.

“We thought he ran really well” when setting the pace in the Grade 3 Palm Beach, said Norm Casse, assistant to and son of trainer Mark Casse. “The intention was to use that as a prep” for either the Spiral or Rushaway. “We’re excited to get him back on a synthetic surface.”

Sailing Home was effective in all three starts at Woodbine and the Ocala Training Center and could be favored when ridden by Julien Leparoux in the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway. Nine 3-year-olds are entered, although one of the other would-be favorites, Royal by Nature, was a likely scratch, trainer Brad Cox said Thursday.

Besides Sailing Home, the Rushaway also drew Cool Arrow, a two-time stakes winner making his first start on a surface other than dirt; Willamazing, untested after facing far easier at Mahoning Valley; and the Mike Maker trio of Hansenation, Gorgeous Kitten, and Hey Mike.

Cool Arrow, with Luis Saez riding for trainer Joe Sharp, abruptly dropped off the Kentucky Derby trail last month when soundly defeated in his seasonal debut in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. The Into Mischief colt ended a very productive 2-year-old campaign by winning the $300,000 Springboard Mile over the main track at Remington Park.

Gorgeous Kitten, with Rafael Hernandez to ride, probably is the most dangerous of the Maker runners, even though the colt was not a serious factor when seventh in the John Battaglia Memorial last month. His maiden win two starts back over the Turfway surface followed valuable experience in a couple of tough Gulfstream turf races.

The Rushaway goes as the eighth of 12 races at 4:33 p.m. Eastern and is the leadoff race in the late pick five (races 8-12) and late pick four (races 8-11).

Long a Spiral Day co-feature, the Rushaway was first run in 1988, with its most notable winners being Brass Hat (2004) and Dominican (2007). The 2016 winner was He’ll Pay, trained by Larry Jones.