Updated on 03/26/2013 10:04AM

Spiral Stakes: Black Onyx springs $33 upset; Uncaptured second

Pat Lang Photography
Black Onyx, making his first start in a stakes, thrusts himself into the Kentucky Derby picture by winning the Spiral Stakes under Joe Bravo.

FLORENCE, Ky. – Black Onyx, making his stakes debut, ran himself right into the Kentucky Derby discussion Saturday when he drove to a 15-1 upset under Joe Bravo in the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

Trained by Kelly Breen for Sterling Racing, Black Onyx got a good trip from midpack before circling the leaders leaving the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race and drawing clear to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths. Uncaptured, the 3-1 second choice in a full field of 12, finished a resolute second when making his first start in four months. Giant Finish (23-1) and Taken by the Storm (22-1) rounded out the top four.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Black Onyx returned $33.40 after finishing in 1:51.98.

The Spiral is worth 50 points to the winner in the new system being used by Churchill for Derby eligibility, meaning Black Onyx almost certainly would keep him above the 20-horse cutoff. The colt was not an early nominee to the Triple Crown but was made a $6,000 late nominee shortly after the race and well before the Saturday night deadline.

Black Onyx, a dark bay colt by Rock Hard Ten, was making his stakes debut in the 42nd running of the Turfway showcase. He was making his fifth overall start but just his second since Breen assumed his training in south Florida from Carl Domino. The victory was the second in a row for the colt, following a first-level allowance triumph over the Gulfstream Park turf on Feb. 23.

Sterling Racing is owned by Miami businessman Sam Herzberg, who was on hand to celebrate the victory.

“The plan was if he won that we wouldn’t run again until the [May 4] Derby,” said Breen, who watched the race from Aqueduct in New York and spoke later by phone to reporters. “I don’t know if we’ll keep to that. He ran really well. I’ll talk to Mr. Herzberg and come up with a definite plan.”

Breen said Black Onyx would ship to Churchill Downs from Turfway on Saturday evening and would return to training in a few days.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

On a sunny and cool afternoon, Mac the Man broke sharply to take the early lead in the Spiral. Both Giant Finish and Taken by the Storm moved to challenge approaching the half-mile pole, and they went past without much trouble. By then, Black Onyx was under way, and his outside surge took him to the lead as they straightened for home.

“After an eighth of a mile, he took hold of the bit and started pulling me along,” said Bravo. “I was watching [Uncaptured], but it didn’t look like that horse was handling as well as mine. After that, my horse settled down, and it was all over.”

Among the disappointments in the race were My Name is Michael, the 3-1 favorite, and Balance the Books (4-1). Neither was ever a factor when finishing eighth and 11th, respectively.

Mac the Man (6-1) was eased down the stretch by jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. but had no major injuries, said trainer Jeff Greenhill.

“He scoped clean,” said Greenhill. “I suspect we may be dealing with a foot issue.”

Black Onyx was a member of the mutuel field in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager this weekend, as were 10 others in the field. Uncaptured was the only separately listed horse in Pool 3.

The $2 exacta (9-3) paid $220.80; the $1 trifecta (9-3-10) returned $2,332.60; and the dime superfecta (9-3-10-11) was worth $2,363.70.

Richard More than 1 year ago
Black Onyx with Joe Bravo rode a pretty nice race in a nice size field of twelve horses. The Spiral was run at one mile and an eighth. The time was not the fastest but I think that was the speed of the track that day. Run on polytrack. Black Onyx did a nice job of stalking the leaders and started his run between the four furlong mark to the six furlong mark where he then was in the lead at the stretch and held to win. A Kentucky Derby winner is going to have to handle a lot of traffic. Well it looks like we are on our way to The Kentucky Derby with these last preps in the next couple of weeks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dullahan won on POLY in Bluegrass and couldn't do a thing on dirt when it counted. Poly is a Wildcard with some Horses heading into the Derby
John Schweighardt More than 1 year ago
Another low Beyer...looking more like the FLA Derby or Wood will have our Derby favorte and/or winner.
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
While I agree that most likely the Derby winner will come elsewhere, I really hope you aren't using Beyer's to handicap the Derby. There is so much value with Black Onyx in the exotics.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Even in defeat, Uncaptured never gave up until the end. Coming off his layoff and dealing with his foot problems, Uncaptured should come out of this race in better shape then all these horses put together. The race time was slow but so what. Turfway Parks track has never been real fast , has it ? If Uncaptured who was 6 for 7 as a 2 yo and now as a 3yo is 1 for 2 with a good 2nd. Watch Out people, next start will be a W. If he does not make the Derby, then so be it. Casse has to be happy even with his 2nd place and must already have mapped out his way to this years Summer Classic , which has to be the Best Race Day of the year ! IMO , See you all there ...and Good racing Luck to all, because some of us at sometime really do need it...
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
It doesnt matter if he is 15 for 15. If the horse cant run the big numbers, he wont beat the big boys.
martymar . More than 1 year ago
He beat overanalyze by over 8 lengths in iroquios and has been consistent with atleast 90 beyer. If he was being trained by Pletcher or Baffert you clowns will be salivating.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
I am well aware who is training this horse Mar Tay .......
martymar . More than 1 year ago
I'm not referring to your statement, I'm referring to the clown the replied to your initial comment.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Happy to see Uncaptured show up and run off the layoff. I'm assuming we will see him in the Blue Grass.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
My first thought is Black Onyx has a lot of room to move forward. If anything, He at least, looks like a 1 1/4 mile horse.
Tex Renegade More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't read too much into the outcome of the Spiral Stakes...the race is almost always filled with second-rate Triple Crown contenders who falter further down the road. The one recent exception that comes to mind is Animal Kingdom and his TC success was due as much to the lack of quality competition as it was his own talent.
Michael Pollard More than 1 year ago
That may of been so in previous years but one could argue that with 50 points available to get into the Derby, the quality of horses has been greatly improved. I think there are several horses coming out of this race that could make the Derby and be a factor in it.
Harriet More than 1 year ago
Typical handicapping...evaluating this year's horses based upon previous year's outcomes. If it worked that way we would all be rich. The Derby game changed with the new point entry system. The Spiral yesterday was not like any previous edition. Check out the numbers and keep in mind the one-two trainers have been here before. Those animals are legitimate contenders.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Dead wrong. 2011 derby field was solid. Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man, AK, all turned out to be real solid horses
Robert Wagner More than 1 year ago
good to see joe bravo win hope he holds the mount kelly
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
from what I see so far of this years 3 yo group, Vyjack looks the best by far! imo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Midnight Lucky the fillie is the best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tony Dutrow can not be too happy with the ride given Giant Finish.He was dead game and moving very well at the finish.Watch this colt to crush in NY Bred races
Tex Renegade More than 1 year ago
I wonder why Cornelio V. wasn't riding him?