Updated on 03/26/2013 10:04AM

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

Email
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.