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Spiral Stakes: Velazquez has difficult assignment on Capo Bastone
FLORENCE, Ky. – The far outside post? Many horsemen will tell you they actually prefer it for a one-turn race. But going two turns? Um, no.
“It’s certainly not the post position we would’ve chosen,” trainer Todd Pletcher said in typical understatement regarding Capo Bastone and jockey John Velazquez being assigned post 12 for the 42nd running of the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park. “But there’s enough run into the first turn that hopefully he can maneuver over, maybe tuck in a little bit and save some ground. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Johnny. I’m sure he can figure it out.”
Capo Bastone, owned by the Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners group headed by Aron Wellman, comes off a narrow victory in a first-level, two-turn allowance over the Gulfstream Park slop. That was the colt’s first race for Pletcher after he ran four times last year in California for John Sadler, starting with a maiden win over Polytrack at Del Mar.
“We felt like the timing was good for this race,” Pletcher said. “The colt has had experience and success over this kind of track,” referring to the Polytrack at Turfway.
Pletcher already has won the Spiral twice, with Balto Star in 2001 and Flower Alley in 2005. Both wound up as also-rans in the Kentucky Derby.
Pletcher, well on his way to an unprecedented 10th straight training title at Gulfstream, said he soon will have about 18 horses stabled at Churchill Downs and will be active at the 16-day Keeneland spring meet that starts April 5. Assistant Whit Beckman will oversee the Kentucky string.
Horseshoe high rollers on hand
Kevin Kline, vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, spoke about Turfway in glowing terms when the Spiral post-position draw was held Wednesday at the shiny new $450 million casino in downtown Cincinnati.
Horseshoe and Turfway are both owned in part by Caesars Entertainment. Horseshoe upped the Spiral purse by $50,000, to $550,000, and Kline said when addressing the luncheon crowd that the company is “very committed to reinvesting in Turfway.”
Turfway general manager Chip Bach said some of the top casino customers will be in attendance Saturday in the traditional upscale tent, for which amenities have been improved from prior years so as to more closely replicate the deluxe accommodations of a casino.
* For those keeping score at home, here is the history of the names for the Turfway showcase race: Spiral Stakes (1972-81); Jim Beam Stakes (1982-98); Galleryfurniture.com Stakes (1999); Turfway Spiral Stakes (2000-01); Lane’s End Stakes (2002-10); Vinery Racing Spiral (2011-12); Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (2013-?).
* After Saturday, just two more dates will be left at the Turfway winter-spring meet (March 29-30). After five dark days on the Kentucky circuit, Keeneland will kick off its meet April 5 with the biannual College Scholarship Day.
From a pure trip handicapping stantpoint. Taken By Storm gets a garden trip stalking 2nd or 3rd. And he deffinalty can get the 1 1/18. He debuted at that distance, so you know the trainer thinks the longer the better for him. He has gone 3-4 wide in EACH of his races. My play at a generous price.
The FPS for the Spiral. The number of furlongs for each segment is in parentheses, followed by the FPS - 44 FPS: Balance the Books: (2) 9.2, (2) 9.3, (2) 10.0, (2) 11.2 Total: 79.4 Prev: (2) 9.5, (2) 10.4, (2) 7.1, (2.5) 10.0 Total: 79.2 Analysis: Making first start of the year; should have been racing. Don’t like the late running style; he’s not Secretariat. Channel Isle: (2) 11.2, (2) 10.9, (2) 8.8, (2.5) 5.0 Total: 74.2 Prev: (2) 10.2, (2) 12.4, (2) 8.9, (2) 6.3 Total: 75.7 Analysis: Flopped in the slop just like a few good ones in the Southwest. However, as a whole does not look like a real threat except that Lukas has been hot of late and he does have a bullet work going into this. Uncaptured: (2) 9.8, (2) 9.2, (2) 9.2, (2.5) 9.3 Total: 79.8 Prev: (2) 13.1, (2) 13.2, (2) 7.5, (2) 9.1 Total: 85.8 Analysis: Don’t like the fact he is just now coming off the bench. His most recent start does not equal his overpowering Iroquois win; he looked as if he won the Ky JC on heart alone. It could explain why he hasn’t been seen since. Looks like this is just a prep for him for the Bluegrass at best. Fear the Kitten: (2) 10.1, (2) 10.7, (2) 9.6, (2.5) 6.3 Total: 76.6 Prev: (2) 7.8, (2) 12.1, (2) 9.0, (2.3) 6.1 Total: 71.8 Analysis: Another one that flopped in the slop in the Southwest, only he at least took the place money. Appears to be improving, but I don’t like the $40k claim when the stud fee was $50k; hasn’t worked since 3/10/13. Doesn’t do a whole lot for me. My Name is Michael: (2) 8.7, (2) 10.8, (2) 9.5,(2) 7.9 Total: 77.8 Prev: (2) 8.7, (2) 10.1, (2) 9.5, (2) 9.8 Total: 81.1 Analysis: The fact that Mott now has him is a big plus. He could get a slice, but because he started too far back in his last race tells me that he is not winning this. For Greater Glory: (2) 7.4, (2) 12.4, (2) 10.3,(2.5) 7.7 Total: 79.5 Prev: (2) 9.5, (2) 12.6, (2) 8.4, (2.5) 6.8 Total: 78.2 Analysis: Good middle move in last, but all out after his Maiden score; not sure what is left in the tank being rushed back after only 3 weeks. Mac the Man: (2) 11.8, (2) 13.0, (2) 9.0, (2) 6.8 Total: 81.2 Prev: (2) 14.7, (2) 13.3, (2) 8.9, (0.5) 5.1 Total: 76.2 Analysis: Bargain pony for $23k at the Keeneland September sale. Speedy sort; well rested. Will be tested today. Don’t count out. General Election: (2) 8.8, (2) 11.7, (2) 10.1, (2.5) 7.7 Total: 80.6 Prev: (2) 7.9, (2) 10.3, (2) 8.1, (2.3) 6.4 Total: 67.3 Analysis: Just beat out For Greater Glory. Appears that this was his “shot” and don’t expect him to fire at all today. Black Onyx: (2) 7.9, (2) 9.7, (2) 10.7, (2.5) 9.2 Total: 79.9 Prev: (2) 10.9, (2) 12.6, (2) 8.8, (2.5) 3.1 Total: 72.5 Third back: (2) 11.3, (2) 12.3, (2) 8.6, (2) 8.0 Total: 80.9 Analysis: I wanted to go back to his Maiden win at Belmont just to see how good this one might really be. His race on 1/1/13 was only for exercise; he was up close in the early stages. Last race seemed to feature a slow pace (based on the variant) and he still came from off the pace to win handily. Having the full 4 weeks off since then leaves this one with plenty of energy to muscle this bunch. Giant Finish: (2) 10.9, (2) 12.1, (2) 9.6, (2.5) 6.2 Total: 80.6 Prev: (2) 9.9, (2) 7.6, (2) 9.3, (2.3) 8.7 Total: 74.0 Analysis: Had a pretty good run in last; might be better today. However, I think this one is in over his head with this bunch. Taken by the Storm: (2) 8.7, (2) 9.2, (2) 9.8, (2) 9.7 Total: 74.7 Prev: (2) 13.2, (2) 12.5, (2) 7.8, (2.5) 2.0 Total: 72.0 Analysis: Not impressed really and not fond of the 2-week break since his last. I think to win this one, 2 weeks is not enough. Capo Bastone: (2) 13.9, (2) 12.3, (2) 7.7, (2.5) 4.1 Total: 78.0 Prev: (2) 11.2, (2) 12.5, (2) 10.0, (2.5) 4.9 Total: 79.7 Analysis: Huffing and puffing in the late stages of the slop; even his previous race shows that he wasn’t moving very fast in the late stages of the BC Juvenile, only passing tired horses. Don’t like the drop-back running style he shows in most of his races. Doubtful he’ll be close at the wire. Summary: Black Onyx to win. Use My Name is Michael and Mac the Man in the exotics. Roll the dice on the rest.
The quicker the pace the better for Capo Bastone, Johnny V. is a very savvy professional, so positioning his mount as they approach the 7/8 pole should be no problem, settle in down the backstretch and stay well off the frontrunners so as to get a clear run from the 3/8 pole to the 1/4 pole and get him to switch leads as he explodes for the run through the stretch.
Seems every horse I've really liked lately, has drawn extreme inside or outside. Oh well.