Updated on 09/16/2011 8:02AM

A trail of sponsorship from booze to beds to breeding


FLORENCE, Ky. - Although Saturday's running of the Spiral Stakes is the 31st, this is the fourth time in the last five runnings that the race has sported a different name.

Tom Dawson, who has produced the Spiral for Winner Communications television for many years, said he jokingly sent a message to his graphics personnel saying simply to label it the "Spiral/Jim Beam/Galleryfurniture.com/Lane's End/Spiral Stakes."

To explain . . .

For its first 10 years, the race was known simply as the Spiral Stakes, named by the late John Battaglia for 3-year-olds who could "spiral up" to the Kentucky Derby. In 1982, a Kentucky distillery assumed sponsorship of the race, and for 17 years, the race was known as the Jim Beam Stakes.

When Beam dropped their sponsorship after the 1998 running, the race became the Galleryfurniture.com Stakes, but only for one year. For the last two years, the race lacked a sponsor and was known again as the Spiral.

Last fall, Turfway officials announced that Lane's End, the internationally prominent breeding farm in Versailles, Ky., would became the signature sponsor of the race. Lane's End will sponsor the race at least through 2004.

Lane's End, owned by Will Farish, the current ambassador to the Court of St. James's, has a long-standing relationship with Keeneland, which has been a part-owner and managing partner of Turfway since 1999.

No hoops conflict

For years, Turfway officials cited a conflict with the NCAA's Final Four basketball tournament as a potential source for lower ontrack attendance that might otherwise be achieved on Spiral day.

But because the way the calendar has been falling in recent years, this is the third straight Spiral that does not conflict with the Final Four, which will be played next weekend in Atlanta. Before 2000, the two events conflicted for six straight years.

Attendance at the last three Spirals averaged just over 20,000, the approximate number that Turfway officials say they are expecting again Saturday.

Cradle may prove key

A victory by Request for Parole in the Spiral would complete quite an exacta for River Downs, the Cincinnati track located just 15 minutes from Turfway across the Ohio River.

Last September, Harlan's Holiday won the premier race at River Downs, the Cradle Stakes, by a neck over Request for Parole. Harlan's Holiday won the Florida Derby last Saturday, so clearly a Spiral win by Request for Parole would further strengthen the Cradle results.

Excellent track record for Day

When Steve Margolis picked Pat Day to ride Request for Parole, surely it was because Day long has been recognized as one of the top jockeys in the world.

But it might as well have been because of Day's sensational record in the Spiral. Day won with his first four Spiral mounts (1984, '87, '89, '90) and five of the first six (he was second on Richman in 1991 and won with Lil E. Tee in '92).

Overall, Day's Spiral record is 5 for 12.

Old ties to Delahoussaye

Trainer Murray Johnson just didn't pick Eddie Delahoussaye's name out of a hat. Last week, Johnson named Delahoussaye to ride Perfect Drift, replacing Turfway veteran Tony D'Amico, who had ridden the colt to back-to-back runner-up finishes in two prep races here.

Johnson and Delahoussaye met when Johnson was an assistant to John Gosden in the late 1980's in Southern California.

"Eddie was a great favorite of John's, and he's a friend of mine," said Johnson.

After Gosden returned to England to train, and Johnson went out on his own, Delahoussaye helped Johnson by accepting mounts on his horses, ones he normally might have declined to ride.

The stalking style that Perfect Drift can be expected to use Saturday could be a great fit for Delahoussaye, said Johnson.

"He's so patient," said Johnson. "It looks like the race could set up for us."

Although Perfect Drift has been listed as a colt, he is actually a gelding, said Johnson. The change must be duly recorded with racing's official registrar, The Jockey Club, before it can be disseminated.

Pino an almost-secret weapon

While trainer Tony Dutrow will be able to look around the paddock Saturday and see such highly accomplished jockeys such as Day, Delahoussaye, Jorge Chavez and Mike Smith, he certainly isn't embarrassed by the man he flew in from Maryland to ride Saratoga Blues in the Spiral: Mario Pino.

"Yeah," Dutrow deadpanned. "Mario's only won over 4,000 races."

Indeed, Pino, a longtime standout at Laurel and Pimlico, might even hit the coveted 5,000-win mark sometime later this year; through Wednesday, he had ridden 4,839 winners in a vastly underrated career.

He is not very well known outside of Maryland, mostly because he seldom ventures elsewhere, citing deep roots in his home state and a permanent family life with his wife, Christine, and three children.

Devalued Lukas

The fact that D. Wayne Lukas is represented in the Spiral by the longshot Gold Dollar appears to underscore how his stable has lost its once-incredible clout.

Lukas, who last year had his record 20-year streak of having a starter in the Kentucky Derby snapped, is easily the all-time leading trainer in Turfway stakes, having won 29 here, including two runnings of the Spiral.

Gold Dollar, a Seattle Slew colt bred and owned by Overbrook Farm, has won just once in 11 career starts. In all three of his tries in first-level allowance races at Santa Anita this winter, he failed to finish in the money.

Shun that chalk

Playing non-favorites in the Spiral has been the right way to lean in recent years.

Since Event of the Year won as an odds-on favorite in 1998, none of the subsequent winners has been among the top three choices. They were Stephen Got Even (co-fourth choice in 1999), Globalize (sixth choice at 11-1 in 2000), and Balto Star (fifth choice at 6-1 in 2001).

In the last 20 runnings, the betting favorite has won eight times.

* The only remaining stakes of the long winter-spring meet at Turfway comes next Saturday with the $50,000 Fairway Fun for older fillies and mares. Turfway ends April 4, with action on the Kentucky circuit moving to Keeneland the next afternoon for a 16-day meet.