03/18/2011 1:31PM

Turfway gate looking full for Spiral

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Preachintothedevil, Junior Alvarado up, wins the Champagneforashley.

A full gate of 12 looks like a good possibility when the Grade 3, $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes is run next Saturday, March 26, at Turfway Park.

Racing officials with the Florence, Ky., track are counting at least 11 3-year-olds as likely for the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race, with another half-dozen or so possible for when entries are drawn Wednesday evening.

The top contenders in what appears to a wide-open field include Preachintothedevil, King Congie, Crimson China, Positive Response, Decisive Moment, Rescind the Trade, and Thirtyfirststreet.

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This will be the 40th running of the Spiral, which has undergone a number of name changes since it was first run in 1972 at the track formerly known as Latonia. The last five runnings have come over Polytrack, with the winners of the last four all having run back in the Kentucky Derby, most notably Hard Spun, the Derby runner-up in 2007. The $300,000 winner’s share makes the race a virtual win-and-in race event to the Derby, which has graded earnings as the top criterion for making the field.

The post position draw is being held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern in the VIP tent at the track. This will be the first such evening draw for the race.

From New York, Preachintothedevil seems recovered from a bruised foot that forced him to scratch out of the March 5 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. On Friday, this New York-bred son of Pulpit worked a mile in 1:43.37 – with a final quarter of 24.10 seconds – over the Belmont Park training track in preparation for the Spiral.

Junior Alvarado, the regular rider of Preachintothedevil, was aboard for the work and will ride the colt in the Spiral, trainer Gary Contessa said.

“I was very happy with his work,” Contessa said. “He’s got that high knee action, and those kind of horses do well on the grass and do well on the Poly too, so it’s time to try.”

Preachintothedevil won his debut by 7 3/4 lengths in an off-the-turf maiden race last Nov. 18 over the Aqueduct main track. Since then, he has run in three stakes over the inner track, finishing third in the Damon Runyon while winning the Champagneforashley – both restricted to New York-breds – before running third behind Toby’s Corner in the Whirlaway on Feb. 5.

Preachintothedevil was entered for the Gotham, but was scratched when he came up with a bruised foot the day before the race. The Friday work was his second since the Gotham. He also breezed six furlongs in 1:14.66 on March 13.

Preachintothedevil was expected to leave New York by van Saturday for Turfway.

Several of the Spiral prospects will be exiting turf races, including Crimson China, whose only start in North America resulted in a highly impressive victory in a Feb. 16 first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park. Owned by Team Valor International and trained by Graham Motion, Crimson China is a Giant’s Causeway colt who began his career by racing twice last fall on Polytrack in England before being shipped overseas.

Others likely for the Spiral are Son of Posse, Twinspired, Smarter Than Ever, and Quiet Assault. Those listed as possible are Animal Kingdom, Beachcombing, Indian Winter, Sorgho, Swagger Jack, and Taptowne. Glint, trained by Kellyn Gorder and scratched from last weekend’s Rebel at Oaklawn Park, is under consideration for either the Spiral or the Rushaway on the undercard.

The Vinery Spiral is one of five stakes set for the March 26 program, which will be run during daytime hours. Nighttime Saturday cards have been the norm at Turfway since Feb. 5. TVG will be providing onsite coverage from Turfway throughout the day.

Among the supporting stakes, the $100,000 Rushaway – an ungraded, 1 1/16-mile race– is often used as overflow for fringe candidates for the Spiral. Preference in making the Spiral field is given to graded winners in order (1, 2, 3), followed by highest career earnings. The field will be limited to 12.

– additional reporting by David Grening