01/05/2012 12:38PM

Turfway: Maiden 3-year-old Circus Clown a contender in Prevue

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A maiden emerging victorious in a stakes race is very rare among older horses, but not necessarily among younger ones. The possibility of such a scenario unfolding Saturday night in the $50,000 Turfway Prevue at Turfway Park seems real with the entry of a colt named Circus Clown, who has yet to win in three career starts but met up with some pretty tough company in those maiden events.

“I’m certain those maidens he faced at Keeneland and Churchill Downs are every bit as good as the horses we’ll go against Saturday,” said Walt Bindner Jr., who trains Circus Clown for owner-breeders Hargus and Sandra Sexton.

Fourteen 3-year-olds were entered in the 26th running of the Prevue, a 6 1/2-furlong Polytrack race that marks the first stakes of the 2012 winter-spring meet at Turfway in Florence, Ky. Only 12 can start, and Circus Clown, despite his maiden status, made the body of the race.

“I was going to run him in a maiden race in Hot Springs on opening weekend of the Oaklawn meet until I started matching him up against these other horses,” said Bindner, who is based year-round at the High Pointe training center near LaGrange, Ky. “You’re never taking an edge running a maiden in a stakes, but this is a pretty nice colt and we feel like he’ll belong. He ran a great race [when third] at Keeneland and showed he likes the Poly, and he came back with another good one [when second] in the slop at Churchill.”

With Circus Clown likely to be one of the middling wagering choices, favoritism in the Prevue could fall to a runner from one of the dominant stables on the circuit. Dale Romans steps in with Salvatore G, a two-back winner of a high-level claiming sprint at Woodbine, while Mike Maker counters with the uncoupled duo of Mr. Prankster and Magical Season. Of those two, Magical Season might be the greater threat when turning back and switching surfaces after failing to make an impact in a couple of rugged turf routes at Churchill.

The Turfway Prevue goes as the ninth of 10 races on a Saturday program that begins at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Turfway Prevue is the first of four stakes in the 3-year-old division at the meet. The final one comes March 24 with the 41st running of the Grade 3, $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, which was captured last year by Animal Kingdom, the eventual Kentucky Derby winner.