03/20/2013 4:02PM

Turfway Park: Spiral Stakes has a dozen out for precious Kentucky Derby points

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Uncaptured, with Miguel Mena up, wins the Iroquois. He drew post 3 for the Spiral.

CINCINNATI – What amounts to a berth in the May 4 Kentucky Derby will be up for grabs Saturday when a wide-open field of 3-year-olds goes off at Turfway Park in the 42nd running of the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral Stakes.

The Spiral is worth 50 points to the winner (85 in all) on the new eligibility system in place for the Derby, making it all but certain the winner will make the cut in case the 20-horse maximum is exceeded.

“We’re a little late to the party,” said Mark Casse, who will saddle once-beaten Uncaptured as a lukewarm morning-line favorite for the Spiral, which is run at 1 1/8 miles over Polytrack. “But the good thing about this race is if you’re lucky enough to win, the Derby points are enough that you can do whatever you want the next six weeks.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Uncaptured, with Miguel Mena to ride, was assigned post 3 in a field of 12 in the Spiral. The Ontario-bred colt won 6 of 7 last year at 2 for Casse and owner John C. Oxley, and his return to action has been eagerly awaited. The colt was scheduled to arrive Thursday at Turfway from Ocala, Fla., where he has been training steadily over the SafeTrack synthetic.

“Obviously, he likes the synthetic, and his works have been real nice,” said Casse, noting that Uncaptured won four straight races over the Polytrack at Woodbine to open his career.

Balance the Books, also making his first start at 3, was assigned a good post. The Chad Brown-trained colt will start from the rail with former Turfway kingpin Julien Leparoux in from California to ride. Balance the Books, the 7-2 second choice on the Turfway morning line, ran four solid races at 2, all over turf.

Conversely, one of the other likely favorites, Capo Bastone (9-2), drew poorly at the post draw held Wednesday afternoon at the new Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati, getting the far outside slot. John Velazquez will ride for Todd Pletcher.

Only one of the 12 Spiral starters, For Greater Glory, is as high as 20-1 on the morning line, illustrating the depth of the field.

The Spiral is carded as the 10th of 12 Saturday races. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern, with the Spiral set for 5:48. TVG will have full-day coverage.

[SPIRAL STAKES: Get Turfway past performances, watch video previews]