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Mar 27, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-Spiral and Sunland Park Derby

By: Joe Girardi

               There were two prep races run over the weekend of March 21st and 22nd. The Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park and the Sunland Park Derby at Sunland Park. Both of these races had Kentucky Derby Points, 50 for 1st, 20 for 2nd, 10 for 3rd and 5 for 4th.

               In the Spiral Stakes at Turfway racetrack, a race for three year olds, run over the polytrack at 1 and 1/8th miles distance for a purse of $550,000. There was a field of 11 that went postward after the scratch of Imperia. The favorite in the race was Metaboss who was sent off at 9-5 based on a win at the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate with a solid late run to score by more than two lengths. When the gates opened, Watchyourownbobber and Wireless Future both came out of the gate running, they battled head to head for the lead through the first half mile in 47:2 while being tracked by the second choice, Royal Son. As they moved up the backstretch, Royal Son moved up to challenge the leaders with Dubai Sky tracking in fourth. As they moved around the far turn, Dubai Sky and jockey Jose Lezcano started to move on the leaders and took over that lead into the lane. Dubai Sky continued on through the lane and held on to win by more than two lengths over Conquest Typhoon who held on to second with Firespike checking in third. Royal Son, who was a big winner of the prep race over this track back in late February tired to finish fifth and Metaboss just never fired, tiring to finish sixth. The final time of the race was a decent 1:50:1. Dubai Sky, after losing his debut run over the turf at Saratoga reeled off four straight wins, three over the turf and now one over the synthetic surface. This Bill Mott trainee was also adding lasix for the first time and it was his first start at 1 and 1/8th miles distance. He has never raced over the conventional dirt but he is bred to handle it and he is bred to handle the Kentucky Derby distance. Animal Kingdom, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2011 had never run over the conventional dirt course until his start in the Derby and he also was a winner of the Spiral over Turfway Park course as well.

               Moving along to Sunday March 22nd for the Sunland Park Derby. This race is for three year olds, run over 1 and 1/8th miles and carried a purse of $800,000. There was a field of seven that went postward with Firing Line going off as the heavy 1-5 favorite. The would be second choice in the race, Lord Nelson was scratched causing such a heavy favorite. When the gates opened, Firing Line came out running from his inside post and was engaged by Why Two as they battled through fractions of 22:1, 45:1, 1:09 flat. As they moved past the ¾ mark, Firing Line got away from Why Two and started to move away from the rest of the field. Moving into the far turn, Firing Line continued to hold a clear lead with Tiznow R J moving up into second to try and make a run at the lead. As they entered the lane, Firing Line was just too strong and he began to draw away, opening up a big advantage before finally coming to the wire as a geared down 14 and ¼ length winner. Where’s The Moon closed from last to finish a clear second at 11-1 with Pain and Misery checking in third. Tiznow R J who went off as the third choice and was shipping in from the Fair Grounds was just not good enough and tired to finish fourth. The final time of the race was a very sharp 1:47:2 and it was visually impressive. The plan is to train up to the Kentucky Derby which would mean six weeks off but this three year old by Line Of David has plenty of talent and could be a major contender come Derby Day. The knocks will be that he didn’t beat much and the time off, however with that being said he has a good running style for the Derby and if he can stay in the clear he will be one to watch come the first Saturday in May. The rest of the field, even the second place finisher who was more than 14 lengths behind will probably not stay on the Kentucky Derby trail and should look for lesser races going forward.

               We are coming down to the end of the prep schedule with only eight prep races left including three over the March 28th weekend. We will take a look at those races next week.

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