Spiral: Early Queen’s Plate Favorite King And His Court Among Several Added To Field

by | 03.21.2017 | 5:42pm
King and His Court wins the Display Stakes under jockey Gary Boulanger

The lineup for Saturday's $500,000 JACK Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) has changed as new players emerged to alter the landscape.

Hot Dad and Impressive Edge have been taken out of consideration by their trainers, the former deemed not yet ready by Mike Maker and the latter, trained by Dale Romans, not likely to draw in behind others with more earnings.

Maker also this morning confirmed the previously intended addition of Shiraz, while Mark Casse now plans to enter King and His Court as well as Sailing Home.

King and His Court, owned by Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable, captured a pair of stakes races in 2016, which were designed as early prep races to the Queen's Plate, Canada's premier race for sophomores. The son of Court Vision (Gulch) won the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine by 2 1/4 lengths, then the Display Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths. His 2017 debut saw King and His Court not take a liking to the dirt, when he finished ninth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. He has since been working consistently at both the Casse Training Center in Ocala, and the synthetic-surfaced Ocala Training Center.

Shiraz was third in the Dania Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream in January two starts back and was third again last out at Aqueduct. He twice has been around two turns, though off the board. “We were planning to enter Shiraz all along,” Maker said. “We think he warrants a shot.” Rafael Hernandez will ride.

Two of Maker's three expected runners are among the only U.S. crop by champion Hansen, who now stands in South Korea. Fast and Accurate won the Sage of Monticello Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Feb. 20 and two races back dominated a maiden claiming race at Turfway. In both cases he led at every call, but Maker said he can come from off the pace as well.

“Last time out he beat a decent field on the lead but he doesn't have to be on the lead,” Maker said. “This will be a step up for him but he's improving and deserves the chance.”

Tyler Gaffalione will be in from Florida after electing to ride Fast and Accurate. “We've had some success with Tyler at Gulfstream so we gave him his choice,” said Maker.

Kendall Hansen owns Fast and Accurate, and in partnership with Olympic skier Bode Miller he also owns En Hanse, Maker's third expected entry in the Spiral. Also by Hansen, En Hanse showed his sire's speed at Turfway with an easy win in the WEBN Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. In his next and most recent start, the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia Memorial at Turfway, he rated well through half before taking the lead, but eventually settled for second behind It's Your Nickel. Maker acknowledged that the 1 1/8-mile distance is a question for En Hanse but said, “He ran a credible race last time. [The Spiral distance] will be a stretch for him but there's only one way to find out.”

While the equine Hansen was known to become tense before his races, Maker said neither Fast and Accurate nor En Hanse inherited that trait. “Training is pretty straightforward for both,” he said.

Robby Albarado has the mount on En Hanse.

All of Maker's horses are on the grounds at Turfway. En Hanse trains at Turfway. Shiraz shipped in from New York after breezing five furlongs in 1:02.66 on the Belmont training track last Saturday, and Fast and Accurate shipped in from Florida after breezing five furlongs in 1:01.71 at Gulfstream the same day.

With three starts, Parlor is the most lightly raced of the expected field and the Spiral will be just his second start of the year. In that brief career, however, he has two wins and a second, with both wins coming around two turns. The second, a neck loss at Kentucky Downs at seven furlongs, came after traffic trouble. To his advantage in a race likely loaded with speed, Parlor is a closer.

“The races he's won, he's won from off the pace,” said trainer Eddie Kenneally. “He doesn't have natural speed and he's quite content to take himself back. I like to see plenty of speed in the race. Any post will be fine, as long as we're not too far out.”

All of Parlor's races have come on the turf, but Kenneally noted that several others in the field have the same question about a switch to a new surface. As for the light schedule, the trainer said he gave the colt the winter off after a minor setback coming out of the race at Kentucky Downs Sept 3.

Jesus Castanon rode Parlor to a win in his first race this year, Feb. 22 at Tampa Bay Downs, and will be back aboard Saturday. The colt is scheduled to arrive at Turfway Wednesday.

The maximum number of starters for the Spiral Stakes is 12, with two also eligible. The revised alphabetical list of horses planning to enter the Spiral:

  1. Blueridge Traveler (trainer Kenny McPeek/owner Horizon Stables)
  1. Bronson (Todd Pletcher/Mathis Stable LLC)
  1. Colonel Samsen (Eoin Harty/Casner Racing, Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, Corey Johnsen)
  1. Convict Pike (Rusty Arnold/Ashbrook Farm)
  1. En Hanse (Mike Maker/Kendall Hansen, Bode Miller)
  1. Fast and Accurate (Mike Maker/Kendall Hansen)
  1. Giant Payday (Ian Wilkes/Lothenbach Stables)
  1. King and His Court (Mark Casse/Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber)
  1. Kitten's Cat (Joe Sharp/Ken and Sarah Ramsey)
  1. Parlor (Eddie Kenneally/Brad Anderson)
  1. Sailing Home (Mark Casse/Conrad Farms)
  1. Shiraz (Mike Maker/Three Diamonds Farm)
  1. Soglio (Graham Motion/Flaxman Holdings Ltd.)
  1. Star Empire (GB) (Wesley Ward/Belinda Bateman)
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