Uncaptured, winner of the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club and G3 Iroquois Stakes last year, will face a full 12-horse field as he makes his three-year-old debut on the 42nd running of the $550,000 Spiral Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park.
A winner at six out of seven starts, the Ontario bred colt is the 3-1 morning-line favorite and will start from post-position No. 3. He has a total earning of $510,837 lifetime and definitely is the horse to beat on Saturday.
Uncaptured debuted in May last year at Woodbine with a nose win and proceeded to win his next three races before suffering his first—and only—loss in the G3 Grey last Oct. 7. All of those starts were at Woodbine's Polytrack surface.
He then made the switch to conventional dirt at Churchill Downs. The result: an easy win at the Iroquios (Oct. 28) and a hard-fought neck win over Frac Daddy at the Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 24.
Jockey Patrick Husbands rode him at Woodbine, but Miguel Mena got the call on his last two wins at Churchill Downs and gets the return mount Saturday.
The Spiral Stakes will mark not only the return to the races for Uncaptured, but also his return to a Polytrack surface, which is the one at Turfway Park.
Even when Uncaptured has not run since November, his works at the Ocala Training Center's synthetic all-weather track suggests he has been training well for his trainer Mark Casse, and we should expect a big run from him.
Uncaptured is undoubtedly the horse to beat; but the fact that this race is just six weeks before the Kentucky Derby, and that it offers 85 qualifying points under the new system, has attracted a full field of challengers headlined by the likes of Balance the Books and Capo Bastone.
Two-time graded stakes winner on turf as a juvenile (G3 Bourbon and G2 With Anticipation), Balance the Books, is also making his three-year-old debut and will race for the first time off the turf. We saw him last time finishing third on the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf last year.
The added distance should benefit him, being a deep-closer type of horse. But he will have to overcome the lack of natural pace on the race, the inside post position and the long layoff to win this race.
Balance the Books has been working steady at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, highlighted by the best-of-52 workouts for four furlongs on Mar. 3, stopping the clock in 48 seconds flat.
He looks ready to take on this big challenge, and will have aboard his regular rider Julien Leparoux, former leading jockey locally at Turfway Park.
Capo Bastone might scare bettors away by the fact that this horse drew the outside starting post. but the one thing that should really deter bettors away from him is the fact that his best career Beyer figure is 78—twice.
He was transferred to the Todd Pletcher barn from John Sadler's after finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. On his first race for Pletcher, he won an optional claimer race on Feb 13; but his time was a poor 1:48.16 for 8.5 furlongs on a sloppy track—not Derby contender-like.
This is a horse that has yet to run a bad race, but the question wit him will be whether or not he is good enough to be a Kentucky Derby contender. He must win here to demonstrate that indeed he can compete with the big boys. Hall of Famer John Velazquez gets the return mount.
My Name is Michael was third in the G3 Sam F. Davis in his most recent start, where he found his best stride too late in the race. Prior to that, he won once in four tries over the Woodbine Polytrack last year.
He is an improving horse that will welcome the added distance; he has been working well at Payson Park and could be a mild-upset winner. Trainer Bill Mott assigned jockey Joel Rosario for the returning mount.
If there is a horse-for-the-course it has to be Mac the Man. He is unbeaten in three starts at Turfway Park—coincidentally his last three races over the past three months—and has improved Beyers on each of those three races.
He has a versatile running style and jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr, who has been aboard for those last three races, will ride him again on Saturday. The trainer/jockey angle looks profitable. Arroyo Jr and trainer Jeff Greenhill have combined for a 7-4-2-0 record on the current meet.
While he still has to pass the class test, look for Mac the Man to continue his improvement and contend for the win.
Fear the Kitten won his first two races and then finished fifth, 4.75 lengths behind Uncaptured at the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He was then transferred to trainer Michael Maker and has finished third and second, well behind the runaway winners at the G3 Lecomte and G3 Southwest.
On his last race he was ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who is having the best start of a year in her career, and returns to ride him. He also improved 15 points on his Beyers last time out.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has been on the news lately with his Kentucky Derby prospects. He brings Channel Isle, who finished a distant fourth in the G3 Southwest Stakes last time out, 4.5 lengths behind Fear the Kitten.
Taken by the Storm is a multiple winner on turf against optional claiming/allowance company, but finished sixth, over 10 lengths on the optional claiming/allowance win by Capo Bastone.
Black Onyx was transferred to Kelly Breen prior to his last race, an optional claiming/allowance race over the Gulfstream Park turf course in late February. That last race was a huge improvement from his first three starts, but this will be a much better lineup than what he's faced so far.
The Top Three finishers of the John Battaglia Memorial here at Turfway Park on Mar. 2, General Election, Giant Finish and For Greater Glory, complete the field.
Win - Uncaptured (3)
Place - Mac the Man (7)
Show - Balance the Books (1)
Spiral Stakes | Grade 3 | Purse: $550,000
Turfway Park | 10th Race | Post Time: 5:50 p.m. ET
Distance: 1800 Meters (9.0 furlongs)
|1 ||Balance the Books||Julien R. Leparoux||Chad C. Brown||7-2|
|2||Channel Isle||Jon K. Court||D. Wayne Lukas||15-1|
|3||Uncaptured||Miguel Mena||Mark Casse||3-1|
|4||Fear the Kitten||Rosie Napravnik||Michael J. Maker||15-1|
|5||My Name is Michael||Joel Rosario||William I. Mott||10-1|
|6||For Greater Glory||Robbie J. Albarado||Steve Hobby||20-1|
|7||Mac the Man||Norberto Arroyo Jr.||Jeff Greenhill||10-1|
|8||General Election||Albin Jimenez||Kellyn Gorder||12-1|
|9||Black Onyx||Joe Bravo||Kelly J. Breen||10-1|
|10||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza||Anthony W. Dutrow||15-1|
|11||Taken by the Storm||Alan Garcia||Kenneth G. McPeek||12-1|
|12||Capo Bastone||John R. Velazquez||Todd A. Pletcher||9-2|
Top Recent Workouts
|Horse||Date||Track/Surface||Distance||Time ||Day Rank|
|Fear the Kitten (4)||Mar. 3||PMM/Dirt||4F||48.00||1-of-23|
|Balance the Books (1)||Mar. 3||TP/Synth||4F||48.18||1-of-52|
Morning Line odds by drf.com.