Kentucky’s Turfway Park will once again host the Spiral Stakes this weekend. It is the last challenge amongst the Kentucky Derby Prep races that offers a 50-20-10-5 point split. Run over nine furlongs on a dirt track, the Horseshoe Casino sponsored event ponies up a purse of $550,000.
An absolutely dense field will be headlined by Airoforce, one of the more well known competitors on the derby trail. Trained by Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley, Airoforce is still searching for his first win during the 2016 campaign since falling way short at his season debut. The derby longshot was 10th at the Risen Star Stakes in February.
It’s a curious result for Airoforce who ended 2015 with a strong run. He placed second at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf behind Hit It A Bomb, and rallied past Mor Spirit at the Kentucky Jockey Club a month later. By sheer name value alone, Airoforce will likely be the lead horse in the morning line odds but it’s a daring bet given his track record so far. Airoforce simply has too much left to prove and is probably left better as a choice to place or show.
The other heavy consideration at the Spiral Stakes will be Surgical Strike, who is coming off a win at the John Battaglia Memorial just a few short weeks ago. The Ben Colebrook trainee looked strong in beating second place runner Whatawonderfulworld who will also compete at the Spiral Stakes. Swagger Jagger (9th) and Strike up the Band (4th) are also nominated for this weekend’s Turfway Park race.
The relatively unknown Jensen, who is 2-2-0 in four allowances so far, will make his majors debut under Larry Jones at the Spiral Stakes and is as tempting as anyone in the field. If you’re going to take a wild flier on any horse in this race, it’s going to be Jensen.
The 1 1/8th mile Spiral Stakes has not produced a bounty of Triple Crown hopefuls, but it also happened to be the chosen prep race of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. It was also won in 2007 by Hard Spun, who placed at that year’s Kentucky Derby while sliding in to third at the Preakness Stakes. One of the reasons that it does not feature so many well-known winners is the distance, which tailors more so to sprinters than it does to milers.
The 12-field race is going to offer an exciting race,but Airoforce, Jensen and Surgical Strike remain the lead choices to build your bets around.