Grade III Spiral Stakes Analysis, Turfway Park – 3/22/2014

Break from Gate Editorial_659x378The Grade III Spiral Stakes will be run at Turfway Park on Saturday, with post time set for 6:28 ET. The Spiral has yielded some winners in the past that ultimately became very talented runners, including Animal Kingdom, Hard Spun and Flower Alley. Will there be another Animal Kingdom that comes out of this race and goes on to win the Kentucky Derby? Time will tell. Let’s take a quick look at some of the contenders for this year’s running of the Spiral Stakes.

Tamarando will likely be the favorite for this edition of the Spiral, and based off of his synthetic track record, he should be. Shipping in from Northern California for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Tamarando is the only multiple graded stakes winner in the field and has the benefit of having top jockey Russell Baze aboard. His closing running style means he’ll be at the mercy of pace and trip, but on his best day he’s a definite contender in this spot.

Almost Famous is a runner out of the Patrick Byrne barn that did no running at all in the Fountain of Youth last month at Gulfstream, mainly due to an early issue just out of the starting gate. He’s a horse that should be forwardly placed in this race, and on his best day has every right to be considered a player. He won’t be my selection, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this son of Unbridled’s Song run a big one.

Solitary Ranger is a horse coming off of a nice score in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway last month, done so in front running fashion. He’ll face pressure early from Almost Famous on his outside, but I’d imagine jockey Florent Geroux makes sure that this son of U S Ranger clears the field and gets to the lead. I love the fact that he’s won over three different tracks – Arlington’s polytrack, Fair Grounds’ yielding turf course, and Turfway’s polytrack. This horse has to be looked at as a gate-to-wire threat in this race.

We Miss Artie comes into the Spiral Stakes off a really poor effort in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream last month, and I truly believe it’s because this horse wants no part of a dirt surface. Luckily for this son of Artie Schiller, the Spiral is run on polytrack – which is much more comparable to turf than dirt. He should relish the synthetic surface at Turfway, and it never hurts when you’ve got John Velazquez aboard. This Pletcher entrant is sure to take quite a bit of money on Saturday, and I’d expect him to bounce back in a big way.

I love Coastline in this spot, and he’s going to be my selection to win the Spiral Stakes on Saturday. His race in the Southwest Stakes last month at Oaklawn was rather disappointing when you look at the beautiful trip he got, but I’ll attribute that to a horse that is still improving and the competition he was running against – the Southwest has come back to be a relatively live race with runners like Tapiture and Ride On Curlin running big in the Rebel Stakes last week. Coastline figures to sit within a length or two of the horses on the front end and get first run on the likes of We Miss Artie, Tamarando and Poker Player. This horse won impressively in his only start over a synthetic surface (Oct. 5, MSW @ Keeneland) and the notable workouts he’s had at the Ocala Training Center (all-weather track) recently suggest to me that he’s ready to flourish on Saturday. I like Coastline to win the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

SELECTION: 5 – Coastline, Stewart Elliott; ML 8-1

Matt Bernier picMatt Bernier was the youngest qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) this past year and he is one of the stars of the Esquire TV series Horseplayers. is pleased to offer his educational and expert analysis of major stakes races.

Share this with your horse racing friends
Handicapping tips from


* indicates required

Email Format

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More in Handicapping 101, Horse Racing News, Stakes Races Analysis

2014 SPRING MEET EDITION Now available! Winning Patterns now available on EVERY winning trainer!  Bonus Handicapping Articles If you handicap...