Graham Motion, who won the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes last year with eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) and Eclipse Award winner Animal Kingdom, has nominated five this year. Among them are four for last year’s winning owner Team Valor International, including Lucky Chappy, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G3) and runner-up by a nose in the El Camino Real (G3); Howe Great, last-out winner of the Kitten’s Joy Stakes; and State of Play, winner last fall of the With Anticipation (G3) and probable for the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway on March 3.
Mike Maker also has two Spiral Stakes trophies, saddling With a City in 2006 and Dean’s Kitten in 2010. Heading his 10 nominations to this year’s race is Kentucky Cup Juvenile, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and Eclipse Award winner Hansen. Maker also nominated Mr. Prankster and the filly Lotta Lovin, though the latter is expected to make her next start in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) on the Spiral Stakes undercard. Mr. Prankster won the first two local preps for the Spiral Stakes and is eyeing the third, the Battaglia Memorial. Lotta Lovin swept all three filly preps for the Bourbonette.
Todd Pletcher, who won Turfway’s Derby prep race in 2001 with Balto Star and in 2005 with Flower Alley, this year nominated eight, including Gemologist, undefeated winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2); Big Blue Nation, third in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) last fall; and Dan and Sheila, fourth in the LeComte (G3
Longtime Kentucky trainer Dale Romans has yet to win the Spiral Stakes but this year nominated 12, including Dullahan, winner of the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and Quick Wit, third in the Hutcheson (G2).
Steve Asmussen likewise has not won Turfway’s race but this year nominates four, including Daddy Nose Best, last-out winner of the El Camino Real, and Major Hope, third in Saturday’s Borderland Derby. Asmussen also trains Beer Garden, the lone nomination representing the race’s sponsor, Vinery Racing.
The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes was established in 1972 and achieved graded status in 1984. This year’s running will be broadcast by NBC/NBC Sports Network as the first installment of the networks’ Road to the Kentucky Derby series.