Airoforce heads overflow Spiral field

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 30th, 2016

Airoforce has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $500,000 Spiral (G3) at Turfway Park. An accomplished turf performer, the Mark Casse-trained colt figures to appreciate the switch to Polytrack following a disappointing 10th as the favorite in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, his first attempt on a fast dirt track.

The second of two synthetic races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the 1 1/8-mile Spiral will award points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.

Winner of his first two starts on turf, including the Bourbon (G3), Airoforce recorded a fast-closing neck second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Connections elected to test him on the main oval in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in late November and the gray Colonel John colt received a sloppy track that benefited him, scoring by a widening 1 ¾-length margin over runner-up Mor Spirit, with Mo Tom checking in third and Gun Runner fourth.

Leading Turfway jockey Albin Jimenez will pick up the mount and Airoforce will start from post 10.

The Spiral attracted an overflow field of 14, including a pair of also-eligibles, and three-time Spiral winner Todd Pletcher appears well-represented by Azar, a Grade 2 juvenile winner on turf who exits an allowance victory on Gulfstream Park’s main track. The Scat Daddy colt is listed as the 5-1 second choice with new rider Manny Franco.

Jensen will make his stakes debut for Larry Jones following a 6 ¾-length romp over allowance rivals at Fair Grounds. A son of Hard Spun, who win the 2007 Spiral on Polytrack, Jensen is listed as the 6-1 co-third choice with regular rider Florent Geroux. Kasseopia, a last-out third in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) on the Tapeta synthetic track at Golden Gate Fields, is also an early 6-1 along Ralis, a Grade 1-winning juvenile who will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 10th in the Rebel (G2) two weeks ago.

Other contenders include Don’t Be Salty (8-1 morning line), winner of the Display on Woodbine’s Polytrack last fall; Fair Grounds turf stakes victor Oscar Nominated (10-1); and last-out Sam Houston turf stakes winner Two Step Time (15-1).

Airoforce photo courtesy of Reed Palmer