Mucciolo’s Sophomore Spotlight: Spiral & Sunland Derby Preview

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March 23rd, 2017

Spiral (G3):

A dozen sophomores will go nine furlongs on the Polytrack at Turfway Park Saturday in the $500,000 Spiral S. (G3). While this race is always a tough read for me as to who may go forward on the Derby Trail and be a contender rather than a pretender, a few nice youngsters are in the field.

KITTEN’S CAT has class, speed and fitness with a fine foundation under him for conditioner Mike Maker. Son of Kitten’s Joy got passed after leading late in a Grade 3 turf run last time and the move to synthetic could seamless for the bay colt. I would like to see this likely favorite try the dirt at some point with his class.

GIANT PAYDAY has displayed a nice turn of foot on both the lawn and main oval and I think he is a contender in this field for sure. Chestnut son of Giant’s Causeway had a string of four top-two finishes snapped most recently in the grassy Palm Beach S. (G3),  but the three-year-old still ran a decent one and offers value here. The Ian Wilkes pupil will not be a Kentucky Derby player in my opinion but he could peak in his third run off the shelf to make noise inside the final furlong at a number.

Eddie Kenneally’s PARLOR is a late Triple Crown nominee who is a head shy of being unbeaten from a trio of lifetime runs. Dark bay son of Lonhro has a big turn of foot from three turf races to date and while bred top and bottom to excel on the green, the colt has talent and might be the one to take this field down in his local debut under Jesus Castanon.

Trainer Todd Pletcher is once again being dominant in the prep season, so I have to give BRONSON a long look in this field. The improving son of Medaglia d’Oro is a total mystery to me as to how far he wants to run, as well as how much class he might possess, but I trust the connections and envision this one being a nice fit in the Spiral after some fine morning drills in preparation. His future likely will be on the lawn, though.

SOGLIO has been consistently pretty good for conditioner Graham Motion, who is no stranger to this race having won three of the past nine editions. Son of Scat Daddy has a pedigree to run on anything in my view, but he will need a lifetime-best performance before being mentioned as a Triple Crown type runner.

Sunland Derby (G3):

Like the Spiral, 12 will go to the gate at Sunland Park on Sunday in the lucrative $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3). I don’t see a Kentucky Derby winner in this field, though it might be a very good betting race with a bevy of runners who could break through at the graded level.

HEDGE FUND makes a third lifetime try for conditioner Todd Pletcher and showed marked improvement last time in a strong maiden score at Gulfstream Park. Son of Super Saver was wearing blinkers while going long for the first time in that heist and finished very well in getting his final five-sixteenths in :31 2/5. Kentucky-bred comes in fresh with five morning drills since and might be a nice long-term prospect with a forward move off of that maiden score.

Much like hedge Fund, BRONZE AGE graduated in a big way last time in a route debut and trainer Bob Baffert knows a thing or two about preparing three-year-olds. Expensive son of Mineshaft may have “flipped the switch” recently with the win and some swift morning moves in the interim and another big performance may make a believer out of me.

The Doug O’Neill-trained IRAP remains a maiden but obviously has some class to him in being a three-time stakes runner-up. $300,000 son of Tiznow was a solid second in the local prep for this and puts the hood back on, but he surely has to win a race first before being mentioned among the better in his division. With that said, the colt will be a factor in this spot with something close to his best.

The unbeaten CONQUEST MO MONEY gets a miserable post draw being parked widest of all and my opinion of him will skyrocket if he defeats this field from out there. Bay son of Uncle Mo has raced solely on this main oval from a trio of lifetime races but needs to get a whole lot faster for trainer Miguel Hernandez. The bargain $8,500 purchase has been versatile in winning from on the lead or from off the pace, and this race will tell me a lot as to how classy the colt really is.