The Spiral Stakes take place at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky, typically in late-March. This race is a Grade 3 competition for three-year-old thoroughbreds at a distance of 1 1/8 miles, providing a purse of $550,000.
As one of the last races of the first leg during the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Spiral Stakes the winner earns 50 points, second place acquires 20 points, third place gets 10 points and fourth place garners 5 points.
This race was inaugurated in 1976 at the shuttered Latonia race track before it moved to Turfway Park in 1987. Since its inception, this race has lengthened by an eighth of a mile, starting as a one mile race from 1972 to 1981, becoming a 1 1/16-mile race between 1982 to 1987 and settling into its current distance of 1 1/8 miles in 1988. The Spiral Stakes earned designation as a Grade 3 race in 1984 and was quickly upgraded to a Grade 2 race in 1988. As of 2011, this event was downgraded to a Grade 3 competition, although it appears that Animal Kingdom’s win in the same year may help propel these stakes back to a Grade 2 race.
Different sponsors of the Spiral Stakes have lead to a fluctuating purse and seven different names for this event, including the Horseshoe Casino Spiral Stakes, Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, Lane’s End Stakes, Jim Beam Stakes and Galleryfurniture.com Stakes. The latter sponsor resulted in the biggest purse this race has seen, with a total of $750,000 in prize money offered in 1999.
The only filly to win this race was Serena’s Song in 1995, who also went on to take four Grade 1 races and the Eclipse award for three-year-old filly of the year. Other Eclipse Award winners who won the Spiral Stakes include Animal Kingdom and Prairie Bayou. Between 1990 and 1993, the winner of the Spiral Stakes went on to win at least one Triple Crown race. The largest win was a 12-3/4 length romp by Balto Star in 2001 while the speed record at the 1 1/8 miles distance was set by Hansel, who clocked a 1:46.60 in 1991.
Spiral Stakes Betting Odds
Keeping an eye out for stakes races without huge star power and favorites is an important part of succesful handicapping, as these types of races still draw good horses that may offer nice odds. Such was the case with the 2015 Spiral, with 8 of the 11 runners at better than 7-1. It was one of those in Dubai Sky that took the win, followed home by a 9-2 choice and a 38-1 choice, providing not only a decent Win payout, but a $83.80 exacta and a whopping $1369 trifecta – not to mention an additional $70-odd dollars in bonus money on that tri with Bovada’s exotic wager cash back program.
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* REMINDER! – you must be of legal age in your state or province to legally wager on thoroughbred or harness horse racing. Please bet responsibly!
2017 Spiral Stakes Contenders
In 2011, Animal Kingdom proved that despite the fact that the Spiral Stakes (G3) is contested over a synthetic surface, it is still a relevant Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race. The 2016 edition drew a full field of twelve and, with Airoforce a suspect favorite off of a poor last race, it was ripe for an upset.
Oscar Nominated, a son of Kitten’s Joy owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, stalked the pace and began to rally around the second turn. He drew even with the front-running Azar, a proven triple-threat on turf, dirt or synthetics, and dug in gamely to prevail by a neck in a blanket finish. Azar finished second, a neck ahead of Surgical Strike who nosed out Two Step Time.
Oscar Nominated will now be supplemented to the Kentucky Derby (G1).
2016 Order of Finish: Win Place Show
1st: Oscar Nominated $49.20 $18.00 $11.00
2nd: Aazr $9.00 $6.40
3rd: Surgical Strike $5.40
(Also Ran: Two Step Time, Ralis, Don’t Be So Salty, Kasseopia, Airoforce, Strike Up the Band, Jensen, Swagger Jagger, That Makes Sense Scratched: Crescent Drive, Diplodocus)
Check back closer to race time for the 2017 Spiral Stakes!