By Dick Jerardi
When I spoke to trainer Carlos Guerrero for 30 minutes the night before the July 20 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, you could hear the enthusiasm through the phone line.
He explained he had planned to run Spun to Run in the Federico Tesio Stakes in the spring, hoping to get to the Preakness. That was before it was found that the colt had an entrapped epiglottis which would require surgery.
After Spun to Run returned to training at Parx, Guerrero realized when he watched the colt’s attention wander during a routine gallop that he needed full cup blinkers.
Once equipped with blinkers, Spun to Run, already talented, turned a corner in his training and Guerrero started thinking big again.
The maiden win in January and the allowance win in March both were so nice that the trainer was thinking Preakness. His training over the summer made him think Haskell.
After a crazy day at Monmouth Park that started late, was delayed nearly five hours in hopes that it would cool off just a bit (it did cool off, but just a bit), that indeed was Spun to Run cruising down the backstretch on a loose rein under jockey Paco Lopez, sitting just behind a grouping of three horses that included Maximum Security. As the field neared the end of the far turn, only three of the six horses in the race were still running hard – Maximum Security, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby before being disqualified, Mucho Gusto, trained by Bob Baffert, winner of eight Haskells, and Spun to Run.
That the top two eventually got away from Spun to Run and had a race of their own to the wire which was eventually won by Maximum Security mattered to a wider world. That Spun to Run finished a clear third mattered too.
“Man, he ran great,” Guerrero said the next morning.
Spun to Run ran that well even though it was his first start in the nearly four months. With that race to get the colt even more fit, there is no telling what we might see next for the colt owned by Robert Donaldson.
It is very likely, Guerrero said, that Spun to Run’s next start will be at his home track on Labor Day in the Smarty Jones Stakes. He won’t be 34-1 that day. And he won’t be running against Maximum Security.
When Lopez came to Parx to work Spun to Run, the jockey told Guerrero the horse actually seems to like getting hit by dirt when he sits behind horses.
In fact, if Lopez could do it over again, he would have waited longer to tip Spun to Run out in the Haskell. He was never going to beat the top two, but the jockey thinks he would have been closer at the finish if he had sat behind them a bit longer.
It is also true that Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto had each raced three times since Spun to Run’s last race so the colt had a reason to get a little tired in the stretch of a mile and an eighth race.
So the Smarty Jones Stakes is next. And if the colt wins or at least runs really well, the Pennsylvania Derby 19 days later at Parx might be a consideration.
Nothing about Spun to Run’s third in the Haskell looked fluky. The trainer was not the least bit surprised. Now, we will all see how good the colt might turn out to be.