-By Dick Jerardi
Right after he won the first graded stakes of his career, trainer Carlos Guerrero said he needed a few days before he could commit to trying to win the first Grade I race of his career.
After Spun to Run’s thrilling win in the Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes on Labor Day at Parx, the trainer took that time to evaluate owner Robert Donaldson’s horse. Guerrero liked what he saw, so Spun to Run will be entered in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 21 where he will be running against Kentucky Derby winner (for 20 minutes) Maximum Security and Preakness winner War of Will.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Guerrero said.
Spun to Run tried Maximum Security in the Grade I Haskell Invitational on July 20. The colt by Pennsylvania-Bred Hard Spun finished third, 9 1/4 lengths behind Max. But there were extenuating circumstances. It was Spun to Run’s first race in four months, his first race since surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis, and jockey Paco Lopez, against instructions, took Spun to Run from behind horses on the turn sooner than the trainer wished.
Guerrero does not think the colt was going to win that day, but does think he would have been closer. Lopez waited longer behind horses in the Smarty Jones Stakes and the colt had a much stronger finish. After getting passed by Ellis Park Derby winner Gray Magician in the stretch, Spun to Run came back to take the lead and was easing away at the finish line. This was, just as the trainer expected, a better horse in the Smarty Jones than he was in the Haskell. The winning Smarty Jones Beyer Speed Figure was 97, five points lower than the Haskell’s Beyer of 102, about three lengths on the track
So Spun to Run will have to be better again to win the Pa. Derby, but you can’t win if you are not in.
Spun to Run was purchased for $64,000 at the Timonium two-year-old sale right after the 2018 Preakness. Guerrero knew quickly this was a good one.
“He showed me a lot of class when I started training him, very professional with everything,” Guerrero said.
The colt did not win any of his first four starts, but he ran well enough and those were sprints. After the Smarty Jones win, Spun to Run is now 3-for-4 around two turns, including that third in the Haskell.
“It’s funny when you win a claimer and then you win a graded race,” Guerrero said. “Everybody and their mother, it’s like congratulations.”
The Pa. Derby likely will be Spun to Run’s final race of 2019 unless, of course, the colt wins. Then, they will have a lot to think about.
Soon after the Smarty Jones Stakes, the lady who cuts Guerrero’s hair reminded him what he had said about Spun to Run when he was getting a haircut on Jan. 14, near where he lives in South Jersey.
“Keep an eye on this horse,” he told her then. “He’s going to be a nice one.”
Spun to Run has now won $300,000 more than his purchase price, so he is definitely a nice one.
Spun to Run won’t have to go Maximum Security’s home track at Monmouth Park this time. All of them will be coming to Parx, Spun to Run’s home track. On to the Pennsylvania Derby.