Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated stamped his ticked to the Kentucky Derby (GI) in five weeks with an impressive just-off-the-pace victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Spiral Stakes (GIII) at Turfway Park. The son of Kitten’s Joy, who earned 50 points for the Run for the Roses, isn’t yet nominated to any of the Triple Crown races, but fans can expect him to be in the gate on the first Saturday in May if they know anything about his gregarious owner and his quest to win the most important race on North American soil.
The Mike Maker-trained Oscar Nominated was ridden to victory by Brian Hernandez Jr, who stepped in for jockey Robby Albarado after he took of his mounts for the day, and guided the chestnut son of Kitten’s Joy to victory by a neck at longshot odds of more than 23-1. Oscar Nominated paid $49.20, $18 and $11, keying a nice $359 exacta over runner-up Azar, who was good for $9 and $6.40 at odds of 8-1. Fellow 8-1 chance Surgical Strike closed from way back to earn third, crossing the wire another neck behind the runner-up, and returned $5.40. The trifecta paid $2,505.40.
Two Step Time, Ralis, Don’t Be So Salty, Kasseopia, the 2-1 favored Airoforce, Strike Up the Band, Jensen, Swagger Jagger and That Makes Sense completed the order of finish after Crescent Drive and Diplodocus were scratched.
From the break, Ralis and Azar established their positions dueling for the front-running position, the former having his head in front to log the opening quarter-mile in :23.22 but giving up his advantage to his stalker before he posted a half-mile in :48.23. Oscar Nominated, meanwhile, stalked the early leaders in sixth and also six wide until they started to round the far bend.
Oscar Nominated began his move as Azar sped past three quarters in 1:13.62 and took dead-aim on the leader, who was the only runner in front of him past a mile in 1:38.74, and ran his last rival down in the final strides to prevail, while both successfully held off the late challenge from Surgical Strike to claim the exacta.
The final time for the nine furlongs over Turfway’s synthetic all-weather surface was 1:51.12.
Oscar Nominated’s victory marks the third Sprial win for his owners, who also owned 2010 hero Dean’s Kitten (when it was the Jim Beam Stakes) and We Miss Artie in 2014. This year’s Spiral winner is a son of the Ramsey’s stallion, Kitten’s Joy, but did not start his career in their familiar red and white silks adorned with the prominent red “R” on the front. He was claimed for $75,000 from his breeder, Amerman Racing, LLC and trainer Bill Mott at Belmont Park last October and has since earned two seconds and a win in the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds in February for his current connections.
Oscar Nominated earned $282,000 for his first graded stakes victory and more than tripled his career earnings to $371,850. Overall, he’s racked up a career line of 7-3-2-0. If he makes the Derby gate it will be the colt’s first start on dirt, having raced only on the turf and the synthetics since he began his career at Saratoga last August.