96ROCK Opens Way to Spiral Stakes

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9:36 am EST

Eight entries were taken for the 96ROCK Stakes Saturday at Turfway Park, a local steppingstone to the Horseshoe Casino Spiral Stakes in late March.

Mike Maker trains two of the top contenders for the race, shortened this year from a mile to 6 1/2 furlongs. Artemus Coalmine has two career starts, and both have come over Turfway’s Polytrack. He was the front-running speed in both, winning a maiden special weight on Dec. 27 at the 96ROCK distance and coming back two weeks later to finish second by a neck in a mile optional allowance. Albin Jimenez, the meet’s top rider, was aboard for both starts and is back to ride Saturday. Artemus Coalmine is owned by the powerhouse stable of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, and the Ramsey-Maker-Jimenez combination has been tough to beat at Turfway.

Maker also will saddle Harry’s Holiday. The son of Harlan’s Holiday was fifth last out in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay on Jan. 4, a seven furlong effort, but two starts back he came from off the pace to win an optional starter allowance Dec. 20 at Gulfstream Park. He broke his maiden at first asking on the dirt at Churchill and was claimed out of that race by Terry Raymond, co-owner now with Harry Diamond’s Skychai Racing. Jeremy Rose makes the journey to Turfway for his first ride on Harry’s Holiday.

The question for Harry’s Holiday is Turfway’s Polytrack. The son of Harlan’s Holiday has no starts and shows no works over a synthetic surface.

Bisque brings a gritty stakes win to the event, a head victory in the state-restricted Indiana Futurity in October, run at a mile on a sloppy sealed track. Tom Amoss gave him a couple of months off after that effort and brought him back in late December to win a 5 1/2-furlong optional allowance at Fair Grounds that was shifted from the turf to another sloppy sealed track. Like Harry’s Holiday, Bisque shows neither starts nor workouts on a synthetic surface, but he won his first start by more than seven lengths on the turf at Indiana Downs, and that form might convert on Saturday. Joseph Berrios gets the mount for the first time.

A plus for both Bisque and Harry’s Holiday: Both have been training at southern tracks or training centers. Recent sub-zero temperatures at Turfway have hampered training for Artemus Coalmine and others in the field, and it's affected the number of entries as well.

The field for the 96ROCK Stakes from the rail out: Midnight Shine (Rodney Prescott); Reflector (Lori Wydick); Dubaele (Alejandro Contreras); Harry’s Holiday; Bisque; Forfeit (Ben Creed); Artemus Coalmine; and I Need a Miracle (Perry Ouzts).

Bisque is the 96ROCK highweight at 122 pounds; the others carry 118 pounds.

The 96ROCK Stakes is the eighth of nine races on Saturday’s card. First post is 1:10 p.m.

The 96ROCK Stakes is one of two local preps this year for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes. The second comes a month later in the 1 1/16-mile John Battaglia Memorial Stakes on March 1.

Edited Turfway Park release