Zipse: Spun to Run takes top speed figures into Cigar Mile

If I asked you which 3-year-old has both the highest and the second highest Beyer Speed Figure around two turns this year, who would you guess?

Maximum Security, Code of Honor, or Omaha Beach might be the first ones who come to mind, but the correct answer is actually Spun to Run.

A relative unknown when exiting a four-month layoff over the summer, the Hard Spun colt entered the Haskell Invitational (G1) back in July and has since become one of the hottest horses in the division.

How did it happen? Let's start at the beginning …

Spun to Run clearly has inherited a good amount of his sire's speed and class. Remember back in 2007 how fast Hard Spun would run early, only to be tough as nails down the stretch? He was tough to pass anywhere from seven furlongs to 1 1/4 miles.

As for Spun to Run, he was purchased by owner Robert Donaldson for $64,000 at Timonium in the spring of his 2-year-old season. The good looking dark bay proved to be a work in progress early in his career.

Competitive, but not winning, while sprinting in his early races, he did not break his maiden for trainer Carlos Guerrero until he was stretched out in his fifth career start.

That two-turn debut came at Parx Racing, his home base, on Jan.19. A romping win came next in an optional claimer, also at Parx, and his connections began thinking the Preakness Stakes would be a possibility.

Surgery on an entrapped epiglottis slowed the progression, though. After recovery and outfitting the colt with blinkers in workouts, the rather unusual decision to graduate from the minor leagues to a million-dollar race, all while coming off a layoff, was made.

In the Haskell, Spun to Run went off as a 34-1 afterthought in a field of six. The headliner, of course, was Maximum Security.

The Florida Derby winner had been disqualified from a Kentucky Derby victory, and was looking to rebound from a surprising defeat. But in the Haskell he was at his best. He turned away the challenge of Mucho Gusto and was a popular Haskell winner as the heavy favorite.

Meanwhile, Spun to Run was steadied early but still managed to run an encouraging third. Six weeks later he came back to gamely defeat Gray Magician in the Smarty Jones (G3) back at Parx after splitting horses in the stretch.

With his growing pains and breathing issue behind him, Spun to Run was becoming a serious racehorse. His third race following the layoff came in Parx's signature race, the rich Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

Wearing blinkers for the third time, Spun to Run was suddenly a legitimate threat in a big race, sent off at odds of 7-1 in a solid field. It was a field which did not include Maximum Security, though, who was scratched from the race during the week after a serious bout of colic. 

Things did not work out this time for Spun to Run at his home track. He was wide early and never got to the lead, ultimately finishing fifth. Still, he was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths in his second million-dollar race.

Back against easier company, Spun to Run was asked for just a little more speed early, three weeks after the Pennsylvania Derby. A listed stakes race at Parx became a showcase for his talents. The 6 3/4-length romp was enough for Donaldson to prompt his trainer into sending the colt west and a shot at the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Of course, the rest is history, as Spun to Run ran right to the early lead under Irad Ortiz Jr. and just kept on going over the likes of Omaha Beach.

With back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 110 and 109, Spun to Run has earned his place among America's best 3-year-olds. Saturday's Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct will give him the opportunity to validate that position.

Like in the Dirt Mile, he will face a deep field of older horses, but his main rival will once again be one of the faces of the 3-year-old division. Stepping in for Omaha Beach this time will be Spun to Run's old rival, Maximum Security.

Fresh off a return win in the Bold Ruler, Maximum Security is the leader of the division and will likely test Spun to Run from the outset. May the best horse win.

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