In the 12 months since her breakthrough victory in the 2011 Grade I Juddmonte Spinster, Flaxman Holding’s homebred Aruna has futility been trying to recapture that previous form, often finding her quest stymied by unfortunate luck along the way.
When all else fails, fall back on what you know. To that end, the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley is back in Sunday’s running of the $500,000 Spinster taking another swing at validating her connections’ unwavering faith in her ability.
In her five starts since taking last year’s Spinster, Aruna has one victory and a lot of excuses piled up. Aside from her triumph in Grade II Sheepshead Bay over the Belmont inner turf in May, the dark bay mare has endured some rough going including catching a wildly tepid pace during a sixth place effort in the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in April and stumbling at the start of the Grade I Beverly D. en route to finishing last as the favorite.
Sunday’s Spinster will mark the first time Aruna will be back racing over a synthetic surface since last year’s contest. If she can find the same turn of foot that produced her winning rally 12 months ago, trainer Graham Motion said she could earn herself a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf – a race she finished fifth in after another troubled trip.
“She came out of (the Beverly D) fine but it was devastating to me,” Motion said. ” I mean we pointed her for that race, she was favored and she falls flat on her face coming out of the gate. You know I want to get her back to the Breders’ Cup and if she runs back like she did last year she’s going to be very tough in the Spinster. She needs to run a similar race to go back to the Breeders’ Cup.
“People ask me if she’s lost a step and I don’t think she has but, she’s going to have to prove it in the Spinster.”
Installed as the 7-to-2 morning line favorite, Aruna might get her toughest challenge from some of the 3-year-olds in the field.
Front running Karlovy Vary has lost three of her last four starts but did triumph in the Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland this April.
Another sophomore, the Todd Pletcher trained In Lingerie took the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico this May but has run arguably her best career races over Polytrack. The daughter of Empire Maker – who will be joined in the Spinster by stablemate Disposablepleasure – broke her maiden at Turfway and won the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks in gate to wire fashion in just her third career start.
“Both fillies are training well and we’re sort of experimenting a little bit with Disposablepleasure on the synthetic for the first time,” said Pletcher, who conditions both fillies. “In Lingerie has handled (Turfway’s) synthetic surface well so we figure she might like this one.”