Sterling Racing's Black Onyx made his stakes debut a winning one and secured a Kentucky Derby berth in Saturday's Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, posting a 1 1/2-length decision over Uncaptured. A turf allowance/optional claiming scorer in his previous outing at Gulfstream Park, the Kelly Breen-trained colt has now won three of five career starts. Joe Bravo was up.
Black Onyx earned 50 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring system for the win.
The son of Rock Hard Ten stalked the pace in fifth as Mac the Man sprinted forward at the break and completed the opening quarter-mile in :23 3/5. The pacesetter was being closely tracked by Giant Finish and Taken By the Storm entering the backstretch, and Black Onyx was only 2 1/2 lengths back after a half-mile in :48 1/5, racing closely with Uncaptured and My Name is Michael.
Taken by the Storm moved to the fore on the far turn when the pacesetter began to weaken, reaching the six-furlong mark in 1:13 with a half-length advantage, but Black Onyx was also making serious headway and overhauled his rival after straightening into the stretch drive, forging his way to a short lead. Uncaptured was also in the mix as well at the head of the lane and it quickly became a two-horse affair.
Uncaptured, who was making his first appearance since winning last fall's Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, momentarily loomed a danger as he tried determinedly to catch Black Onyx in the final furlong, but the winner had more than enough in reserve and finished the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:51 4/5.
Off as the 15-1 sixth choice among 12 opponents, Black Onyx paid $33.40, $14.20 and $10.80 to his supporters.
Uncaptured wound up a length clear in second as the 3-1 second favorite. Giant Finish grabbed third, a length better than fourth-placer Taken By the Storm, who was followed under the wire by Fear the Kitten, For Greater Glory, Channel Isle, 3-1 favorite My Name is Michael, Capo Bastone, General Election and Balance the Books. Mac the Man was eased and walked off the track.
Bred in Kentucky by Cloverleaf Farms II Inc., Black Onyx was purchased for $125,000 at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale. He is out of the winning Cape Town mare Kalahari Cat, making him a half-brother to stakes winner Francois and Grade 2-placed Quality Council, and his broodmare is a half-sister to Grade 3-placed stakes winner Desert Gold, the dam of Group 1 winner White Moonstone.
Black Onyx's third maternal dam produced Desert Stormer, who captured the 1995 Breeders' Cup Sprint over males. Desert Stormer is responsible for Grade 2 winner Sahara Gold, dam of Grade 1 heroine Better Lucky, and another daughter produced multiple Grade 2 victor Casino Host.
With Saturday's $317,130 payday, Black Onyx increased his lifetime earnings to $407,810 and his career line reads 5-3-1-0.