Friday, February 27, 2004 12:00 AM
Prep race starts a full slate of Lane’s End festivities
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 27, 2004 . . . For three-year-olds bearing the weight of Derby hopes, the sifting process continues this Saturday as Turfway Park presents the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. At 1 1/16 miles, the Battaglia is the last Turfway prep for the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes on Saturday, March 20. A win in the Lane’s End can in turn mean a trip to the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
Hoping for deja vu plus one is trainer Greg Foley, who last year won the Turfway Prevue, WEBN Stakes, and Battaglia with Champali before settling for third in the Lane’s End. Carrying the weight for Foley this year —literally, given his 121-pound impost—is Silver Minister. The lone gelding in the field, Silver Minister enters the Battaglia off three straight wins, including the Prevue and the mile-long WEBN. He took an early lead in his sprint victory but rated just fine around two turns, and he gets the benefit of Rafael Bejarano, his rider for all three victories and the leading rider in the country by wins.
Two others of the 12-horse field also carry 121 pounds: Maryland-bred White Mountain Boy and New York-bred Little Matth Man. White Mountain Boy wired the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Juvenile Championship on his last day as a two-year-old and followed that six-length victory by waiting to win the seven-furlong Goss L. Stryker Stakes. He enters the Battaglia undefeated, thanks in part to a DQ in the Rollicking Stakes that moved him from half a length back to first place. Trainer Phil Schoenthal thought enough of the colt to enter him in the Rollicking just two weeks after his maiden win, a 1 1/16-mile test in October. Abel Castellano Jr. has been aboard White Mountain Boy for all four starts and has the mount again.
Little Matth Man needed six tries to break his maiden but has two straight wins coming into the Battaglia, including the $75,000 Whirlaway on the inner track at Aqueduct. He was 15 lengths behind the leader before making his move to win by a length and a half. New rider Shannon Uske has the mount for trainer Martin Ciresa.
Risky Trick (Herberto Castillo Jr.), second in the Whirlaway, enters the Battaglia off three straight second-place stakes finishes. Peter the Rock (Jeff Johnston) makes the Battaglia his first stakes start after two straight Turfway wins, the last a mile in the mud.
Completing the field are Commandment (Tony D’Amico) and Tanner Danner (Billy Troilo), the only two starters not also nominated to the Lane’s End; Dancefortyniner (Daniel Coa); Terrifika (Dean Butler); Iron Rogue (Jason Lumpkins); Revolver Six (Fabio Arguello Jr.), the 69-1 shot who finished second in the WEBN; and Tap Dancing Mauk (Eddie Zuniga).
Post time for Saturday’s 12-race card is 1:10 p.m. EST. Parking and admission are free.
Commemoratives and giveaways kick off Lane’s End festivities
The Battaglia Memorial is the start of three weeks of promotions and activities leading up to the Lane’s End Stakes. On March 6, the first 1,500 patrons through the Turfway gates will receive a free Lane’s End Stakes hat. One week later, March 13, the first 2,000 patrons will receive a free 2004 commemorative Lane’s End glass.
Fifth Third, Leadership Foundation, HBPA sponsor Lane’s End charity events
Also on the 13th, Charity Night at the Tables takes over Turfway’s Terrace Room from 7 to 11:30 p.m. for Monte Carlo-style games and a Texas Hold ‘em poker tournament to benefit six Northern Kentucky charities. This is the third year for the charity event, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and presented by Turfway and the Northern Kentucky Leadership Foundation. Tickets for the event are available by calling Ruth Eger at (859) 578-6388.
Lane’s End Stakes week begins Monday, March 15, with the annual invitation-only dinner sponsored by the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) for the track’s horsemen. Proceeds from an auction at the dinner will go to the Michael Rowland Fund, established for the family of the jockey who died February 9 after a fall on the Turfway track. Next up is the Crawfish Boil on Tuesday, March 16. The spread-‘em-out-and-dig-in feast annually benefits Turfway charities; this year the proceeds also go to the Michael Rowland Fund.
Call to the Post set for March 18
Post positions for the Lane’s End Stakes will be drawn at the Call to the Post luncheon on Thursday, March 18. The luncheon will be held at noon in the Terrace Room.
General admission to the Lane’s End Stakes on March 20 is $10. Reserved seating is still available in the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent and other reserved areas. Tickets for the Call to the Post luncheon and/or the Lane’s End Stakes are available by calling Turfway Park at 859-371-0200.