Thursday, March 3, 2005 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 3, 2005 . . . In just over 100 seconds this Saturday, six of the nine horses running in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park will know a little more about their plans for the Lane’s End Stakes. Run at 1 1/16 miles, the $100,000 Battaglia Memorial is the last local prep for the Grade II $500,000 Lane’s End three weeks later.
Heading the field for the Battaglia Memorial are Malibu Moonshine, Pavo, and Magna Graduate. Malibu Moonshine, trained by King Leatherbury and ridden by Steve Hamilton, is fresh off a closing effort to win the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park. Boxed in early, Malibu Moonshine was eighth at the half but powered up to win by most of two lengths in that one-mile race. He is four-for-seven lifetime and looks to the Battaglia for his third straight win.
Pavo has the City Zip Stakes on his resume, a sprint for two-year-olds at Aqueduct. He has speed but has learned to wait off the pace for trainer Jennifer Pedersen and jockey Alan Garcia. Pavo was second in his last start, the Fred Caposella two weeks ago, also an Aqueduct sprint. He has won at a mile and was third at 1 1/16 miles, but distance may be the question for Pavo in the Battaglia.
With graded stakes money is Magna Graduate, runner-up to Greater Good in the Grade III Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park last fall. Most recently he was third behind High Fly in the Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream in January. Except for his maiden win at 5 1/2 furlongs, Magna Graduate has never run shorter than a mile, and he has a Keeneland allowance win at the Battaglia distance. Turfway’s leading rider, Dean Sarvis, rides for trainer Patrick Byrne.
Bringing early speed are Western Bulldog, Justin Vitek up, and Ultimate, with the hot-riding Rodney Prescott aboard. Both come in off wire-to-wire maiden wins in February. For Ultimate, trained by Nick Zito, the 8-length win was an effortless romp over 7 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream. Western Bulldog, trained by Jason Cook, went a mile at Turfway to win by 5 3/4 lengths. Interline, shipping from New York, is the last of the six Battaglia starters also nominated to the Lane’s End Stakes. Orlando Mojica will ride Interline.
Completing the field and not nominated to the Lane’s End are Cat Shaker (Jeff Johnston), third in the one-mile WEBN Stakes at Turfway; Chirinda Forest (Mathieu Adam), also in off a maiden win; and Smart Voyager (Eddie Zuniga), the only filly in the field.
The John Battaglia Memorial Stakes is named for the former general manager of Latonia Race Course, Turfway Park’s predecessor. Battaglia, the father of long-time track announcer and NBC analyst Mike Battaglia, was the force behind the race he called the Spiral Stakes. Today called the Lane’s End Stakes, the race remains what Battaglia envisioned back in 1972: a prep race for horses hoping to wear roses on the first Saturday in May.
Post time Saturday is 1:10 p.m. Admission and parking are free.