Thursday, February 25, 2010 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 25, 2010 . . . The top five finishers in last month's WEBN Stakes return to Turfway Park Saturday for the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the last local prep for the Lane's End Stakes on March 27. Eight three-year-olds are entered for the Battaglia Memorial, run at 1 1/16 miles over Polytrack.
Kera's Kitten stumbled badly out of the gate in the first local prep, the six-furlong Turfway Prevue, and finished seventh. He turned that result all the way around in the one-mile WEBN Stakes, leading at every call to win by two-and-a-half lengths. Twice a stakes winner, Kera's Kitten is three-for-five in his young career, with all three wins coming in front-running fashion. He has been training steadily and well at Turfway for Mike Maker, and Tom Pompell, aboard for the WEBN, is back aboard Saturday.
Slewzoom raced in third behind Kera's Kitten in the WEBN and finished second. Lucky Chuck raced in second and wide in the WEBN and finished third as the 3-1 favorite. Both retain their riders, Angel Stanley on Slewzoom for trainer John Wainwright and Ben Creed on Lucky Chuck for trainer David Pate.
Pathoki was fourth in the WEBN but enters Saturday off a four-length optional allowance win at Turfway two weeks ago. He was first at the Battaglia distance three starts back on the dirt at Churchill though disqualified to second. Rodney Prescott is back up for trainer Lowell Stevens.
Fish was second in the Turfway Prevue but fifth in the WEBN after checking on the final turn. Orlando Mojica was up for the Prevue and has the call again for trainer Phil Sims.
Besides the WEBN reunion, the Battaglia Memorial notably drew graded-stakes placed Codoy, making his first start since finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) in early November. He entered that race after finishing second in Keeneland’s Bourbon Stakes (G3) to Interactif, who next was third in the Juvenile Turf. Codoy jumped into graded stakes competition off a maiden special win at Turfway for trainer Mark Hubley. Codoy has never had the same rider twice in six starts and Saturday gets Sal Gonzalez Jr.
Completing the eight-horse Battaglia Memorial field are In the Paint and Vow to Wager. In the Paint ran into traffic trouble in the WEBN and finished seventh. Rex Stokes gets the call this time for trainer Kellyn Gorder, replacing Fernando De La Cruz. Vow to Wager enters after winning a Turfway maiden special by five lengths despite stumbling at the start. Leading rider John McKee is back aboard Saturday for trainer Dale Romans.
The Battaglia Memorial Stakes is named for the late John Battaglia, former general manager of Turfway Park and the first to envision a race at the Florence, Ky., track for horses on the Kentucky Derby trail. That race, first run in 1972 as the Spiral Stakes, is today the Grade II $500,000 Lane's End Stakes.
The Battaglia Memorial Stakes is the 11th of 12 races on Saturday's card. First post is 1:10pm EST.