FLORENCE, KY . . . February 28, 2009 . . .Proceed Bee earned his second stakes win Saturday, running down a game Parade Clown in the stretch to take the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes by a length and a quarter.
With the scratch of Fitzaslew, pacesetting chores eventually fell to Dynamite Bob and Platinum Van, but as the field rounded the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile race, five of the seven horses were ranged across the track. Parade Clown, who broke from the outside post as the 3-5 favorite, was eager to join the fray and rounded the turn widest of all.
Straightening down the backstretch, Dynamite Bob and Platinum Van raced in front a head apart, while Parade Clown raced two lengths behind and Proceed Bee tracked in fourth. Parade Clown challenged leaving the backstretch and had the lead by a head entering the stretch, but Proceed Bee, with Rodney Prescott aboard, came wide with a bid of his own and took over. Parade Clown dug in for another try but settled for second, 3 1/2 lengths better than Toccet Rocket, who closed after trailing half the race.
"Rodney did a great job riding him," said winning trainer Terry Gestes. "He was a little green around the second turn and wanted to shy away from horses, so Rodney had to stay after him, tap him on the shoulder.
"He's just young. The first few races he sprinted and ran pretty clean. The last couple of races, going longer, he had little problems—reared at the start, and then when a horse drifted out turning for home, he propped and dove for the rail. So we're just figuring him out, trying to put him together. It's maturity—some take more time than others, and you've got to stick with it and not get in a rush. He's got to put it all together."
Gestes said a couple of stakes were on the radar as Proceed Bee's "maturity race," including the Rushaway Stakes on the Lane's End undercard.
K. K. Ball, who trains Parade Clown, said, "I don't take anything away from the winner. He ran a great race. Our horse was wide and aggressive on the first turn, and the first turn is a big deal in two-turn races. It was an uneven trip. He's changing his running style, getting more aggressive. He’s a three-year-old in the spring; he's changing. He's been running about every three weeks, so we'll see how he comes out and then decide about the Lane's End."
Completing the order of finish were Shanes Gold, Stratos, Dynamite Bob, and Platinum Van.
Fitzaslew, 2-1 on the morning line, turned up colicky this morning after having shipped from Florida to Lexington and was scratched, said trainer Ken McPeek. "We treated him and he came out of it," said McPeek. McPeek said the promising colt would be pointed toward the Rushaway.
After moderate opening fractions, Proceed Bee finished the 1 1/16 mile Battaglia Memorial in 1:47.49 and paid $10.40 as the 4-1 third choice. He now has four wins and one third in six career starts and earnings of $137,594. Proceed Bee is raced by William Stiritz.
Racing continues Sunday at Turfway with a 1:10 p.m. post.