Full Field to Contest 34th Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park
FLORENCE, Ky. (March 10, 2016) – The gate should be full for the oversubscribed John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, March 12, with 14 entered for the 1-1/16 mile test for 3-year-olds. The $100,000 listed race is a prep for the $500,000 Spiral Stakes (G3), a Kentucky Derby qualifier to be run April 2.
Three of the Battaglia entries already own stakes wins. Before finishing off the board in his most recent start, the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on the dirt at Tampa Bay, Whatawonderflworld racked up three straight wins, including the OBS Championship Stakes two starts back. That win bodes well for his effort on Saturday, as it covered the Battaglia distance and was run on the all-weather surface at the Ocala Training Center. Trained by Mark Casse, Whatawonderflworld is the field’s top earner with $140,200 in five starts. Malcolm Franklin has the call.
The other two stakes winners are trained by Mike Maker. Swagger Jagger won the one-mile Pulpit Stakes on the grass at Gulfstream Park West at two in November, coming from off the pace to get up by a neck in his sixth start. The Battaglia will be the second start of his sophomore season, following a fourth-place finish behind Whatawonderflworld in the OBS Championship, his only previous start on an all-weather surface. He broke his maiden at the Battaglia distance three starts back, also on the grass at Gulfstream Park West. In his favor is his most recent work, a five-furlong bullet in 1:00.40 at Turfway on March 5, the best of 17 at the distance. Turfway’s leading rider, Albin Jimenez, has the call.
Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Strike Up the Band comes in off two straight wins, most recently a 7-furlong starter stake at Gulfstream Park February 15. He came from well off the pace in both of those wins but was closer to the lead in his maiden win, a claiming sprint at Keeneland in his second start. The Ramseys are noted for finding claimers with promise and took him out of that race for $30,000 from the barn of Al Stall. The Battaglia will be Strike Up the Band’s first route attempt and his first look at an all-weather track. Leandro Gonçalves rides.
The horses that finished second, third and fourth in the WEBN Stakes, first local prep for the Spiral Stakes, return in the Battaglia, respectively Blue Wings, Surgical Strike and Oh Oz. Blue Wings has raced past 6-1/2 furlongs only once, finishing eighth over sloppy dirt at Remington Park. Surgical Strike was a close second going 1-1/16 miles in an allowance on the turf at Keeneland but finished well behind Swagger Jagger in the Pulpit. Oh Oz stretches out for the first time but has two runaway sprint wins on the Turfway Polytrack and gets the services of veteran Rodney Prescott.
Swagger Jagger and Whatawonderflworld are co-highweights at 124 lbs. Strike Up the Band will carry 122. All others carry 118.
The Battaglia Memorial field from the rail out, with jockeys, trainers and morning line odds:
- Sawyers Mickey (Dean Sarvis, Thomas M. Amoss, 30-1)
- Blue Wings (Richard Bracho, Patrick Huffman, 15-1)
- Triple Creek (John McKee, Michael J. Maker, 12-1)
- Oh Oz (Rodney Prescott, Chuck Peery, 12-1)
- Swagger Jagger (Albin Jimenez, Michael J. Maker, 3-1)
- Bandar (Sonny Leon, Luis A. Jurado, 50-1)
- Strike Up the Band (Leandro Gonçalves, Michael J. Maker, 5-1)
- Surgical Strike (Orlando Mojica, Ben Colebrook, 5-1)
- Torrontes (Sophie Doyle, Kellyn Gorder, 8-1)
- Whatawonderflworld (Malcolm Franklin, Mark E. Casse, 7-2)
- Riding in the Wind (Juan Vargas, Jose L. Lopez, 30-1)
- Brerry (Jack Gilligan, Eoin G. Harty, 8-1)
Scattered Cash and Lemondrop Bold are listed also eligible.
The 34th running of the Battaglia Memorial is the sixth of Saturday’s 10 races. First post is 6:15 p.m.