After a convincing victory in the February 11 WEBN, En Hanse has been installed as the slight 5-2 favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park. The 1/16-mile Polytrack race serves as a prelude to the track’s lone Kentucky Derby qualifier, the $500,000 Spiral (G3) on March 25.
En Hanse is now 2-for-2 locally, posting a 7 ½-length entry-level allowance tally in late December and a 3 ½-length decision last time. He led wire-to-wire in both 6-furlong starts and the gray son of Hansen will stretch back out to a two-turn distance on Saturday evening. He’s unplaced in two previous route attempts but those came early in his career while still a maiden.
Abel Lezcano retains the mount and En Hanse shows a recent 5-furlong bullet work on the Polytrack for Mike Maker, who trains five of the 13 entrants including an also-eligible.
Maker will send out 3-1 early second choice Hot Dad, who finished a neck back of subsequent Risen Star (G2) winner Girvin when third in the grassy Keith Gee Memorial at Fair Grounds on February 4. The Sidney’s Candy colt has made his last three outings on the turf at Fair Grounds, recording a sharp score over entry-level allowance foes two back, and Jack Gilligan takes over the reins.
Star Empire, one of two runners for Wesley Ward, will look to rebound after finishing second as the 1-2 WEBN favorite. Eased two starts back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the English-bred son of Foxwedge broke his maiden on a synthetic track at Presque Isle Downs and finished third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) on Polytrack. Arny Fontanez is listed to ride the 9-2 third choice.
Other runners of interest include It’s Your Nickel, who was elevated to first when opening 2017 in an entry-level Fair Grounds allowance and scratched from the Risen Star; and last-out winners Durango Dan, Gorgeous Kitten and Montu.
Brisnet.com has free Ultimate PPs for the Battaglia Memorial