Turfway Park’s $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial S. and $65,000 Cincinnati Trophy were added as points races, respectively, on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, and both proved popular by attracting overflow fields of 13 for Friday night’s renewals.
Worth points to the top four on a 10-4-2-1 scale, each stakes leads up to the track’s marquee races for three-year-olds on Mar. 27. The 1 1/16-mile Battaglia serves as a stepping stone for the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), and fillies could stretch out from the 6 1/2-furlong Cincinnati Trophy for the Bourbonette Oaks (G3).
Trainer Mark Casse figures to play a prominent role in the Friday features, but Brad Cox and Mike Maker are also in position to go for the stakes double.
Battaglia Memorial – Race 5 (8:16 p.m. ET)
Casse sends out the class of the field in Gretzky the Great, winner of the Summer (G1) at Woodbine and most recently sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The well-named son of Nyquist is proven on the Tapeta, however, having romped in a Woodbine maiden on the same synthetic surface. Gretzky the Great will break from the rail with hot-riding Gerardo Corrales.
Maker’s Catman, the 124-pound co-highweight with Gretzky the Great, has raced exclusively on turf so far. A 10-1 upsetter when breaking his maiden in the Laurel Futurity, the son of Kitten’s Joy has failed to place in his past three including the Jan. 30 Texas Turf Mile. Notable Exception has disappointed in both starts on the dirt, notably the American Pharoah (G1), but a return to synthetic could help the Jack Sisterson pupil who dominated his debut on Arlington’s Polytrack.
Cox’s representative, Kinetic Sky, just broke his maiden by three lengths in an off-the-turf route at Fair Grounds. Two back in New Orleans, the $450,000 Runhappy colt placed third to Proxy, eventual runner-up in both the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2). Warrior in Chief was last seen landing a Churchill Downs maiden in his first two-turn try for Ken McPeek.
Several have won at this track. Wesley Ward’s Like the King comes off a front-running allowance score over a mile. William Morey is double-handed with Ellis Juvenile victor Pico d’Oro, a closing third in the Jimmy Winkfield last out after his local sprint win, and Hush of a Storm, who beat fellow Turfway maiden winner Hard Rye Guy in a mile allowance. Twirling Mamba captured a sprint allowance, chased home by The Predicament, while Fort Moultrie just edged Bakwena (the Battaglia also-eligible) in a course-and-distance maiden.
Cincinnati Trophy – Race 7 (9:16 p.m. ET)
Casse entered a trio of fillies, led by Woodbine Cares heroine Dirty Dangle, who exits a ninth versus males in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). The daughter of Not This Time had won first out over the Woodbine Tapeta. Her stablemates are the Into Mischief filly Speeding, who just held on in a five-furlong Gulfstream Park turf maiden, and Pledge, a resounding Turfway maiden winner for Maker. The well-bred Candy Ride sophomore subsequently sold for $100,000 to DJ Stable and switched to Casse.
Maker counters with Gulfstream turf performer Phantom Vision. The sprint maiden winner reverts in trip following a troubled third in a 1 1/16-mile allowance. Rocket Reload, third to Dirty Dangle in the Woodbine Cares, was a recent recruit to the Cox barn and scored in an off-the-turf allowance at Fair Grounds.
Igloo, from the first crop of the versatile Mshawish, rolled by 7 1/4 lengths here in her Dec. 26 unveiling. Trained by Jonathan Thomas, the Eclipse Thoroughbreds runner merited the chart comment, “tons the best.”
The Michael Trombetta-trained Paradise Song, a Frosted half-sister to 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Spun to Run, was a close second as the 9-10 favorite in a Laurel allowance. Recent Aqueduct maiden romper Just Read It, by Constitution, ships in for Raymond Handal.
The rest have class concerns at this level – Wait for Nairobi, just awarded her track-and-trip maiden win via disqualification; Lichita, victorious for a $25,000 tag at Mahoning Valley in her latest; and maidens Delta Gamma Cats, Sheisthehero, and Devil’s Advocate (the also-eligible).