A year ago few could have guessed that the colt who crossed the wire fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park would go on to post one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby (G1) history two months later.
The odds are similarly long that lightning will strike again so soon, but a full gate of three-year-olds will nonetheless attempt to follow part of Rich Strike’s path toward Churchill Downs when taking in the $150,000 Battaglia on Saturday night. The 1 1/16-mile event on Tapeta will offer Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 20-8-6-4-2 to the respective top five finishers.
Among the Triple Crown nominees in the field currently eligible to accrue qualifying points is Gilmore, a recent arrival to the Brendan Walsh barn. Previously trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Twirling Candy enters off a second-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, which also conducts racing on a Tapeta surface.
Gilmore will break from post 3, in between Aristocracy and Scoobie Quando. Although not currently a Triple Crown nominee, Aristocracy is 2-for-2 for trainer Brad Cox, including an allowance win over a mile at Turfway on Jan. 1. Scoobie Quando, who made a winning debut in the Jan. 7 Turfway Prevue S. over 6 1/2 furlongs, finished second in his one-mile allowance prep three weeks ago.
Another Brad Cox trainee, American Speed, enters off a second-place finish in the one-mile Leonatus S. at Turfway on Jan. 21. Local allowance winner Bromley looks to rebound from a modest fifth-place run in the Lecomte (G3), while Woodbine graduate Moon Landing remains with upside following a fourth-place effort in a turf allowance at Gulfstream in mid-January.
Three-year-old fillies will have their chance to earn some Kentucky Oaks (G1) points in the $150,000 Cincinnati Trophy over one mile. Fun and Feisty is the most accomplished entrant to date, having taken the Pocahontas (G3) in September, but Saturday’s race will mark her debut over a synthetic surface.
B G Warrior stretches out after upsetting the 6 1/2-furlong Valdale S. over Tammy Tap Tap Tap and Jill Jitterbug, while Botanical and Bulsara both own allowance victories over the track and distance.
The Oaks point distribution in the Cincinnati Trophy will also be on a 20-8-6-4-2 basis.