ARCADIA, Calif. (June 24, 2017)–Idle since running third in the Kentucky Derby, Jerry Hollendorfer’s heavily favored Battle of Midway came back running on Saturday at Santa Anita, as he waltzed to a 4 ¼ length win in the Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes. Ridden by Flavien Prat, he made every pole a winning one and got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:43.25.
“We talked about being in front,” said Hollendorfer. “We thought we might end up being the speed, so I wasn’t surprised. I just told Prat to get on his way and if somebody does something different, to adjust to it.
“I think he’s showing that he’s coming into being a good horse and able to run against top competition. We want to look at that race (Grade I, 1 1/8 miles Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30). That’s the race we’ve talked about. That doesn’t mean we’re absolutely going to do that…There are a few real tough horses that might go in that race, but we might run in there anyway.”
The overwhelming 1-9 favorite in a field of four sophomores, Battle of Midway, a Kentucky-bred colt by Smart Strike, paid $2.20 and $2.10 with no show wagering. Owned by Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm, LLC, he attracted a massive place pool of $245,647, which dwarfed the $124,007 that was bet to win on him.
“We didn’t go super-fast the first part,” said Prat, the meet’s current leading rider. “I think it’s better to run at a target and a good pace, but we were comfortable on the lead and he did a great job. I had to make sure he was focused in the lane, which was great actually because that’s when he started running.
“He should improve from this race. Jerry is one of the best trainers, so I’m sure he’ll improve off of this…I mean, physically and mentally, he’s improving every time.”
The lone California-bred in the field, Reddam Racing’s homebred B Squared sat second the entire trip and couldn’t get on terms with the winner turning for home. Off at 6-1 with Mario Gutierrez up, he paid $2.40 to place and finished 4 ½ lengths in front of stablemate Term of Art.
“My horse ran huge,” said Gutierrez. “He tried very hard. Every time I tried to get close to the other horse (Battle of Midway), that horse responded and he gradually got away from us.”
Fractions on the race, all set by the winner, were 24.50, 48.88, 1:12.86 and 1:36.73.