’s regally-bred Battle Plan
invaded from his South Florida base to score a
front-running 1 ½-length victory over General Quarters
in his stakes
debut, Saturday’s Grade II, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds Race
Course & Slots.
Battle Plan ran 1 1/8 miles over a “fast” main track in
1:49.33. Jockey Javier Castellano rode the winner for trainer Todd
Pletcher. Assistant trainer Mike Dilger saddled Battle Plan in
Battle Plan is a 5-year-old son by 2003 former champions Empire
Maker, the 2003 Belmont Stakes winner, and Flanders, the 1994
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champ who was euthanized in mid-February
following a paddock accident at John Magnier and partners’ Ashford
Stud near Versailles,
Battle Plan returned $5.20, $3.40 and $2.60 as the 8-5
favorite in the field of 10 older horses.
Battle Plan, who broke from post 9 in the field of 10, went
four-wide early and took command from longshot Big Polk a Dot before he
entered the backstretch run. He galloped along on the front through fractions
of :23.65, :47.11, 1:11.73 and 1:36.51.
General Quarters, sent postward as the 5-1 fourth betting
choice, returned $5.60 and $4. Southern
California invader Awesome Gem was another 2 ½
length back in third and paid $4.
Louisiana-bred Star Guitar, Giant Oak, Stones
Stonehouse, Tone It Down, Hold Me Back and Big Polk a Dot
completed the order of finish.
Battle Plan banked $180,000 for the victory, which jumped
his earnings to $246,864. It was his fourth win in five starts. Following a bad
defeat in his career debut in late 2008, Battle Plan has rattled off four
victories in a row. He entered the New Orleans Handicap off a five-length romp
in an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream
on Feb. 18.