Photo: Four Footed Fotos
Harry’s Holiday obliterated the field in Turfway Park’s 96ROCK Stakes, the first local prep for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes, but he faces a tougher crowd Saturday when 11 line up for the second prep, the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.
Exactly one month ago Saturday, Harry’s Holiday cruised home in the 96ROCK Stakes to be eight lengths the best over 6-1/2 furlongs. That easy margin bodes well for his first attempt at two turns in the 1-1/16 mile Battaglia. Trained by Mike Maker, Harry’s Holiday was claimed by current co-owner Terry Raymond out of his debut race, a win at Churchill Downs in September. Two races later he added another win in an optional starter at Gulfstream. He came from off the pace in that race, and that versatility will work to his advantage when he breaks from the outside post in the Battaglia. Rodney Prescott picked up the mount on Harry’s Holiday on race day in the 96ROCK and retains it for the Battaglia.
Poker Player didn’t fare well in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita in his last start, but one month earlier he made a bold late run to take the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, a race taken off the turf. He broke his maiden in similar style in his second start, a mile on the turf at Kentucky Downs. He has been working steadily at Fair Grounds toward his return and could take advantage of likely speed duels in the Battaglia. Channing Hill comes in for the mount.
Solitary Ranger broke his maiden by 5-1/2 lengths in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity last September, a mile on Polytrack, but the speedster fared poorly in his next start and next step, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, also on Polytrack. Solitary Ranger was given three months off before coming back to win a mile optional allowance in January on yielding turf at Fair Grounds. The colt led all the way in that race, and his two recent works at Fair Grounds—best of 20 and 24, both at five furlongs—back up his penchant for speed. Florent Geroux comes in to ride.
Poker Player, owned by Gary and Mary West, and Solitary Ranger, owned by Susan Moulton, are both trained by Wayne Catalano and carry high weight of 124 pounds for the Battaglia.
Solitary Ranger likely won’t go unchallenged on the front end Saturday. While he breaks from post two, right next door in post three is Canzoni, who set the pace in the 1-1/16 mile OBS Championship Stakes at the Ocala Training Center in January before losing by a nose. If Canzoni resists the urge to duel, however, he could show the off-the-pace style that made him a debut winner in a maiden special on the Gulfstream turf, also at the Battaglia distance. Turfway’s leading rider, Albin Jimenez, has the mount for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Laddie Boy won a strong allowance race at Keeneland two starts back and next finished second to the highly regarded Tapiture in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on the Churchill dirt, both at 1-1/16 miles. He has been off since that runner-up finish in November and may need Saturday’s race, especially given his tendency to also go for the lead. Jesus Castanon returns to Turfway rides for trainer Chuck Peery.
The Battaglia field from the rail out: Poker Player; Solitary Ranger; Canzoni (118 pounds); Emmett Park (jockey Lori Wydick, 118); Red River Rising (Ramon Vazquez, 118); Laddie Boy (118); Kids Rule (Dean Sarvis, 118); General Jack, also trained by Maker (Dylan Davis, 122);Empower (Jeremy Rose, 118); Chester’s Park (Ben Creed, 118); and Harry’s Holiday (122).
The John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles, is the 10th of 11 races on Saturday’s card. First post is 1:10 p.m.