Battle of Midway, Girvin set to Square Off in Oklahoma Derby

September 21, 2017 09:20am

While Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby is getting the majority of the ink this weekend, do not sleep on the following day's feature at Remington Park. The $400,000 Oklahoma Derby has attracted a field of eight, and the big two of the bunch are pretty big. The headliner of a ten-stakes race card on Sunday, the 29th running of the 9 furlong, Grade 3 affair will feature multiple stakes winners, Battle of Midway and Girvin.

Perhaps best known as the third-place finisher in the Kentucky DerbyBattle of Midway has won 4-of-8 in his career, all of which have come this year. The good looking son of Smart Strike is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, and has had a very consistent season. He's really run only one poor race, when he faded to sixth in the Grade 1 Haskell, which of course, was won by Girvin.

In his defense, Battle of Midway did not have the best of trips that day. Breaking poorly, he was rushed up on the rail to be a big part of a very contentious early pace. Eventually, that took the starch right out of the Don Alberto Racing and WinStar Farm charge, as he had little left for the stretch run.

Demonstrating none the worse for wear, Battle of Midway bounced back four weeks later to dominate a solid field in the Shared Belief Stakes. Perhaps his most impressive performance to date, the game runner-up of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby pointed himself as a real threat for November's Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile with this sublime performance.

While the credentials of Battle of Midway are strong, they aren't quite as accomplished as those of Girvin. The Grade 1 winner defeated a strong field in the million-dollar Haskell two starts back. His biggest win to date, it was the son Tale of Ekat's third graded stakes win of the season, having also accounted for the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, earlier in the year.

Unfortunately for Girvin he has failed to fire his best in two big races this year, finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby, and 11th in the Travers four weeks ago. Those efforts were uncharacteristically poor for a horse, who has run strongly in each of his other six races, and could be partially excused for the dark bay colt not liking either racing surface.

Just like Battle of Midway, Girvin has won 4-of-8 lifetime, and also could be pointed for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. While the California-based colt made his career debut in January, the Haskell winner raced for the first time in December. Unlike Battle of Midway, though, Girvin already has better than $1.5 million in the bank. Nearly half of that total came thanks to this thrilling victory at Monmouth Park.

If you are keeping score, this will be the third meeting between Girvin and Battle of Midway, with each horse finishing ahead of the other once. Neither had their 'A' game in the decision they lost to the other, so hopefully the Oklahoma Derby will play host to the best from both. If so, it should be a whale of a race.

While the top two will vie for favoritism, there are several other sophomores in here with credentials. The rest of the pack is led by Colonelsdarktemper, who was second in both the Matt Winn and the Indiana Derby, before the son of Colonel John broke through as the winner of the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby two starts back.

Others looking for their most important career victory on Sunday are: B Squared, who was second to Battle of Midway in the Grade 3 Affirmed in late June at Santa Anita; the lightly raced Gato Del Oro, also recently second to Battle of Midway, when he took the runner-up spot in Del Mar's Shared Belief; McCormick, runner-up in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby, from the barn of Ian Wilkes; Untrapped, who has finished in second or third in five graded stakes races in 2017; and Altito who looks to be the outsider of the field.


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Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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