A dozen will line up in Friday night’s $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park with 17 Road to the Kentucky Derby points up for grabs.
The Mark Casse trained Gretsky the Great is the 3-1 morning line favorite and draws the rail. The colt makes his first start since running sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last November.
The race serves up 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into this spring’s Kentucky Derby and is a prep for the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on March 27. That race will offer 100-40-20-10 Derby points this year.
The race is named after the former general manager of the track. His son Mike was the long time race announcer at Turfway Park and analysist at NBC.
The Battaglia is one of three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races this week. On Saturday the twice postponed $750,000 Southwest (G3) will finally be run with 10-4-2-1 Derby points at stake.
The race marks the return of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Essential Quality, who makes his much anticipated three-year-old debut for trainer Brad Cox. The colt is currently the second choice in early Kentucky Derby future wagering at BUSR at 12-1. Life Is Good is the current betting favorite at 10-1.
The $300,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) will be contested at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. That race is worth 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers.
Let’s head out to Turfway Park for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Turfway Park Race 5 The John Battaglia Memorial (Post time 8: 16 ET)
6 Pico d’Oro 8-1
1 Gretzky the Great 3-1
4 Like the King 7-2
3 Twirling Mamba 10-1
The Bill Morey trainee is back on the fake stuff after a good effort in the seven furlong Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct last out. The colt tracked thee early pace while four wide on a day the outer paths were good and battled on gamely in a close up third, beaten a half length as the beaten chalk. Two back over the main track here at six furlongs the colt prompted the early pace and drew clear late to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in his lone start on the Tapeta. He is a stakes winner on dirt, taking the Juvenile at Ellis Park last August going seven furlongs in his third career start. The $255,000 Ocala purchase has plenty of pedigree to handle the distance, by Curlin out of a Bernardini mare, her first foal to race. The barn is 35% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route. The 8-1 morning line looks more than fair on this guy.
Gretsky the Great
This colt makes his three-year-old debut here for the Mark Casse barn. The colt made his last start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) where he was sent off at 7-1. Breaking from a tough post he prompted the early pace and weakened to finish sixth. He won the Summer (G1) on turf at Woodbine two back. His lone start on Tapeta came in his maiden breaker at Woodbine in his second career start going six furlongs in a race washed off the grass. He took the field gate to wire and drew clear to win by 4 ¼ lengths. The colt has prepped in Florida at Payson Park for5 a trainer that is 13% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff. The colt looks like a logical threat here, but his price is going to be on the light side.
Like the King
The Wesley Ward trainee made his first start over the Tapeta surface last out a winning one, taking Alw-1 optional claimer gate to wire and earning a career top speed fig. The colt was able to set soft fractions against a suspect group. Three have come out of that race to run back and they have finished third, fifth and seventh. He worked several times over the main track here since his last outing and then shows a couple of drills over at Keeneland for his return off a 2 ½ month break. The colt is going to part of a faster pace early here but looks as if he still may have some upside. Ward won this race last year with Invader who was coming off a maiden win.
WIN: Pico d’Oro to win at 9-2 or better.
EXACTA: 6 / 1,3,4,8 and 1,6 / 1,4,6