St Elias Stable’s Battalion Runner, a 3-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song, won impressively for the second consecutive time at the 2016-17 Gulfstream Park Championship Meet when he captured Friday’s featured eighth race.
It was an effort that pleased the colt’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, who indicated Battalion Runner will hit the Kentucky Derby prep trail for his next start.
Battalion Runner, ridden by John Velazquez, edged away from pacesetter Beasley in the stretch to post a 1 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race. Beasley, who was very game in defeat, finished 7 3/4 lengths clear of the third-place finisher, Painter’s Rags.
The Kentucky-bred Battalion Runner, who was acquired at auction for $ 700,000 as a yearling, was the 1-5 favorite in the seven-horse field of 3-year-olds.
In his second career start, Battalion Runner turned heads by winning a Dec. 31 maiden race at Gulfstream Park by 8 3/4 lengths.
In Friday’s allowance optional claimer, the 4-1 Beasley carved out comfortable fractions of :24.21, :48.28, and 1:12.49, while Battalion Runner tracked him in second position. Around the turn, Battalion Runner surged to the lead, but Beasley, who was ridden by Jose Ortiz, kept on running determinedly on the inside, right down to the wire.
The final time was 1:43.37 on a track labeled as fast. Battalion Runner returned $ 2.40 for a $ 2 win bet.
“I thought it was a good effort — first time around two turns and second start off of a long layoff,” Pletcher said. “I think we got what we wanted. The time seems solid. They kind of got into a steady rhythm all the way around there. It looked like the first two were pretty well clear of the field.”
Pletcher said the battle his horse engaged in with Beasley through the lane was a good education for his colt, who had wired the field in his maiden victory at seven furlongs. In his career debut, Battalion Runner finished second in a maiden special weight run at Belmont Park in June.
“He had to fight a horse who made a comfortable lead and tried to put him away and got into a little bit of a battle down the lane,” Pletcher said. “He didn’t get any dirt in his face or those other things, but I thought it was a positive experience for him.”
Pletcher said all 3-year-old stakes options will be considered for Battalion Runner, including the $ 400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park March 4.
“I think everything is in play,” he said. “Part of the reason we ran here was because it was more of a methodical step and made sense, and by running this weekend it kind of left everything in play.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2017 Paulick Report.