Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm’s Battle of Midway, third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, returned to the races on Saturday at Santa Anita in fine style, winning the G3 Affirmed Stakes by nearly four lengths over B Squared. The sophomore son of Smart Strike, ridden by Flavien Prat for Jerry Hollendorfer, covered 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:43.25.
Breaking on top of a four-horse field, the heavily favored Battle of Midway had things his way for nearly the entire trip around The Great Race Place. Setting pedestrian fractions of :24.50, :48.88 and 1:12.86, Battle of Midway maintained a one-length lead over his three rivals until mid-way through the far turn, when B Squared tried to challenge him.
“It’s easier to win (when going in :24 quarters),” Prat said. “We didn’t go super fast the first part. I think it’s better to run at a target and a good pace but we were comfortable on the lead and he did a great job.”
B Squared got within a neck of Battle of Midway under heavy urging, but Prat simply shook the reins at Battle of Midway and he sprinted away to win by a comfortable four lengths at the wire. B Squared held on for second over Term of Art.
“I think he’s showing that he’s coming into being a good horse and able to run against top competition,” Hollendorfer commented. “We want to look at (the Haskell). That’s the race that we’ve talked about. That doesn’t mean we’re absolutely going to do that (run in it). There are a few real tough horses that might go in that race, but we might run in there anyway.”
Bred in Kentucky by Thoro-Bred Stables, Battle of Midway was a $ 410,000 yearling purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale. Fox Hill Farm signed the ticket and owned the colt through his first four starts, including a runner-up finish in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, after which he was purchased by Don Alberto and WinStar. Hollendorfer maintained oversight on the colt, who has now won three of his six career starts, never finished off the board, and earned more than $ 550,000.
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