JOHN BATTAGLIA PREVIEW

Following delays due to weather conditions at Turfway Park last week, the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes will now take place on Friday. It will run as Race 5 on the eight-race card and include a sizable field of 13 covering 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track.

Gretzky the Great Looks for Third Stakes Win

One of the leading entrants coming into the John Battaglia is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber’s Gretzky the Great. The Nyquist colt is the only Grade 1 winner among the field of 3-year-olds.

Trained by Mark E. Casse, the runner has a total of three victories and one second-place finish in five races. He has some of the highest purse earnings in the field, totaling $272,205.

Gretzky the Great debuted back on July 12 in a maiden special weight race at Woodbine, where he finished second. He then went on to win three straight outings, starting with another maiden special weight race on Aug. 2 at Woodbine.

The colt’s first stakes victory came in the Aug. 23 Soaring Free Stakes, which he followed up with his Grade 1 win in the Sept. 20 Summer Stakes, both taking place at Woodbine. In the latter, he registered a 93 Speed Figure as he beat Ready to Repeat and Dolder Grand.

Gretzky the Great will be making his first start since Nov. 6, when he finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf presented by Coolmore America (G1) at Keeneland. In that outing, he registered a career-high 95 Speed Figure.

He will be joined by jockey Gerardo Corrales as the pair break from post 1.

Pico d’Oro, Catman to Challenge

Two of Gretzky the Great’s biggest challenges in the John Battaglia will likely be Sandin Syndicate Stable’s Pico d’Oro and Catman, owned by Paradise Farm, David Staudacher, John Piehowics, Angelo Carlesimo, and Michael Maker.

Trained by William Morey, Pico d’Oro is coming off a third-place run in the Jan. 31 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes (Black Type) at Aqueduct. The Curlin colt is looking for his second stakes win, having scored the Aug. 9 Runhappy Juvenile Stakes (Black Type) at Ellis Park.

He followed that stakes win with a fifth-place run in the Sept. 5 Iroquois Stakes presented by Ford (G3) a month later at Churchill Downs.

He will break from post 6 under John McKee.

Trained by Michael Maker, Catman is still looking for his first stakes win. The Kitten’s Joy colt finished fifth last time out in the Jan. 31 Texas Turf Mile Stakes (Black Type) at Sam Houston.

His other notable performances came in the Nov. 28 Central Park Stakes (Black Type) at Aqueduct, where he finished fifth, and the Oct. 31 Awad Stakes (Black Type) at Belmont Park, where he took a disappointing eighth.

The runner’s only victory came in the Oct. 3 Laurel Futurity (Black Type) at Pimlico, where he outran Wootton Asset.

Catman will break from post 11 under Emmanuel Esquivel.

The entire order of the John Battaglia field in post position is Gretzky the Great, The Predicament, Twirling Mamba, Like the King, Kinetic Sky, Pico d’Oro, Hard Rye Guy, Hush of a Storm, Form Moultrie, Notable Exception, Catman, Warrior in Chief, and Bakwena.

Be sure to check Horse Racing Tote for all the latest news on the Kentucky Derby Prep Races and odds.

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