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Battle of Midway Looks at Haskell After G3 Affirmed Stakes Win

ARCADIA, CA — Idle since running third in the Kentucky Derby, Jerry Hollendorfer’s heavily-favored Battle of Midway came back running on Saturday at Santa Anita, waltzing to a 4 1/4-length win in the Grade 3, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, he made every pole a winning one and got 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.25.

“We talked about being in front,” said Hollendorfer. “We thought we might end up being the speed, so I wasn’t surprised. I just told Prat to get on his way, and if somebody does something different, to adjust to it.

“I think he’s showing that he’s coming into being a good horse and able to run against top competition. We want to look at that race (the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30). That’s the race we’ve talked about. That doesn’t mean we’re absolutely going to do that…There are a few real tough horses that might go in that race, but we might run in there anyway.”

The overwhelming 1-9 favorite in a field of four sophomores, the Kentucky-bred colt by Smart Strike owned by Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm, LLC, he attracted a massive place pool of $245,647, which dwarfed the $124,007 that was bet to win on him.

“We didn’t go super-fast the first part,” said Prat, the meet’s current leading rider. “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. I had to make sure he was focused in the lane, which was great, actually, because that’s when he started running.

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“He should improve from this race. Jerry is one of the best trainers, so I’m sure he’ll improve off of this. I mean, physically and mentally, he’s improving every time.”

The lone California-bred in the field, Reddam Racing’s homebred B Squared sat second the entire trip and couldn’t get on terms with the winner turning for home. Off at 6-1 with Mario Gutierrez up, he finished 4 1/2 lengths in front of stablemate Term of Art.

“My horse ran huge,” said Gutierrez. “He tried very hard. Every time I tried to get close to the other horse (Battle of Midway), that horse responded, and he gradually got away from us.”

Battle of Midway returned $2.20 and $2.10, while B Squared brought back $2.40. There was no show betting.

Additional Race Quotes

Jockey Flavien Prat, Battle of Midway: “It’s easier to win (when going in :24 quarters.) 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.

“I had to make sure he was focused in the lane, which was great actually because that’s when he starting running.”

Santa Anita Park

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