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John Battaglia Stakes 2024 | Turfway Park Picks [Kentucky Derby]
Epic Ride (Coady Photography)

John Battaglia Stakes 2024 | Turfway Park Picks [Kentucky Derby]

Aaron previews the 2024 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes from Turfway Park, then gives his top picks from this Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race.

Can Epic Ride keep his local hot streak alive while stretching out in distance? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

The Road to the Kentucky Derby prep season continues on Saturday at Turfway Park when Welch Racing’s Epic Ride headlines an oversubscribed field of 14 3-year-olds that were entered in the 42nd running of the $150,000 John Battaglia Memorial.

The John Battaglia Memorial, named in honor of the longtime General Manager of Latonia Race Track and Turfway Park, will go as Race 6 at 8:25 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 5:55 p.m.

Run at 1 1/16 miles, the John Battaglia Memorial will award the Top 5 finishers qualifying points on a 20-10-6-4-2 towards a spot in the starting gate for the $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I).

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Epic Ride has been impressive in his young three-race career at Turfway Park where he won last month’s Leonatus Stakes by four lengths, the local prep for the John Battaglia Memorial.

A son of Blame, Epic Ride just missed winning his career debut when he made a late surge up the rail and lost by a neck to Smokey Smokey. At second asking, Epic Ride was much the best winning by five lengths against 11 rivals in a maiden special weight contest.

Jockey Adam Beschizza, who’s been aboard Epic Ride for all three of his starts, will once again have the call in the John Battaglia Memorial and break from post No. 6

Among Epic Ride’s rivals that entered the John Battaglia Memorial include a three-plied battle from top trainer Brad Cox’s stable – Encino, Fidget and Gettysburg Address.

Godolphin’s homebred Encino, who was supplemented for this race, recently won a maiden special weight contest at Turfway Park. Jockey Axel Concepcion will pilot Encino from post 12.

His stablemates, WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s Smarty Jones fourth-place finisher Gettysburg Address along with Calumet Farm’s allowance winner Fidget, will break from posts 1 and 5, respectively. Jockey Gerardo Corrales has the call on Gettysburg Address while Fidget will be ridden by Fernando De La Cruz.

Another breakthrough maiden special weight winner that is entered in the John Battaglia Memorial is Ruis Racing’s Bolt At Midnight. Trained by his owner Mick Ruis Sr., Bolt at Midnight earned a stout 92 Brisnet Speed Rating when he broke his maiden three weeks ago at Turfway Park in front-running fashion.

A son of the former Ruis-trained Bolt d’Oro, Bolt At Midnight will be ridden by Martin Garcia from post 4.

Here is the complete field for the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park from the rail out (with jockey and trainer):

  1. Gettysburg Address (Corrales, Cox)
  2. Ode to Balius (Sonny Leon, Concepcion Torres)
  3. Mr. Faversham (Orlando Mojica, Stephen Lyster)
  4. Bolt At Midnight (Garcia, Ruis)
  5. Fidget (De La Cruz, Cox)
  6. Epic Ride (Beschizza, Ennis)
  7. Blue Eyed George (Luan Machado, Michael McCarthy)
  8. Break Out (Tyler Conner, Saffie Joseph Jr.)
  9. Mission Ready (Gavin Ashton, Ed Fernandez)
  10. Good Bali (Colby Hernandez, Rusty Arnold)
  11. Mugatu (Joe Talamo, Jeff Engler)
  12. Encino (Concepcion, Cox)
  13. Karlwithanarl (Concepcion, Robert Medina) Also-Eligible
  14. Katheeb (Declan Cannon, Brendan Walsh) Also-Eligible

The John Battaglia Memorial is the first of two races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby at Turfway Park. The $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) is set for Saturday, March 23.