By Emily Shields
A field of 12 is set to go in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park on Friday night. Local post time is 8:12pm, and the race is one of two stakes on the Valentine’s Day card. The race serves as a stepping stone to the Jeff Ruby Stakes on March 14, which is a prep race for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.
Wesley Ward will start two, including Invader. The $500,000 son of War Front, out of a Galileo mare, broke his maiden here on December 4 by almost 13 lengths. That was his first start not on grass, where he was third once in four tries. Invader has had five works over the surface since the victory. Ward’s other starter is Hail to the Chief, who breaks from the rail. He was a maiden winner here by two lengths over a mile December 28. The son of Danza will be ridden by Joe Bravo.
High Holy is unbeaten on the course in two tries. The first was a maiden win by three lengths December 31, and then the son of Great Notion won a sprint allowance here by ten lengths. Darrin Miller trains, Alan Garcia will ride. This will be his first try past 6 ½ furlongs; the race is 1 1/16-miles.
Brad Cox will start Shake Some Action, a $300,000 son of Into Mischief. He broke his maiden on the grass at the Fair Grounds January 18, winning over Declared, who starts here as well. Shake Some Action is out of a Tiznow mare and gets Corey Lanerie aboard.
Declared is a maiden breaking from the outside. The son of Hard Spun is a gelding trained by Jack Sisterson. The loss behind Shake Some Action was his debut; he has since worked on the main track there in a good time. Sisterson also starts Truculent, a son of Raison d’Etat. He was sixth in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont in the fall, then broke his maiden on the main track at the Fair Grounds. It is likely one of these two runners will scratch.
My Man Flinstone broke his maiden here sprinting December 6. He has since gone seven furlongs in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and ran fifth for trainer Ken McPeek, who returns him to Kentucky for this. He was second in two maiden tries before his first win.
Mike Maker starts stakes placed Toma Todo. The son of English Channel broke his maiden sprinting on the grass first out at Churchill Downs, then ran third here over six furlongs in allowance company. He was second in the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston on Janauary 26 over this distance as a 13-1 shot.
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