Lloyd Madison Farms' favored Silver Minister drew away from the field to post an impressive victory over a strong group of invaders in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial for 3-year-olds Saturday, his fourth consecutive victory at Turfway Park.
The Kentucky-bred Silver Deputy
dark bay gelding romped home by 2 3/4 lengths over Little Matth Man, who closed strongly to overtake White Mountain Boy by a length for second. The winning time for the 1 1/16-mile test was 1:44 3/5 on a fast track.
Silver Minister, who previously won the Jan. 3 Turfway Preview Stakes and the Feb. 7 WEBN Stakes at the Kentucky track, becomes the overwhelming local hope for the Lane's End Stakes on March 20.
Ridden by Turfway's leading jockey Rafael Bejarano for trainer Gregory Foley, Silver Minister seized the lead on the final turn, dueled with White Mountain Boy in the upper stretch and pulled away while urged home by Bejarano, who won his fourth race on the Turfway card. Bejarano ended the day with six victories, the thid time he's accomplished the trick at Turfway this year.
Foley said he's hoping for a little luck this year. Last year he also trained Champali, owned by Lloyd Madison Farms, to wins in the Turfway Prevue, the WEBN, and the Battaglia before seeing him finish third in the Lane's End and sit out the Triple Crown races. "He (Silver Minister) seems to be coming into it perfectly," Foley said.
Silver Minister, who carried 121 pounds, was never far off the pace set by Peter the Rock, who covered the opening quarter-mile in :23 1/5 and the half in :46 4/5 before giving way on the far turn. Silver Minister and White Mountain Boy dueled six furlongs in 1:11 1/5 and the mile in 1:37 2/5.
Little Matth Man, who won the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 7, got into gear late but never threatened to the winner. White Mountain Boy, another shipper, won the Goss L. Stryker for Maryland breds at Laurel Park on the same day. A third contender who shipped in for the Battaglia, Risky Trick, finished ninth.
Silver Minister, who won for the fourth time in six lifetime starts, was coming off a 5 1/4-length triumph in the one-mile WEBN on a track listed as good. It was his first start around two turns. He earned $62,000 for the victory.
"This horse is versatile and he looked in good shape the whole time," said owner Rob Lloyd, a partner in Lloyd Madison Farms LLC. "He was right there stalking the whole time, but I was looking at the times and they were right in line with what I thought he could do. They actually looked a little better than last time [in the WEBN], since this race was a little longer. This is what you get into it [ownership] for, that's what you hope for, and we're just enjoying this one."
Silver Minister paid $6.40, $4.20 and $3.20. Little Matth Man returned $6.40 and $4.40. White Mountain Boy's show was $3.40. The $2 exacta was worth $47.80