Twinspired, impressive winner of Turfway Park's WEBN Stakes one month ago, returns in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes the night of March 5 against a field that includes California Derby victor Positive Response.
Nine 3-year-olds are entered in the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia, which is the ninth race on the Turfway program with a 9:22 p.m. EST post time. The Battaglia serves as the final local prep for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III), to be contested over Turfway's Polytrack March 26.
Twinspired defeated a 12-horse field in the WEBN as the 3-2 favorite Feb. 5, overcoming a wide run into the first turn to draw away in the stretch by 4 1/2 lengths with Jozbin Santana aboard.
The gray/roan son of Harlan's Holiday --Historical Drive, by El Prado, is trained by Mike Maker for Daniel Johnson's Alpha Stable, Harvey Diamond's Skychai Racing, and David Koenig and partners' Sand Dollar Stable.
Bred in Kentucky by John Jain, Lawrence Opas, and Frank Sinatra, Twinspired was purchased for $140,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last May.
Twinspired is two-for-two on Polytrack. He broke his maiden at first asking at Keeneland last October but had lost three in a row on dirt and turf prior to his comfortable WEBN victory. He drew the far outside post for the Battaglia and is to be ridden for the first time by Corey Lanerie while carrying co-top weight of 122 pounds.
Also in at 122 is Positive Response, shipping from Northern California for trainer William E. Morey following a third-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) Feb. 12. All five of Positive Response's prior races for Morey have come over the Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta racing surface, including a six-length win in the Gold Rush Stakes Dec. 11 and a 2 3/4-length tally in the California Derby Jan. 15.
He won three in a row after being stretched out to two turns last November until his defeat in the El Camino Real, in which he rallied mildly to be two lengths behind the victorious Silver Medallion at the wire.
Julien Couton, who has ridden the son of Pomeroy in his three previous starts, makes the trip to Kentucky for owners Morey, Saul Gevertz, Roger Newman, and Ray Pagano. Positive Response has won four of seven starts after beginning his career at Woodbine and has earned $163,681.
WinStar Farm's homebred Blue Laser, also carrying 122 pounds, makes his seasonal debut for trainer Mark Casse. The Bluegrass Cat colt has not been out since he was carried wide on the final turn and pulled up in the Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) in Louisiana Nov. 20. Winner of the Grey Stakes (Can-III) at 1 1/16 miles over Woodbine's Polytrack prior to that, he leads the field in earnings with $182,100.
R Fast Cat and Taptowne, separated by a head while finishing second and third, respectively, in the WEBN, are also back for the Battaglia. Maker trains the late-running R Fast Cat, another son of Bluegrass Cat, for Scarlet Stables. Clovertowne Farms's Taptowne, by Tapit , hails from the barn of Wayne Mogge.
Adulare showed little in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 12 but could be a threat for a piece here for trainer George Arnold II and Wind River Stables. The Flatter colt broke his maiden as an odds-on choice at Calder in January and ran third in three successive maiden special weight events in Kentucky last fall.
Admiral Perry, from the barn of Shug McGaughey, ran second to Uncle Mo when the champion 2-year-old to be broke his maiden last summer at Saratoga, and then fifth to To Honor and Serve before the Kentucky Derby prospect won a pair of grade II races in New York. The tough company must have done Admiral Perry some good, as he went on to break his maiden at Parx next out and began his 3-year-old season with an optional claiming win on turf Jan. 22 at Tampa Bay Downs.
$100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes (Race 9, 9:22 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Admiral Perry (KY), B Creed, 116, C R McGaughey III
2. Blue Laser (KY), J McKee, 122, M E Casse
3. Adulare (KY), I J Rosendo, 116, G R Arnold, II
4. Night Party (KY), F A Arguello Jr., 116, P Huffman
5. R Fast Cat (KY), V Lebron, 116, M J Maker
6. Positive Response (FL), J Couton, 122, W E Morey
7. Son of Posse (KY), R Mojica Jr., 116, R Vitiello
8. Taptowne (KY), R A Prescott, 116, W D Mogge
9. Twinspired (KY), C J Lanerie, 122, M J Maker