Mr. Prankster, unchallenged in his previous two starts at Turfway Park, will try for a sweep of the preps leading up to the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) when he faces off against five fellow 3-year-olds in the $75,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes March 3.
Trained and co-owned by Mike Maker, Mr. Pransker won the Jan. 7 Turfway Park Prevue and Feb. 4 WEBN Stakes by a combined 11 lengths and could be favored to repeat in the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia. The bay son of It's No Joke failed in his lone route try last year, but that was on dirt, not his preferred Polytrack surface. John McKee will keep the mount.
Mr. Pransker, who was also second in the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile Stakes last fall at Presque Isle Downs and has three wins from six career starts, will break from post 6. He has worked twice at Turfway since the WEBN, most recently clocking five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Feb. 25.
Mr. Prankster was bought by his co-owner, Tom Conway, for $40,000 at the OBS 2011 June 2-year-olds & horses of racing age sale. He was consigned by Kilbride Stables, agent. The colt was bred in Kentucky by Colby Fields, Greg Scherr, and Valorie Scherr, and is out of the Avenue of Flags mare Cremedelacramer.
Also returning from the WEBN is the runner-up, Phantom Fury, who was beaten 7 1/2 lengths in his stakes debut. The Michael Lauer trainee was a 10 3/4-length optional claiming winner Jan. 13 at Turfway, just two weeks after breaking his maiden by eight lengths. But he was no match for Mr. Prankster after setting the early pace.
Phantom Fury has worked just once since the WEBN, that coming on Feb. 27. He will be ridden by Rodney Prescott once again.
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Shipping up from Florida to make his first start on a synthetic surface is State of Play. Winner of the With Anticipation (gr. IIT) on the Saratoga turf last summer, the son of War Front ended his juvenile campaign by running 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. His 3-year-old season also got off to a disappointing start Feb. 4 when he finished seventh as one of the favorites in the Sam F. Davis (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs.
State of Play, trained by Graham Motion, worked once since the Sam Davis, a five-furlong move Feb. 25 at Tampa. Victor Lebron has been assigned to ride.
Mr. Prankster and State of Play will both carry 124 pounds, giving six pounds to the rest of the field.
Also shipping up from Florida is Dynamical, still a maiden after two starts at Gulfstream Park—one on turf, the other a 1 1/8-mile test on dirt. That latter effort came Feb. 4 when the son of Hard Spun was beaten a head. Trainer Mark Casse has assigned Luis Martinez Jr. to ride.
Posey Rose, a maiden winner at Turfway in his fourth try Feb. 4, and Ill Conceived, a Parx Racing shipper who was third in a listed stakes at Laurel Park in January, complete the lineup.
The Spiral Stakes will be run March 24.
$75,000 John Battaglia Memorial (Race 10, 5:31 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Dynamical (KY), J Martinez Jr., 118, M E Casse
2. Ill Conceived (PA), S Elliott, 118, J C Servis
3. Phantom Fury (KY), R A Prescott, 118, M E Lauer
4. State of Play (KY), V Lebron, 124, H G Motion
5. Posey Rose (KY), M Pedroza, 118, V D Coyle
6. Mr. Prankster (KY), J McKee, 124, M J Maker