Donegal Racing’s 23-1 longshot Vow to Wager was awarded the win in an eventful running of the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes Feb. 27 (VIDEO) at Turfway Park after Codoy was disqualified for interference at two different points during the race for 3-year-olds.
Turfway’s final prep for the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) March 27, the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia resembled bumper cars as much as it did horse racing when the field of eight turned for home. After the stewards took a long look at the action, they determined Codoy, who crossed the wire in front by three-quarters of a length under Sal Gonzalez Jr., was guilty of impeding Vow to Wager—both coming off the turn and in deep stretch. Rex Stokes, jockey of third-place finisher In the Paint, also lodged an objection against Codoy but that complaint was disallowed. Codoy was placed second.
Vow to Wager, a son of Broken Vow —Wager a Penny, by Valid Wager, won in his stakes debut for Dale Romans. He was ridden by John McKee.
The trouble started when the field was coming off the turn, as pacesetter Kera's Kitten was carried wide when Lucky Chuck rammed into the 13-10 favorite, causing others to his outside to also lose their paths. That trouble left a huge opening along the inside, and Codoy took advantage by sprinting through the gap.
But the Bernstein colt also lost his path and went wide while rounding the turn, making contact with Vow to Wager for the first time. Later, as they raced through the stretch, Codoy veered to the inside when Gonzalez lost his whip and caused Vow to Wager, who was between horses, to steady. That also forced Vow to Wager to make contact with In the Paint, who was racing along the rail. McKee shifted Vow to Wager to the outside of Codoy in the final yards while gaining ground, but it was too late.
The final time on the Polytrack was 1:48.94.
"Dale told me to put this horse in the race,” said McKee, "but I found myself squeezed back going into the first turn. I wanted to be closer to the pace, but it didn’t fall like that so I had to go to plan B and let my horse relax. And when I asked him on the second turn, Ben Creed’s horse (Lucky Chuck) floated the field out, and I ended up cutting the corner. Turning for home I had a lot of horse, and Sal’s horse came over and broke my momentum.”
Vow to Wager entered the Battaglia off a convincing 5 1/2-length maiden special weight win in his sophomore debut Jan. 31 at Turfway. The dark brown/bay colt was winless in three starts as a 2-year-old. A $90,000 Keeneland Spetember 2008 yearling sale purchase, Vow to Wager was bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Stables. He has now earned $74,024.
Sent off as the longest shot on the board, Vow to Wager paid $48.60, $17.80, and $8. The exacta (6-3) returned $247.20 and the trifecta (6-3-4) was $2,312.
Of Codoy being taken down, trainer Mark Hubley said: “He ran really good but of course I’m disappointed. It’s unfortunate there was an objection. It could have gone either way, but he could have impeded that horse. I do think he was the best horse in the race."
Slewzoom was fourth, followed by Fish, Pathoki, Lucky Chuck, and Kera's Kitten.