A four-month layoff and an unfamiliar surface might have given Laity pause early on in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, but by the end he was zeroed in on the finish line, holding off a blazing late charge to win by half a length.It was the second 3-year-old stakes win of the hour for trainer Frank Brothers, who saw First Samurai's number moved up to first in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park on the disqualification of Corinthian. Laity made his first start as a 3-year-old Saturday and had not run since November. He shipped in from Florida for the John Battaglia and had not worked officially over Turfway's Polytrack surface."I was a little concerned about that coming in," said winning jockey Corey Lanerie, "and he might have been wondering what he was running on, but he liked it. Frankie did a great job getting him ready. The track can be tiring, but he was fit today and ready for it. "I inherited the lead in about the middle of the first turn and he was running real easy," Lanerie said. "Then on the backside, I don't know if he lost interest, but I really thought I was out of horse. About the half-mile pole, I had to pull the stick out and go to work on him and he responded from it."That response put Laity right back in the race as he sat just off the pace set by New Awakening. With Lanerie keeping him at the task, Laity got the lead with about half a furlong to go. New Awakening couldn't come again but looked to have second locked up when Pair of Kings came flying up on a long closing run that took him from last to second. New Awakenings finished half a length back in third, just a neck ahead of Malameeze in fourth. Completing the order of finish were Skeleton Crew, Temporary Saint, the 2-1 favorite Kilimanjaro, With a City, Trailing Twelve, Readily, Go Bucky Go, and Warrior Within.Following moderate fractions, Laity finished the race in 1:46.88. The bettors' fifth choice in the 12-horse field, he went off at 6-1 and paid $15.80 for the win.
Laity, whose last win came in the Miller Lite Cradle Stakes at River Downs last September, now has three wins from six career starts. The winner's share of $100,000 boosted his career earnings to $213,200. Claiborne Farm owns Laity. The John Battaglia Memorial is the last local prep for the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) on March 25.(Chart, Equibase)