Magna Graduate captured the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, setting him up for the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) three weeks away.Ridden by Turfway's leading rider, Dean Sarvis, Magna Graduate broke first and then relaxed patiently behind the pacesetter, Ultimate, until the final turn. He pulled alongside the leader and then drew away to win by 3 3/4 lengths."He's a very smart colt," said Sarvis. "As soon as I asked him to go with that horse, he gave me another gear. He drew away with authority and actually had a little something left. He was very well prepared. He did everything right."Ultimate, who jumped to the Battaglia from a maiden special weight win at Gulfstream, was the bettors' favorite on the strength of that impressive eight-length win and the reputation of his trainer, Nick Zito. The colt had only Magna Graduate to contend with until about mid-stretch, when Pavo slipped by to take second by 1 1/2 lengths. Ultimate stayed on for third, finishing half a length in front of Malibu Moonshine.Elisabeth Alexander purchased Magna Graduate privately from Northern Kentucky attorney Burr Travis after the colt ran second to Greater Good in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway last September. "I watched him in the barn behind me," said trainer Patrick Byrne. "We watched him all last fall, and we thought he'd be a nice horse if he could be bought. We really liked his Kentucky Cup Race, which brought us back to this race because it's a steppingstone to the Lane's End. "He was very impressive in this race today. He's a nice colt. I think his best days are ahead of him. He's so immature mentally but he's still coming around. "Who knows about the Kentucky Derby? It's a dream for us. Who knows if we can get there. But the next step is the Lane's End."
Completing the order of finish in the John Battaglia Memorial were Cat Shaker, Interline, the filly Smart Voyager, Chirinda Forest and Western Bulldog. Sent off as second choice, Magna Graduate finished the 1 1/16-mile course in 1:43.94. He paid $8 for the win.(Chart, Equibase)