"He ran a great race, but was second best today," Johnson said. "The Spiral is what counts. The distance (1 1/8 miles) shouldn't be a problem. He's been facing a tough, proven campaigner and he's getting closer every time." (Chart, Equibase)
The results of Saturday's $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park reaffirmed the state of the 3-year-old division in Kentucky this winter. That is, not much separates division leader Request for Parole from Perfect Drift, and there is a sizeable gap back to the next horse on the list. The race for 3-year-olds is the final local prep for the $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes on March 23.Perfect Drift and Request for Parole dueled through the Turfway Park stretch Saturday, with the latter gutting it out in the final strides to win the Battaglia Memorial by a nose. Thunder On Land finished third, 13 3/4 lengths behind Perfect Drift. Those three also finished 1-2-3 in last month's WEBN Frog Stakes, with Perfect Drift finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind Request for Parole and 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Thunder On Land.Entrymate Thunder On Land set the early pace, while Request for Parole settled into third along the rail. Jockey Brian Peck took Request for Parole to the outside going into the turn for home and overtook the frontrunners as Perfect Drift came through on the rail to challenge. On the sloppy track, Jeri and Sam Knighton's Request for Parole completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.08 to earn the $62,600 winners' share of the purse. As the 7-10 favorite with coupled stablemate Thunder On Land, Request for Parole (Judge T C--Madison's Quest, by Deputy Minister) paid $3.40 for the win and topped a $5.80 exacta."This colt does just enough to win," Peck said. "He made the lead, and when I called on him he opened up. He's smart enough that if anyone catches him, he finds another gear."Benny the Hawk finished fourth, a neck behind Thunder On Land. Sneaker Mike and Private Horde finished on even terms for fifth and due to the coupling of Request for Parole and Thunder On Land both those horses completed the fourth spot in the superfecta. Laffit and Piston completed the order of finish.The win marks Request for Parole's fourth in nine starts, with total winnings of $291,212. Margolis said his next start will be in the Spiral Stakes. Perfect Drift also is headed for the Spiral Stakes, trainer Murray Johnson said.