Handicapping Friday’s John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park
Friday’s $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial S. at Turfway Park has a few horses cross-entered to other races, but it remains competitive on paper. A dozen were entered for the stepping stone to the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on March 14, which serves as a Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying-points race.
Named for Turfway’s late general manager John Battaglia, who first envisioned a Kentucky Derby prep at the Florence, Kentucky venue, the 1 1/16-mile race has an ample supply of speed signed on.
#3 Artemus Eagle was too keen early and didn’t relax during his first start over the Polytrack in early December. He delivered a much-improved effort 3 1/2 weeks later, when he posted a one-length score over entry-level allowance foes.
The bay colt from the first crop of Wicked Strong settled into a good stalking position and edged closer on his own volition rounding the far turn. When jockey Martin Garcia asked in upper stretch, Artemus Eagle finished strongly to earn career-best Brisnet Speed (86) and Late Pace (97) ratings.
Artemus Eagle won’t face the stiffest competition Friday, and he’s eligible to receive the right trip. Jockey Rafael Hernandez, who was up for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker on 2019 Battaglia winner Somelikeithotbrown, has the mount.
Maker will also send out #7 Toma Todo, who exits a respectable second versus turf stakes foes in his first two-turn start. We'll include him in vertical exotics, along with #5 High Holy—who will stretch out to two turns off a striking, 10-length romp over entry-level allowance rivals at Turfway—and 8 Invader, who received a commendable 91 Brisnet Speed figure in a local allowance tally.
We'll also add #11 Bahama Channel, an appealing longshot contender (20-1 on the morning line), underneath. The Larry Demeritte trainee needed eight starts to break his maiden at Churchill Downs in November, and that win sparked a significant turnaround in form. The 3-year-old has delivered a pair of solid seconds against entry-level allowance foes at Turfway. His Brisnet Speed ratings have improved in the last three starts, and Bahama Channel owns good tactical speed.
Two races after the Battaglia, 11 sophomore fillies are entered for the $75,000 Cincinnati Trophy at 6 1/2 furlongs. #3 Rising Seas enters with a two-race win streak and enters off a nice allowance effort at Churchill Downs last time out, in which she turned back the runner-up in deep stretch to win by a half-length. We like her chances on the front end with jockey Corey Lanerie.
#7 Anna’s Fast isn’t easily dismissed. The lightly raced filly appears to have a touch of class for trainer Wesley Ward. She has won both of her U.S. starts by open lengths, including her last outing at Turfway on Dec. 26, following a six-month layoff.
Utilizing a $50 budget, Artemus Eagle will be a win bet. We'll key him in exacta part-wheels, and single him to begin a Pick 3. I will use "all" in the middle leg, and the two aforementioned fillies in the last.