Horse Racing

2024 John Battaglia Memorial Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

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numberFire Racing
2024 John Battaglia Memorial Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

One of the newest stops of the Kentucky Derby prep season, the John Battaglia Memorial, was added to the series of points races in 2021. However, the race is nothing new: it has existed since 1982, and has long been the local prep to Turfway’s signature sophomore race, the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).

The John Battaglia Memorial offers a $150,000 purse and 20-10-6-4-2 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. This means the winner does not get an automatic trip to Louisville in May, but does get put in a good place if they can run well in one or two other preps. The race covers 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta, and it drew an overflow field: 12 in the main field, plus a pair of also-eligible entrants who need defections to get into the starting gate.

Though no recent winner of the Battaglia has yet made an impact in the Kentucky Derby, recent winners have included Grade 2 turf winners Tiz the Bomb (2022) and Somelikeithotbrown (2019), and Grade 3 turf winner Surgical Strike (2016).

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes 2024 Information

  • Race Date: Saturday, March 2, 2024
  • Track: Turfway Park
  • Post Time: 8:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Distance: 1 1/16 miles
  • Age/Sex: three-year-olds
  • Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
  • Where to Bet: and FanDuel Racing

John Battaglia Memorial Odds

These are the entrants for the 2024 John Battaglia Memorial, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds.

ML Odds
1Gettysburg AddressBrad CoxGerardo Corrales6-1
2Ode to BaliusConcepcion TorresSonny Leon30-1
3Mr. FavershamStephen LysterOrlando Mojica30-1
4Bolt at MidnightMick RuisMartin Garcia4-1
5FidgetBrad CoxFernando de la Cruz15-1
6Epic RideJohn EnnisAdam Beschizza5-2
7Blue Eyed GeorgeMichael McCarthyLuan Machado6-1
View Full Table

John Battaglia Memorial Prep Results

Four horses in the John Battaglia Memorial come out of stakes races. Three come out of the Leonatus, the local prep for this race. Epic Ride disputed the early pace and opened up to win by four lengths over Blue Eyed George, who was in range but could not keep pace late. Good Bali was third, another 1 ¾ lengths back after a similar trip where he was in range and flattened out. The only other runner who comes out of a stakes race is Fidget, who was most recently ninth in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn.

Three in the main field come out of allowance-optional claiming races. Mission Ready won going a mile at Turfway on January 18, and Mugatu was third in a similar race over the same course on February 10. Gettysburg Address was fourth in a dirt mile allowance on January 28 at Oaklawn; that race’s winner, Northern Flame, was third in the Rebel.

The other five runners in the Battaglia come out of maiden wins. Bolt at Midnight and Encino graduated over two-turn trips on the Turfway Tapeta. Break Out graduated on the Gulfstream Park grass, while Ode to Balius makes his first start since breaking his maiden on the Ellis dirt last August. Mr. Faversham broke his maiden for a $50,000 tag at Turfway on February 15, and makes his first start off the claim.

First also-eligible Karlwithanarl comes out of a stalk-and-pounce win in a $50,000 starter allowance at Turfway on February 2. Katheeb, who has second preference on the reserve list, was most recently ninth in an allowance-optional claimer on the Gulfstream lawn.

John Battaglia Memorial Contenders

These are the contenders in the 2024 John Battaglia Memorial, organized by post position:

Gettysburg Address: He hasn’t won since a debut maiden sprint win at Ellis, but has been keeping solid company since: he finished fourth in a pair of Kentucky Derby points races and then finished fourth in an allowance where the winner came back to be third in the Rebel. If he can rediscover his tactical speed, that will help, though the rail in such a large field will not.

Ode to Balius: It is difficult to know what we will see with this son of American Freedom. To his credit, he has shown tactical speed and won over a two-turn trip last out. However, that was last August on the Ellis dirt, and he beat a field of horses washed off the turf. His turf debut was good enough to suggest some possibility on Tapeta, but make sure to get a look in the paddock or post parade to see how he has developed.

Mr. Faversham: He improved when switching to the Tapeta at Turfway this winter, though he needed a drop to the claiming level in order to shed his maiden label. It is a positive that he was able to rally into an achingly slow pace in his maiden-breaker last out, but these are better horses, and all of his outings have come back comparably slow.

Bolt at Midnight: He needed five starts to get off the mark, but he moved forward on the switch to Tapeta, finished only a neck beaten from just off the pace two back, and graduated on the front end last out. In a race with surprisingly little speed for such a big field, that looks like an asset, though he’ll have to make sure he doesn’t let Epic Ride slip too far ahead.

Fidget: A visit to the Derby trail proved too much for Fidget in the Smarty Jones, and now he drops in class and tries Tapeta. With wins on both turf and dirt, he has a shot to take to the footing. And, he does his best work on or near the lead: a positive, since it appears a forward trip will get a good run of things against this group.

Epic Ride: He looked good in maiden sprints at Turfway and stepped up to a mile to win the Leonatus with authority. He keeps Adam Beschizza in the irons from those outings, and he shapes as the speed of the speed in this race. Add to it the fact that he’s bred to improve with more distance and age, and he has both form and upside.

Blue Eyed George: He returned from a layoff to finish second in the Leonatus, his first try on Tapeta. He has upside to improve second off the layoff, and he is already a winner at 1 1/16 miles on grass at Keeneland last fall. If he can work a trip more like he did at Keeneland, from closer to the pace than he was in the Leonatus, he should be one of the legitimate threats in the lane.

Break Out: It took him five tries and a switch to the lawn to break his maiden. It’s worth noting that he woke up on a slight cutback in distance: he flattened late two back in a maiden race at 1 1/16 miles on the Gulfstream Tapeta, and will need to do better in order to avoid flattening out against these winners.

Mission Ready: He is a well-proven two-turn horse: six of his seven starts have come over two-turn trips, and the wins came in a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden and a one-mile allowance at Turfway. The problem he may run into is running style: he is a confirmed closer. His late pace is strong, but he will need someone to get surprisingly aggressive up front to get a better setup than good speed like Epic Ride.

Good Bali: One-for-six in his career, he graduated at a mile on the Ellis lawn last summer. His subsequent four starts against winners had not been as good, though he shows a little bit better form when he can get closer to the pace than when he has to close from farther off. The question is whether he can get that sort of trip here, as there isn’t a lot of speed, but he has yet to prove he is as fast early as his truly speed-oriented foes here.

Mugatu: With nine starts, he is the most experienced horse in this field. However, he has yet to get over the line in four starts against winners. His form is best on synthetic, and he has hit the board in allowances in his last two starts, but both of those were his only two outings on Lasix, and now he has to take that way. That raises some questions, especially since his synthetic-track, Lasix-free maiden win came back slow.

Encino: He led at every call when breaking his maiden last out, but rallied from last to second on debut, proving some versatility. The far-outside gate is not a positive, but he is versatile, proven at the distance, and comes from a barn that excels with last-out maiden winners. In short, he is a mixed bag: he has the upside, but also may get overbet because of Brad Cox.

Karlwithanarl: He needs one scratch to get into the main field. He has figured it out in his last two starts, rattling off a pair of local wins, but those came in a $15,000 maiden claimer and then a $50,000 starter allowance. He needs another significant step up to hold his own with these stakes horses, and would have to do so from a difficult gate.

Katheeb: He led at every call when breaking his maiden at a mile over the local course on December 6. He came up empty in a turf race at Gulfstream after that, however. Perhaps he is just better on Tapeta than on grass. Perhaps he needs the lead to find his best. In short, he has upside and early speed, but even if he draws in the post, he may be difficult to overcome.

John Battaglia Memorial Past Winners Past Performances

Winners of the John Battaglia Memorial come from many places; there is no set path to winning this race. Four of the last ten winners come out of graded stakes, though only two of them hit the board. Somelikeithotbrown (2019) made his first start since running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Congruent (2023) came out of a third-place run in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) on the Gulfstream lawn, Tiz the Bomb (2022) was seventh in the Holy Bull (G3), and Royal Son (2015) was seventh in the Sam F. Davis (G3). One other recent winner came out of an ungraded stake: Surgical Strike (2016) has most recently run third in the WEBN, a local prep stakes at Turfway.

Four of the other five winners from the last ten years came out of allowance company, and this is when it becomes a little more important to look for winners. Three out of those four horses coming out of allowances won those last races: Hush of a Storm (2021) at Turfway, It’s Your Nickel (2017) on the Fair Grounds dirt, and Solitary Ranger (2014) on the Fair Grounds lawn. Upset winner Magicalmeister (2018) came out of a third-place run in an allowance at Turfway.

Only one winner in the last ten years has come out of a maiden race. Invader (2020) won this race in his first attempt against winners, after graduating against special weight foes at Turfway.

John Battaglia Memorial Undercard

The John Battaglia Memorial is the sixth of nine races on Saturday’s card at Turfway, and is the only stakes on the card. However, there are big and competitive fields all day long on the Turfway card. There are also other Road to the Kentucky Derby races on Saturday including the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita, and the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.

With so much big racing going on from coast to coast, make sure to watch all day on FanDuel TV and make your bets at FanDuel and TVG!

Turfway Park History

The track we know today as Turfway Park began its life as Latonia Race Course in 1959. It took that name from another track, also called Latonia, that had existed from 1883 until 1939, just ten miles away. When the race was sold to a new ownership group led by Jerry Carroll, the track’s name changed to its current one, Turfway Park.

The race now called the John Battaglia Memorial dates back to 1972, when the track was still called Latonia. General manager John Battaglia, now the namesake of the other Kentucky Derby points race at Turfway, created a race called the Spiral Stakes. It was intended as a prep where promising three-year-olds could then “spiral” up to the Blue Grass and then the Kentucky Derby.

Since that beginning, the race has been known by several names: the Spiral, the Jim Beam Stakes, the Stakes, and the Lane’s End Stakes. In 2018, it took its current cheeky name: the John Battaglia Memorial, named for its current sponsor, a midwestern steakhouse chain named after its flamboyant founder. Despite this litany of names, one thing has remained the same: this race is the centerpiece of the Turfway Park meet!

John Battaglia Memorial FAQ

Q: When is the John Battaglia Memorial?

A: The 2024 John Battaglia Memorial takes place Saturday, March 2, at 8:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. It is the sixth of nine races on the card.

Q: Where is the John Battaglia Memorial?

A: It takes place at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky.

Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the John Battaglia Memorial?

A: Kenny McPeek leads all trainers with three victories in the John Battaglia Memorial. He is still active, but does not run any horses in 2024. All of the trainers entered this year are seeking their first victory.

Q: Who is the favorite for the 2024 John Battaglia Memorial?

A: Off his sharp victory in the Leonatus, the local prep, Epic Ride is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the John Battaglia Memorial. However, don’t be surprised to see heavy action on Brad Cox trainee Encino (9-2 morning line) or Mick Ruis trainee Bolt at Midnight (4-1 morning line).

Q: Who is the best John Battaglia Memorial jockey?

A: No jockey has won the John Battaglia Memorial more than twice. The two-time winners include Albin Jimenez, Willie Martinez, Michael McDowell, John McKee, Orlando Mojica, Brian Peck, Rodney Prescott, and Charles Woods. Mojica, whose most recent win came in 2016 with Surgical Strike, rides Mr. Faversham in 2024.

Q: Who won the 2023 John Battaglia Memorial?

A: Congruent won the 2023 John Battaglia Memorial for trainer Antonio Sano and jockey Sonny Leon. Leon rides Ode to Balius for trainer Concepcion Torres this year, though Sano does not enter a runner.

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