Battle of Midway continues comeback in Kelso
By Bob Ehalt
One of the added rewards for winning a Breeders’ Cup race can often be a lucrative stallion career.
Yet it doesn’t always turn out that way.
Take the case of Battle of Midway. He won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile a year ago at Del Mar, which set the stage for his retirement, followed by a supposedly prosperous life at stud.
Unfortunately, Battle of Midway proved to be a far more talented runner than sire. So the curtain quickly came down on his career as a stallion, and he was returned to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s stable to resume his racing career.
All of which brings us to Saturday’s $300,000 Kelso Handicap, where Battle of Midway, in just the second race since his comeback, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite and 123-pound weight in a Grade 2 one-mile race that promises to serve as a springboard to Churchill Downs on Nov. 3, where he will take aim at back-to-back BC Dirt Mile wins.
In his first race since his abbreviated career at stud, Battle of Midway was a distant second to California sensation Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes last month at Del Mar.
His main foe figures to be Sunny Ridge (3-1), who finished ninth in the Grade 1 Woodward after a wide trip but prior to that was an easy winner of the mile-and-a-sixteenth State Dinner Stakes at Belmont.
No Dozing (9-2) is also a key threat after finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Forego, a seven-furlong Saratoga stakes, in just his second start of 2018.
“I think he’ll be more efficient with a one-turn mile compared to seven-eighths. I’m much more comfortable going a mile with him, especially at Belmont,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said.
“In the Forego, when he was going up against very good sprinters, they don’t wait for you at the break. You need to break and be right there with them, and it didn’t happen, so we got too far back and had to come wide. That’s always difficult to overcome against good horses. In the Kelso, we’ll have a better chance to have a better trip.”
The seven-horse field also includes Timeline (8-1), Realm (10-1), Still Having Fun (8-1) and Patternrecognition (9-2).
Saturday’s card, which begins at 1:30 p.m., also features the $200,000 Noble Damsel, where the Chad Brown-trained Uni is a 7-5 favorite in her bid for a third straight win.