Separated by just a neck when last they met, Jerry Hollendorfer's Battle of Midway and Bob Baffert's Dabster will do battle yet again on opening day at Santa Anita this Wednesday, as they head a field of nine 3-year-olds and up at a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade II, $300,000 San Antonio Stakes.
Trainer John Sadler's Gift Box, a recent acquisition who has been idle since March 24 in New York, also figures prominently in the San Antonio, which will likely serve as a springboard for one or two horses into the Grade I, $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.
BATTLE OF MIDWAY
Owner: Don Alberto Stable & WinStar Farm, LLC
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
A winner of the 2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, this 4-year-old son of Smart Strike was retired to stud at the end of last year, but returned to training this spring after a failed run in the breeding shed. Winless in his first two starts this year, he rebounded with a rousing 4 ½ length score in the one mile Comma To The Top here on Oct. 28. Handled aggressively by Flavien Prat in the Grade III, 1 1/8 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 25, he made the early lead and was head and head for most of the trip, prevailing by a neck over a game Dabster. With a pair of recent wins under his belt, Hollendorfer is hoping to parlay a third consecutive win into a berth in the $9 million Pegasus Jan. 26 at a mile and one eighth.
Owner: Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Ultra game in defeat at the hands of Battle of Midway on Nov. 25, this 4-year-old colt by Curlin appears on the improve for Baffert and is poised to spring an upset if he can get on terms with the top choice out of the gate, as Dabster has been a horse who requires a good deal of early urging. With three wins, two seconds and a third from seven starts this year, Dabster is 11-5-2-1 and will be ridden for the fifth consecutive time by Joe Talamo.
Owner: Hronis Racing
Trainer: John Sadler
A respectable fourth to world-beater Arrogate in the 2016 Travers Stakes, this 5-year-old horse by Twirling Candy remains in search of his first stakes win as he debuts for Sadler in what will be his 14th career start. Trained previously by Chad Brown, Gift Box has been idle since taking a second condition allowance going a one turn mile at Aqueduct by 8 ¾ lengths on March 24. Purchased for an undisclosed sum by Hronis Brothers Racing, Gift Box has trained lights-out for Sadler, evidenced by a string of solid works, climaxed by a bullet five furlongs of 1:00.00 here on Dec. 19, best of 66 at the distance. With two wins and a second at the San Antonio distance, Gift Box is 13-3-5-2 overall with earnings of $344,160.
THE GRADE II SAN ANTONIO STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 10
Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT
- Pitino—Edwin Maldonado—119
- Battle of Midway—Flavien Prat—124
- Dabster—Joe Talamo—122
- Sonneteer—Kent Desormeaux—122
- Yulong Warrior—Irad Ortiz, Jr.—119
- Tatters to Riches—Tyler Baze—119
- Gift Box—Joel Rosario—122
- Air Strike—Florent Geroux—119
- Beach View—Rafael Bejarano—124
Special early first post time for a 10-race card on Wednesday is at 11:30 a.m. Admission gates will open at 9 a.m. For additional information, please visit www.santaanita.com/live-racing or call (626) 574-RACE.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.