FLORENCE, Ky., Mar. 2, 2013 – Jockey Albin Jimenez guided General Election past a melee at the start and avoided trouble in the stretch to bring the 3-year-old colt home a 13-1 winner in the $75,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes Saturday at Turfway Park.
After contesting the pace, Giant Finish finished half a length behind in second. For Greater Glory was another three-quarters of a length back in third.
The gate melee erupted as Admiral Kitten stumbled badly out of post five. As Admiral Kitten regained his feet, Mellow Fellow lunged out of post three and came over onto both Admiral Kitten and Let's Run, who broke from post four. Mellow Fellow then shot to the lead and set a :23.65 and :47.80 pace as 2-1 favorite Bye Bye Bernie and Giant Finish tracked him.
General Election, who broke from post seven, meanwhile had avoided the tangle and settled five wide and far back. He made a bold move on the turn and went wider yet into the stretch, wisely removed from what became a roller derby contest to his inside. Both Giant Finish, who led briefly after six furlongs, and For Greater Glory, who came from far back, were caught in the bump fest that marked the stretch run.
When the Polytrack settled, final time for the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia Memorial was 1:46.13.
General Election's victory proved that patience through trial and error pays off. He broke his maiden at first asking on the Churchill Downs dirt but since then had posted two disappointing finishes at Fair Grounds.
"He really hadn't run well on the dirt at Fair Grounds," said trainer Kellyn Gorder, who brought him up to his Keeneland operation from New Orleans a week ago. "He won his first race on dirt, so we thought he just didn't get hold of the racetrack at Fair Grounds. We tried blinkers [in his second race there] and that didn't work. We were deciding between the OBS Stakes or here, and we decided to send him here.
"I told Albin to lay mid-pack and make a nice run. We knew there was plenty of speed in the race, so it set up good for us. I thought this race came up tough."
Finishing fourth through 11th were Takin the Sloroad, Stormin Monarcho, Let's Run, Bye Bye Bernie, Silver Tongued, Mellow Fellow, Avare, and Admiral Kitten. Star Contender was scratched by his trainer.
General Election returned $28 for the win, $12.40 to place, and $8 to show.
Given his performance Saturday, Gorder said General Election could return for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) on March 23 but that he would discuss the colt's next move with Elliott Walden, president, CEO, and racing manager of owner WinStar Farm LLC.
General Election now has two wins and one second from four starts and earnings of $81,910. By Harlan's Holiday out of Menekineko, by Kingmambo, he was bred in Kentucky by Meg Buckley and Mike Buckley.
First run in 1982, the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes is the third local prep for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes, following the Turfway Prevue in January and the 96ROCK Stakes in February. The race honors John Battaglia, who as general manager of Turfway (then Latonia) was the visionary behind the Spiral Stakes, which debuted in 1972.