Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm's stellar 3-year-old colt defeated older horses in a thrilling edition of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Friday at Del Mar.
Making his first start outside the 3-year-old ranks, Battle of Midway showed the grit that had earned him a pair of stakes wins and a gallant third-place finish in this year's Kentucky Derby (G1).
After an alert break, Battle of Midway still was hung four-wide into the first turn and was fifth through the first half-mile. Flavien Prat moved the son of Smart Strike for the lead on the final turn and came into the stretch on even terms with Sharp Azteca, who had set all the fractions.
In the stretch, that duo battled neck and neck until the final strides, when Battle of Midway forged to the front to win by a half-length in 1:35.20.
“Our horse finally found himself here at Del Mar in the Shared Belief Mile (on Aug. 26) and ran a huge race, winning by six and running a big number,” said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “So we felt all along that we could run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile with him liking the racetrack and him looking like he could be a pretty good miler. We used the Oklahoma Derby (on Sept. 24) as a prep for this race, and we got a little bit unlucky in the first turn. He got bounced around, but he still ran a very game race and never gave up. So we never gave up on him either.”
WinStar’s Elliott Walden said of putting the deal together for Battle of Midway, “[Don Alberto advisor] Fernando Diaz was the one who put it together. Fernando and I have done a few deals together with [Don Alberto principal] Carlos Heller. Fernando called me and said that Jerry Hollendorfer really believed in this horse, and Mr. Porter was selling him, and Jerry wanted to keep him. He felt like he was a really, really good horse. So I called Jerry, and Jerry, we haven’t done a lot of business together, but it’s been a great experience, and we’ll do some more.”
Battle of Midway has wins in the Shared Belief S. and Affirmed S. (G3), and is now a millionaire at $1,249,949 after the big payday. He is the first foal out of Rigoletta, the winner of the 2010 Oak Leaf S. (G1).