01/05/2018 12:16PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Battle of Midway

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From an unstarted maiden at the beginning of the year to a Grade 1 winner against elders in the Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Battle of Midway had one of the most extensive and productive campaigns in racing in 2017.

Racing virtually once a month, Battle of Midway ran 10 times and won five, including three stakes, and also finished third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Santa Anita Derby.

Based in California with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, he made three trips out of state, but for him, there was no place like home. Battle of Midway scored all five of his victories in Southern California, and he was lethal at Del Mar, where he won the Shared Belief – named for Hollendorfer’s late champion – as well as the Dirt Mile.

That résumé was strong enough to make Battle of Midway a finalist for champion 3-year-old male.

Battle of Midway, bred by Thor-Bred Stables, is by Smart Strike out of the Concerto mare Rigoletta – winner of the 2010 Oak Leaf Stakes (now known as the Chandelier). He was purchased as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale for $410,000 by the Fox Hill Farm of Rick Porter. As with Normandy Invasion, the fourth-place finisher in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Porter named Battle of Midway for a pivotal moment in World War II.

Battle of Midway won his debut sprinting at Santa Anita, then was a distant third in the Grade 2 San Vicente before winning his two-turn debut in an allowance race.

It was his next start, the Santa Anita Derby, when Battle of Midway first hinted at his high quality, holding on for second after setting or pressing a strong pace that sapped everyone else near it.

After that race, Porter agreed to sell Battle of Midway to a partnership of Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm. Battle of Midway raced the rest of his career for the partnership, beginning in the Kentucky Derby, in which he was a respectable third behind Always Dreaming, another finalist in this category.

Back at Santa Anita, Battle of Midway earned his first graded stakes victory in the Grade 3 Affirmed, then returned to the road for the Haskell at Monmouth. He broke poorly, rushed up, and finished sixth. After that race, Battle of Midway was outfitted in blinkers, and subsequently raised the level of his performances.

In the Shared Belief on Aug. 26, Battle of Midway attended a fast pace and then kicked clear powerfully in what was, at the time, a lifetime best effort. He suffered a defeat in the Oklahoma Derby, but back at Del Mar for the Dirt Mile saved his best for last, downing the outstanding older horse Sharp Azteca, who subsequently came back to win the Cigar Mile.

Battle of Midway was retired days after the Dirt Mile and has joined the stallion roster at WinStar, where he will begin stud duty in February.