06/24/2017 6:18PM

Battle of Midway leads all the way in Affirmed Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Battle of Midway paid $2.20 in winning the Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - In a performance that was little more than a trial, Battle of Midway won his first stakes in Saturday’s Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita.

The $98,000 Affirmed Stakes was considered a prep race for Battle of Midway for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30, one of the top summertime race for 3-year-olds.

“Timing-wise, it seems to fit,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

The Affirmed Stakes was Battle of Midway’s first start since a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby at Churchil Downs on May 6.

Battle of Midway ($2.20) led throughout 1 1/16 miles in the Affirmed Stakes, drawing off to win by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:43.25. Ridden by jockey Flavien Prat, Battle of Midway led by a length on the first turn, by a half-length on the backstretch and by a head over runner-up B Squared on the turn before pulling clear.

“He’s better with a target, but there was no pace,” Prat said.

“He broke sharp and went on his own. When B Squared came to him, he was more focused on his job and made a nice run. He did everything right.”

Battle of Midway, who is by Smart Strike, set slow fractions of 24.50 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.88 for a half-mile. The race had only four starters.

Term of Art, who finished last of 10 in the Preakness Stakes on May 20, finished third, beaten 9 3/4 lengths by Battle of Midway. Quiet Dude, a former maiden claimer, finished fourth.

Arms Runner, the undefeated stakes-winner in turf sprints, was scratched on Saturday morning in favor of the Oceanside Stakes on turf at Del Mar on July 19, trainer Peter Miller said.

The Affirmed was Battle of Midway’s third win in six starts. He was third in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes in February and second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in his stakes appearances before the Kentucky Derby.

Owned by Don Alberto and WinStar Farm, Battle of Midway has earned $550,000.

“We think he’s improving more and more,” Hollendorfer said.