08/26/2017 8:14PM

Blinkers on, Battle of Midway romps in Shared Belief Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Outfitted with blinkers, Battle of Midway seized command entering the lane and drew off to win the Shared Belief Stakes on Saturday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Jerry Hollendorfer didn’t get into the Hall of Fame nor train more than 7,300 winners by thinking he had all the answers.

He listened to the input from jockey Flavien Prat regarding Battle of Midway when it was suggested blinkers be added to his equipment. Outfitted with those blinkers in a race for the first time on Saturday at Del Mar, Battle of Midway romped to a 6 1/4-length victory in the $100,345 Shared Belief Stakes for 3-year-olds, leaving Grade 1 winners Klimt and Gormley in his wake.

Battle of Midway ($8.40) seized command of the one-mile race entering the lane and drew away powerfully from the lightly raced Gato Del Oro, who was hammered all the way down to the 9-5 favorite. It was another 4 1/4 lengths back to Klimt in third, then came, in order, Gormley, Stone Hands, and Cistron.

True Valor was scratched.

Battle of Midway was timed in 1:35.94 for one mile on the fast main track, but regardless of the time, this was a visually impressive race.

“Today he did everything right,” Prat said.

Prat had ridden Battle of Midway in his three prior starts and four of his last five races, including a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a victory in the Grade 3 Affirmed at Santa Anita. He most recently had finished sixth in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth.

“Last time, I know he broke badly, but we went pretty slow the first quarter. When horses came to him, I felt like he was lugging out,” Prat said. “In the mornings he had become lazy. I thought the blinkers would help out. They did today.”

Prat was aboard for a pre-dawn workout nine days prior to the race, in which Battle of Midway went five furlongs in 1:03.40.

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“I know the time was slow, but from the quarter pole to the wire, he did it the right way,” Prat said. “That’s how he ran today.”

Battle of Midway, a colt by Smart Strike, has now won four times in eight starts. The $60,000 winner’s share on Saturday boosted his bankroll to $620,000. He is owned by Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm, who purchased Battle of Midway privately from Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm after the Santa Anita Derby.

Hollendorfer was at Saratoga on Saturday to run Songbird in the Personal Ensign, but he said before the Shared Belief – and assistant Dan Ward confirmed after – that Battle of Midway would be pointed to either the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 23 or the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington on Sept. 24.