02/25/2011 1:15PM

Blue Laser will make 3-year-old debut in Battaglia Memorial at Turfway

Barbara D. Livingston
Blue Laser will make his 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.

Blue Laser will make his 3-year-old debut next Saturday, March 5, after shipping north from Florida to run in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Winner of the Grade 3 Grey Stakes last October over the synthetic surface at Woodbine for owner WinStar Farm and trainer Mark Casse, Blue Laser will be making his first start since failing to finish in the Nov. 20 Delta Downs Jackpot.

“The colt will ship midweek from Ocala,” Casse said. “I’ve trained him some on the dirt at Palm Meadows, and I don’t think he handles it as well as the synthetic.”

Blue Laser is one of a handful of moderately accomplished 3-year-olds being pointed to the Battaglia, a 1 1/16-mile race that serves as the local prep for the annual Turfway showcase, the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes. The Grade 3, $500,000 Vinery Spiral will be run March 26.

Other prospects include Northern California shipper Positive Response, winner of the California Derby in January for trainer Bill Morey; south Florida shipper Shadow Warrior, trained by Rusty Arnold; and Twinspired, an easy winner of the last Turfway race in the division, the WEBN Stakes earlier this month.

Casse said Blue Laser had a nightmarish experience in the Delta Jackpot. “You can throw it out,” he said. “He pulled his left front shoe off two jumps out of the gate and tore off a big portion of his foot.”

Blue Laser did not finish after being part of the chain reaction that occurred when jockey Calvin Borel was thrown from his mount late in the final turn of the Jackpot.

Casse said he intends to run another of his top 3-year-olds, Strike Oil, in the $100,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Championship on March 14.

Spiral giveaways planned

The next few Saturday nights at Turfway all will have some sort of theme toward the Vinery Spiral.

On March 12, the track will give away Spiral ballcaps to the first 1,000 customers. On March 19, Spiral souvenir glasses will be given away to the first 1,500 customers. Also on March 19, the 10th annual Charity Night at the Tables will take place during and after the races in the Maker’s Mark VIP tent. More information on the charity night is available by calling (859) 578-8800.

Meanwhile, Turfway president Bob Elliston said this week that “it’s too early to tell” whether switching to night racing on Saturdays has proven beneficial for business. Comparisons in handle figures were not made available, although Elliston did say that receipts are “up substantially” in terms of food and drink from ontrack patrons.

Turfway switched from traditional afternoon racing to Saturday nights on Feb. 5.

◗ Into Friday night action, Ben Creed continued to hold a comfortable lead atop the jockey standings at the Turfway winter-spring meet with 37 winners.

◗ The stable area at Churchill Downs is scheduled to reopen March 11 after closing Dec. 31 for the usual down time for annual maintenance chores.