Updated on 09/17/2011 10:00AM

Champali stuck outside and facing Grey Comet

Adam Coglianese
New York-bred Grey Comet ships in to Turfway Park for Saturday's $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.

Well, this should be quite a test for Champali. Not only will Champali, a Glitterman colt, face one of the most accomplished opponents of his nascent career when he takes on Grey Comet in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, but he also will have the distinct disadvantage of starting from post 11 in the 1 1/16-mile race Saturday at Turfway Park.

Three months into the Kentucky winter, Champali has emerged as clearly the best 3-year-old not to leave the state for warmer climates. Owned by Lloyd Madison Farms and trained at Trackside in Louisville by Greg Foley, Champali already has won the Turfway Prevue and WEBN-Frog Stakes at the Florence, Ky., track, giving him a lifetime record of 5 for 6. His record is further legitimized by his win as a 2-year-old in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Although the Iroquois win came against solid company, neither the Prevue nor Frog lured an opponent of the caliber of Grey Comet, a New York invader who has won four of his five starts and is trained by Gary Contessa. For the Battaglia, Grey Comet drew post 1, which normally is a significant edge in two-turn races at Turfway.

Jason Lumpkins rides Champali, while Aaron Gryder is named on Grey Comet.

Beyond the two favorites, the main contenders in the Battaglia appear to be a handful of horses who last raced at Turfway. They include Chicken Soup Kid and Tito's Beau, who finished behind Champali in the Frog last month.

The Battaglia is the key local prep for the annual showcase event at Turfway, the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, which will be run March 22. The Lane's End typically produces a starter or two for the Kentucky Derby.

Last year, the Battaglia was a worthwhile race on the Derby trail. Perfect Drift won over Request for Parole, and they eventually ran third and fifth behind War Emblem in the Derby.

The Battaglia is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Eastern as the 10th of 12 Saturday races.

The Battaglia is named for the former longtime general manager of Turfway, which then was named Latonia. John Battaglia, who died in 1981, founded the Spiral Stakes, which now is known as the Lane's End.

* Turfway has been plagued by weather problems this winter, having been forced to cancel nine straight cards from Feb. 13-23, but live racing resumed Wednesday night.

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