03/03/2011 3:37PM

Good effort in Battaglia could earn Admiral Perry a shot at Spiral

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Shug McGaughey has run an odds-on favorite in the Kentucky Derby, runner-up Easy Goer in 1989, so he has no delusions about how a colt named Admiral Perry matches up with the top 3-year-olds of 2011.

McGaughey went out of his way this week to put Admiral Perry on a northbound van from his Florida base for Turfway Park, where on Saturday night the dark bay colt will be one of the favorites in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.

“I don’t have any visions of the Kentucky Derby or anything,” said McGaughey. “But maybe if he ran good, we’d run back in the next one there. I just thought it was logical to give him a try in a spot like this.”

Admiral Perry, with leading jockey Ben Creed to ride, will break from post 1 in a field of nine 3-year-olds in the Battaglia, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race that serves as the local prep for the Grade 3, $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes. The 40th running of the annual Turfway showcase, which has been held under a variety of names, is set for March 26.

Admiral Perry enters off back-to-back victories, the most recent coming in a first-level turf allowance at Tampa Bay Downs.

“He ran real well on the grass at Tampa and seemed to like it a lot,” said McGaughey. “I thought maybe he’d like the Poly. There aren’t going to be any ‘two other thans’ down here, so this looked pretty good.”

Among the other contenders are Blue Laser, winner of the Grey Stakes last fall; Positive Response, a two-back winner of the California Derby; and Twinspired, a 4 1/4-length winner of the WEBN Stakes four weeks ago.

Twinspired is owned by three ownership groups.

“We’re all having a great time with him,” said Dr. Harvey Diamond, a principal in Skychai (pronounced “Sky High”) Racing.

This will be the 30th running of the Battaglia, named for the general manager of the track formerly known as Latonia. Veteran race-caller Mike Battaglia traditionally presents the winner’s trophy in honor of his late father.

First post Saturday is 5:30 p.m Eastern., with the Battaglia (9:22 post) carded as the ninth of 12 races.