02/28/2015 10:56PM

Royal Son scores 9-1 upset in John Battaglia Memorial

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The Todd Pletcher-trained Royal Son, with Rodney Prescott aboard, wins the John Battaglia Memorial for 3-year-olds.

Even with Gulfstream Park canceling racing after the fifth race Saturday due to  heavy thunderstorms, and as a consequence postponing the return of the Todd Pletcher-trained Daredevil in the Swale, Pletcher ended up winning a stakes for 3-year-olds anyway.

The Pletcher-trained Royal Son, the 9-1 third choice in the race, led throughout to take the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in a 5 1/4-length romp, while 1-5 favorite The Great War bombed, falling apart after chasing the pace for six furlongs and running last, with Equibase chart callers commenting he bled.

Re-equipped with blinkers after seemingly intimidating when seventh in the Sam. F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 31, Royal Son turned in a professional performance in the Battaglia. He sped to the lead under Rodney Prescott, setting modest fractions of 24.80 and 49.80 seconds, and after turning back a brief challenge from the The Great War entering the second turn of the 1 1/16-mile race, always held a commanding lead thereafter.

The Great War, routing for just the second time in his 10th start, stopping abruptly after appearing full of run early.  He raced with Lasix, but still bled, per the Equibase chart.

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Pepper Roani and Milwaukee Mist rallied to be a distant second and third in a strung-out field, never threatening the winner.

Royal Son, a son of Tiznow owned and bred by WinStar Farm, ran the distance on Polytrack in 1:46.84. He paid $20.60.

He seems a logical candidate for the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway on March 21 – the signature race at the track, and a major Kentucky Derby prep. Other prominent 3-year-olds pointing for the Spiral include Imperia and Metaboss.