03/01/2007 12:00AM

Shippers take on Joe Got Even

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Joe Got Even will try to further his stature along the Turfway Park trail to the Kentucky Derby when he faces a tough test Saturday in the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.

Joe Got Even, an emphatic winner of the Feb. 10 WEBN Stakes at Turfway, will face several interesting new shooters in the Battaglia. Based at Keeneland with trainer Phil Sims, Joe Got Even has been the target of numerous would-be buyers, but Sims said owners Joe Vaudo and Elizabeth Tobin are not interested in selling the son of Stephen Got Even.

Joe Got Even, a winner in 3 of 6 lifetime starts, drew post 3 in a field of 11 entered in the Battaglia, which precedes Turfway's showcase race, the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, by three weeks. Sims said he intends to use the Grade 2 Lane's End as the litmus test to determine whether to keep Joe Got Even on the Derby trail.

Among the new challengers, all of them shipping in from different circuits, are the Graham Motion pair of Legacy Reserve, in from Fair Hill in northeast Maryland, and Rutledge Cat, up from Palm Meadows in south Florida; Digger, a Maryland-based colt trained by Phil Schoenthal; and Approval Rating, who has raced exclusively in Canada but has been training recently at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

Rutledge Cat might be the most dangerous foe. Last fall, the colt won a two-turn maiden race over Polytrack at Keeneland, and after several respectable efforts in the interim, he returns to that surface Saturday, when he will have apprentice Alonso Quinonez aboard. Rutledge Cat will break alongside Joe Got Even from post 2.

Joe Got Even will be ridden by Miguel Mena, who left Turfway earlier this week to be at the side of his 16-year-old brother, Aderly, an apprentice rider who was in a coma after being injured in a spill during a race at their hometown track in Lima, Peru. Mena, who led the Turfway jockey standings before missing the Wednesday and Thursday programs, said through his agent, Steve Elzey, that he wished to dedicate his ride on Joe Got Even to his brother.

"Miguel said the prognosis for his brother is actually positive, but Miguel felt he needed to go home because an injury like that obviously is very serious," said Elzey.

The Battaglia is named for the longtime Turfway general manager who died in 1981. John Battaglia's family, including his son Mike, the announcer at Turfway, will make the winner's presentation.