02/21/2013 2:31PM

Turfway Park notes: Mac the Man likely to pass Battaglia and train up to Spiral

Pat Lang/Lang Photography
Mac the Man was a dominant winner of the Turfway Prevue and 96 Rock Stakes.

Jeff Greenhill said this week that his stable star Mac the Man most likely will skip the final prep and just train into the $550,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 23.

Mac the Man was a dominant winner of two earlier $50,000 preps, the Turfway Prevue and 96 Rock Stakes, and probably would have been the favorite in the next one, the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial. The Battaglia, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race, will be run next Saturday, March 2, at the northern Kentucky track.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“I started looking at his form and thought maybe I’d been running him like a $15,000 claimer,” said Greenhill, who owns Mac the Man with his wife, Sherri. “I’ve already run him three times since [Dec. 8]. The Battaglia would make four races and the Spiral would be five. So I just think it’s better to skip this one and really zero in on the Spiral.”

Greenhill, 57, quit his job 16 years ago as a chemical engineer in Alabama to get into racing full time. Mac the Man, by El Corredor, is his most exciting prospect yet.

“The colt’s training awfully well,” he said. “This weekend I’ll probably give him his first breeze since that last race. We’ll just continue that way and keep our fingers crossed. His breezes up to the Spiral will all be based on track condition. I won’t have any kind of predetermined schedule.”

Meanwhile, 3-year-olds from a handful of high-profile stables are being seriously considered for the Battaglia, which does not offer any points in the new Kentucky Derby eligibility system. Those horses are Avare for Doug O’Neill, Giant Finish for Tony Dutrow, Bye Bye Bernie for Kelly Breen, and at least one from the Mark Casse contingent.

“It depends on how they breeze this weekend,” Casse said Thursday from Florida. “I have four I’m considering. I’ll send at least one, and it might be two.”

Arroyo in money dispute

Norberto Arroyo Jr. continues to have a productive winter at Turfway, but his stint has not been without the kind of controversy that has characterized much of his riding career.

Arroyo – the leading jockey at the holiday meet in December and the leading rider with 29 wins (into this weekend) at the winter-spring meet that began Jan. 1 – was called before the stewards last month in regard to a monetary dispute with his former agent Scotty Ward.

Barbara Borden, acting chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said the stewards have not been presented with sufficient evidence to rule on the dispute. Ward claims he is owed several thousand dollars from his time working for Arroyo, who denied the debt to the stewards. Their working arrangement ended “sometime around the first of the year,” according to Borden.

Arroyo’s return to riding at Turfway followed a layoff of more than three years after he served prison time on drug charges stemming from his arrest at Saratoga in August 2009. He also ran afoul of the law on a number of prior occasions after he began riding in the United States in 1999.

◗ The Saturday co-features at Turfway are back-to-back $24,200 allowances for the female set. Both are set for 6 1/2 furlongs, with race 10 for 3-year-old fillies and race 11 for older fillies and mares.

◗ Turfway will continue to run just twice a week – Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons – until racing is held Thursday, March 21, two days before the Spiral. Ten races are being carded every Friday and 12 on Saturday. The meet ends March 30.