DEL MAR, CA – Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm’s Battle of Midway took full advantage of the small field and his fast break to narrowly win Sunday’s running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar.
Breaking sharply from the innermost gate as the 3/5 favorite under Flavien Prat, Battle of Midway battled back and forth with Dabster through opening fractions of :23.60, :47.93, and 1:12.11. Securing command as he headed into the far turn, Battle of Midway dueled gamely with his stubborn foe for the length of the stretch before prevailing by a hard-fought neck. The final time for the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee’s score was 1:50.23 for the 9-furlong event over the fast main track.
“They made us work for it,” said Prat, who along with Hollendorfer swept both stakes races on the Sunday Del Mar card. “He does better with a target, but we had a three-horse field today, so what are you going to do? He ran well, though, and got it done.”
The field’s only other runner, Isotherm, was never much of a factor in the race and was eased in the stretch run when it was apparent that he was not in contention, crossing 26 lengths behind the others. Roman Rosso, Gift Box, and Kershaw (who won an allowance race here Saturday) were all scratched.
Battle of Midway’s win was his second straight following a similar front-running score last out in the 8-furlong Comma to the Top Stakes at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike now carries a record of 14-7-3-2 with earnings of $1,409,049.
“We thought the tactics of Dabster would be to try and get the lead or be right there with us, so it worked out kind of like we thought it would,” Hollendorfer said. “They rode a good tactic trying to beat us, but he showed some guts. Sometimes they have to. In the end, we were a neck ahead, and that worked out for us. He is very businesslike and this will get him ready for his next race.”
Battle of Midway returned $3.20 to win. There was no place or show betting.