Battle of Midway Wins Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar

(Battle of Midway holds off Dabster to capture the Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday / Photo by Benoit & Courtesy of Del Mar Turf Club)

From the Del Mar Media Team:

In a virtual match race, odds-on favored Battle of Midway, piloted by Flavien Prat, outdueled a game Dabster, ridden by Joe Talamo, to win the $100,000 Native Diver Stakes Sunday at Del Mar.

With the field reduced to three runners after the withdrawal of Roman Rosso, Gift Box and Kershaw, Battle of Midway and Dabster hooked up early in the mile and one-eighth contest over the main track and battled head-and-head for almost the entire distance, with Battle of Midway ultimately prevailing by a neck in 1:50.23. A distant third, 26 lengths farther back, was Isotherm.

Battle of Midway, the four-year-old son of Smart Strike who won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar, went to the gate at 3-5, with Dabster a close second choice at even-money. With only win wagering available, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt returned $3.20 after his seventh victory in 14 starts. First money of $60,000 increased his earnings to $1,409,049 for owners Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm.

Prat and Hollendorfer made it a sweep of Sunday’s features as Calumet Farm’s talented Flying Scotsman scored impressively as the even-money favorite in the Grade III $100,000 Cecil B.DeMille Stakes for two-year-olds.

After pressing the pace of 2-1 second choice Vantastic, Flying Scotsman took control entering the stretch and drew off with a burst of speed to score by four and one-quarter lengths in a stakes record 1:34.44 for the mile over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Closing to be second in the field of five juveniles was Rijeka, a half-length in front of Vantastic, with Takeo Squared fourth, another five and one-quarter lengths back. Scratched was Irish Heatwave.

Flying Scotsman, a chestnut son of English Channel bred in Kentucky, scored his second win in three starts and paid $4, $2.80 and $2.10 to earn first money of $60,000. Rijeka returned $3.60 and $2.80, while Vantastic paid $2.40 to show.

Flying Scotsman completed a training triple for Hollendorfer. In addition to winning the Native Diver with Battle of Midway, the Hall of Fame conditioner also won Sunday’s fifth race with Lucky Student.

Leading rider Drayden Van Dyke booted in three winners – Perfectly Majestic in the second, Lucky Student in the fifth and two-year-old Qahira, an impressive debut winner for trainer Bob Baffert in the seventh. He leads Prat, 15-13, with four days remaining of the 2018 fall season.

FLAVIEN PRAT (Battle of Midway, winner) – “They made us work for it. He (Battle of Midway) 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.”

JOE TALAMO (Dabster, second) – “That was a real horse race! I just wish I’d come out on the other end of it. Still, I’m real proud of my horse; he ran his tail off. He does every time. Even when he gets beat, he runs as hard as he can.”

GEOVANNI FRANCO (Isotherm, third) – “Today just wasn’t his day.”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER (Battle of Midway, winner) – “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. 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. (Battle of Midway) is very businesslike and this will get him ready for his next race.

FRACTIONS:    :23.60  :47.93  1:12.11  1:37.28  1:50.23

The stakes win was the second of the meet for rider Prat, but his first in the Native Diver. He now has 32 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Hollendorfer and his first in the Native Diver. He now has 35 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The owners are the Don Alberto Stable of Fernando Valdes of Lexington, KY and WinStar Farm of Kenny Troutt of Versailles, KY.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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