Report: Battle of Midway Euthanized After Sustaining Injury in Morning Workout at Santa Anita

(Battle of Midway winning at Santa Anita / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

According to journalist Jeremy Balan, of the Blood-Horse, Battle of Midway — one of Thoroughbred racing and breeding’s most amazing storylines — sustained a devastating injury while working at Santa Anita this morning, and was ultimately euthanized.

Stomach churn.

Head turn.


Battle of Midway, a 5-year-old son of Smart Strike, truly had one of the most remarkable racing, and short-term breeding careers of our time.

As a young, developing 3-year-old, Battle of Midway burst onto the scene with a bang. He won his career debut on Jan. 21, 2017 and immediately elevated his game to run third in the G2 San Vicente Stakes in his second start. He was beaten by Iliad in that event by about 8 lengths.

But it wouldn’t take him long to make serious amends. Two starts later, he ran second to the highly-acclaimed Gormley in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. In the next start, he ran a huge third to Always Dreaming in the Kentucky Derby.

He was on his way to stardom for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and owners Don Alberto Stable & WinStar Farm.

After the Derby, Battle of Midway returned to California and immediately won the G3 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita. Two starts later, he won the Shared Belief Stakes. Two starts later, he captured the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in one of the most magnificent performances of a lifetime. In that race, he beat the likes of Sharp Azteca, Awesome Slew, Practical Joke and some of the best milers in the entire world.

The world took notice.

So much so that the connections decided to retire Battle of Midway so that he could begin a promising career as a stallion at one of the world’s most prestigious stallion operations at WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY.

But after one season at stud, which only produced a few mares getting in foal, the decision was suddenly made to return Battle of Midway to the West Coast. To Hollendorfer. To racing.

Not unprecedented. But highly unusual.

In his first start back, Battle of Midway ran second in the G2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar in August of 2018. Two starts later, he won the Come to the Top Stakes at Santa Anita and followed that with a win in the G3 Native Diver Stakes in late November. He finished the 2018 racing season with a second in the G2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita.

If that was not shocking and inspiring enough, Battle of Midway looked as if he was just getting his sea legs back underneath him. In his 2019 debut, he ran down the gritty and gutty McKinzie to win G2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 2.

The future looked so bright.


The future looked so promising.


Until Saturday, Feb. 23.

That’s when the world came crashing in.

It is a horrible end to what was becoming one of racing’s most amazing and uplifting stories. Of all time.

It is a horrible end.

Prayers to all the connections, for their tremendous loss.

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
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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