Battier Turns Up the Heat in G2 Dwyer
By Jon Forbes | 07/04/2013 04:06 PM ET
Battier leads a contingent of six sophomores seeking their first graded stakes win in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer at Belmont Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Dwyer for 3-year-olds was carded as Saturday’s ninth race. The Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap for older horses will immediately precede the Dwyer. Together, they will serve as the first two legs of the $300,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4.
Battier, the 2-1 Dwyer morning-line favorite, gradually has ascended in class since posting his first victory when in for a $40,000 tag in November at Parx Racing. He followed his maiden win with two more triumphs at Parx – a starter allowance on New Year’s Day and an entry-level allowance on January 28 – and was second in his stakes debut, the Private Terms in March at Laurel Park.
After winning the restricted Fit to Fight overnight stakes by 1 ½ lengths on April 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack, Battier was purchased privately by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Brahman Red LLC and transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher from the barn of Pablo Andrade.
In his first start for his new connections, the seven-furlong Gygistar overnight stakes on May 22 at Belmont, Battier trailed in fifth while racing along the rail, stayed inside as he offered his bid turning for home, and raced evenly late to finish third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths.
“The Gygistar was probably a little shorter than we had hoped to run, but I think he ran well,” said Pletcher. “We learned a few things about how he needs to be ridden, and I hope those things can be applied to this race.”
For the second straight race, Battier drew post position 1.
“Unfortunately, we got the rail post again,” said Pletcher. “We won’t take him back. Most likely Moreno will be the main speed, and with him being drawn outside of us [in post 2] it will be up to [jockey] John Velazquez to figure it out.”
Pletcher’s horses will bookend the starting gate as his other entrant, Abraham, drew post position 6.
Abraham, owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing, seeks his first win since earning his diploma in February at Gulfstream Park in his second start. He then was third in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in March and fourth in both the Grade 3 Illinois Derby in April at Hawthorne and the Grade 2 Peter Pan in the slop on May 11 at Belmont Park.
In the Peter Pan, Abraham couldn’t keep up with Freedom Child and finished 15 ½ lengths behind the winner.
“It was a hard race to evaluate because of the surface, and Freedom Child ran everyone off their feet,” said Pletcher. “He never came back to the field. I thought our horse ran an even race. I think he has a fortunate post position draw [in the Dwyer], and because of that I think that maybe for the first time he’ll be able to let the race unfold in front of him.”
Junior Alvarado will ride Abraham, 5-2, from post 6.
Also exiting the Peter Pan is Saint Vigeur, who raced in fifth before picking up the pieces and finishing second, beaten 13 ¼ lengths. Prior to the Peter Pan, he had won two straight: a maiden special weight in February at Gulfstream and an optional claimer in April at Aqueduct.
Saint Vigeur, 4-1, will depart from post 3.
The field also includes recent maiden winner Moreno; For Greater Glory, second in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs on June 2 after finishing sixth in the Illinois Derby; and Make Your Move, who won a starter allowance/optional claiming race on May 30 at Belmont.
The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer: