Battle Station makes a Quick Turn Around for Laurel Dash

October 1, 2021

Fourth of Five Turf Stakes Worth $600,000 in Purses Saturday

LAUREL, MD – RB Racing’s 6-year-old multiple stakes winner Battle Station, beaten a nose in the Parx Dash (G3) two starts back, returns in just seven days as part of a wide-open field of 12 entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Laurel Dash at Laurel Park.

The 22nd running of the 5 ½-furlong Laurel Dash for 3-year-olds and up is the fourth of five turf stakes worth $600,000 in purses on a 10-race Fall Festival of Racing program headlined by the $150,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds and $150,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies, both at 1 1/16 miles.

Also on the card are the $100,000 Japan Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles and $100,000 All Along at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares 3 and older. First race post time is 12:40 p.m.

Battle Station drew Post 5 in the Laurel Dash, which comes on a heels of a troubled fifth-place effort behind 108-long shot Hollywood Talent in the Sept. 25 Turf Monster (G3). Battle Station was beaten four lengths that day, but finished ahead of the top two choices – three-time stakes winner Carotari and Grade 3 winner Caravel.

“I know it’s a quick turnaround. We weren’t exactly happy the day that he ran in the Turf Monster, not so much that he didn’t fire. He did, he just got shuffled back early and going five furlongs on a really soft turf course it’s really hard to close,” Parx-based trainer Daniel Velazquez said. “It wasn’t his best showing as far as getting beat by a [108-1] shot, but it was just one of those things. The race just didn’t set up.”

A stakes winner for previous trainers Wesley Ward and Rob Atras, Battle Station ran second to The Critical Way in the Aug. 31 Parx Dash in his first start for Velazquez. Both the Parx Dash and Turf Monster are contested at five furlongs.

“He ran really, really big in the Parx Dash. I think going into this race, the extra half a furlong actually helps him because he’s been sprinting five furlongs the last two starts. I think it will give him a huge advantage,” Velazquez said. “Obviously, it’s coming back super quick, but he seems like he’s OK. He’s eating and doing everything he’s supposed to do, so I don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

Battle Station is 4-for-12 lifetime at 5 ½ furlongs with two seconds and a third. Velazquez said the Turf Monster was a deceivingly good race for his horse, who went off at nearly 17-1.

“The final chart said he got beat four lengths, but that was after a bad, bad trip with a really bad turf course that was kicking back,” he said. “It just didn’t work out as planned. We needed to be closer. It’s tough to give up that much ground going five furlongs.”

Laurel regular Angel Cruz has the mount on Battle Station, after teaming up in the Parx Dash. Rated at 10-1 on the morning line, Battle Station won the 2017 Bertram Bongard and 2018 Rego Park against fellow New York-breds and 2020 Lucky Coin at Saratoga.

“I’m confident with [Cruz]. The horse obviously ran really well for him that day so I have no qualms with him,” Velazquez said. “I think [No. 5] a good post for him. I’m more happy that it’s 5 ½ [furlongs]. I love the distance.”

R. Larry Johnson and RDM Racing Stable’s Matta takes a two-race win streak into the Laurel Dash, both sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on turf. The 5-year-old gelding won optional claimers Aug. 13 at Saratoga and Sept. 11 at Laurel and will be making his stakes debut.

On the far outside is Ed Orr and Susie Orr’s Boldor (4-1), trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen. The gelded 5-year-old son of Munnings has won four stakes over a 20-race career, most recently taking the 5 ½-furlong Punch Line for the second time Sept. 1 at Colonial Downs. Asmussen has won four dirt sprint stakes in Maryland this year – the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) via disqualification with Jalen Journey, Chick Lang (G3) with Mighty Mischief, Lite the Fuse with Yaupon and Star de Naskra with Jaxon Traveler.

Maribeth Sandford and Lynch Racing’s Francatelli is the narrow program favorite at 3-1 as he returns to the turf after winning the five-furlong Rumson by a neck as the favorite Sept. 11 at Monmouth Park. Third in the Parx Dash, a head behind Battle Station, the 4-year-old City Zip gelding has finished third or better in 11 of 13 lifetime starts with six wins, three in stakes, and owns a 2-3-1 record in eight tries on turf.

Stakes winners Smooth B, Grateful Bred, Valued Notion and So Street; 2020 Maryland Million Turf runner-up Cannon’s Roar; and Fiber and Emily, Xy Speed and The Connector are also entered.

Notes: Jockey Charlie Marquez doubled Friday aboard Line Change ($6.40) in Race 3 and Minister’s Strike ($7.40) in Race 9. Minister’s Strike and Race 2 winner Factorintheheat ($27.20) are both trained by Mary Eppler … Rising Sun Racing Stables Inc.’s Ziggy Mon ($7.20) defeated stakes winners Kenny Had a Notion and Karan’s Notion to capture Friday’s featured Race 8, a second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up, giving trainer Claudio Gonzalez his 996th career win. The time for 5 ½ furlongs was 1:02.95 over a fast main track.

Godolphin’s Line Change, a homebred son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist, won at first asking in Race 3, a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight for 2-year-olds. Ridden by Charlie Marquez for trainer Mike Stidham, the winning time was 1:03.76 … The other maiden special weight for 2-year-olds came in Race 8, a 5 ½-furlong sprint on the All Along turf course won by Double O Racing’s second-time starter Trust Daddy ($6.80) in 1:03.04 over the firm going … Teenage jockey Bryson Butterfly, a 16-year-old native of Washington state, made his Maryland debut with three mounts Friday. Represented by agent Marty Leonard, who also has the book for journeymen Jevian Toledo and the injured Sheldon Russell, Butterfly rode his first pro race May 10 at Grants Pass in Oregon, where he also picked up his first winner June 1. He has 17 wins from 171 mounts.

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Laurel Press Release

Photo: battle Station ( Janet Garaguso photo)

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