Surgical Strike scores exciting win for Battaglia’s last call

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TwinSpires Staff

March 13th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Nearly last in the early going, Surgical Strike made a powerful move leaving the backstretch, went wide for running room in the stretch and blew by the field to take the $92,357 John Battaglia Memorial S. by 2 1/2 lengths Saturday evening at Turfway Park.

Blue Wings was out first in the field of 12 and set fractions of :23.78, 48:08 and 1:12:49 before yielding first to 5-2 favorite Whatawonderflworld and then to Surgical Strike, who finished the 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-olds in 1:45.12.

This 34th running of the Battaglia Memorial was the final race Mike Battaglia called as Turfway Park’s regular track announcer, though he plans to return each year to call what he refers to as “my dad’s race.” Multiple generations of the Battaglia family filled the winner’s circle for the trophy presentation.

Surgical Strike returned $8.20 to win as the 3-1 second choice. Whatawonderflworld made a late move of his own to get second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Sawyers Mickey in third.

“There was a lot of speed in the race but it didn’t go as fast early on as I thought,” said Ben Colebrook, trainer of Surgical Strike. “He was a little bit farther back than maybe we drew it up. But the horse has a got a big turn of foot when you cut him loose, so I was never really too worried.

“He’s still not used to getting dirt in his face because he’s run primarily on the grass until these last few starts, so that was a very good lesson for him. If everything goes right, we’ll be back in three weeks (for the Spiral [G3]).”

Surgical Strike actually made his main track debut last out in Turfway’s WEBN S., a 6 1/2-furlong contest in which the Reg Giant colt finished third. Jockey Orlando Mojica was aboard for that race and returned a winner in the Battaglia.

“Last time I rode him he got the Polytrack in his face,” Mojica said, “and I was worried today if he stayed too far back, but I had a lot of horse. I was wide in the first turn, then on the second turn I had to go wide again because I had a lot of horse.”

Strike Up the Band came from last to get fourth, followed by Blue Wings, Oh Oz, Brerry, Torrontes, Swagger Jagger, Bandar, Riding in the Wind and Triple Creek. Also-eligibles Lemondrop Bold and Scattered Cash were scratched.

Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Edward A. Seltzer and Beverly Anderson, Surgical Strike is out of the unraced Smart Strike mare Preemptive Attack, making him a half-brother to Grade 2 heroine Sky Treasure and stakes-placed Panther Strike. Preemptive Attack is herself a daughter of multiple Canadian champion Bold Ruritana.

Surgical Strike now boasts a 2-1-1 mark from eight career starts and has banked $159,813 in lifetime earnings. The chestnut colt previously was fourth in the grassy Dania Beach (G3) to kick off his sophomore campaign and also ran fifth in the Bourbon (G3) on Keeneland’s turf as a juvenile.

Surgical Strike photo courtesy of Turfway Park/Coady Photography
Mike Battaglia photo courtesy of Turfway Park/Coady Photography