Florence, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Poker Player and Solitary Ranger, both trained by Wayne Catalano, are the starting co-highweights for Saturday's 11-horse field, $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.
The 1 1/16-mile stakes is the last local prep for Turfway's $550,000 Spiral Stakes on Saturday, March 22.
Poker Player and Solitary Ranger will each carry 124 pounds versus their nine 3-year-old rivals. Channing Hill will ride Poker Player starting from the inside post and Solitary Ranger will break from post 2 with Florent Geroux in the saddle.
Owned by Gary and Mary West, Poker Player will be making his first start of the year in the Battaglia. The gray colt won last October's Bourbon Stakes on Keeneland's synthetic main track after it was taken off the turf and run at 1 1/16 miles.
Poker Player concluded his 2-year-old campaign with an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. The colt has earned $145,900 with two wins in four starts.
Solitary Ranger, owned by Susan Moulton, is coming into Saturday's start off a win in an allowance race on the turf at Fair Grounds on Jan. 5. After finishing second in his first two career starts at Keeneland, the colt won the Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park last September.
"The horse has a lot of talent," Catalano said after winning the Arlington stakes. "Wesley Ward has a nice horse (No Nay Never) that beat him and he went on across the pond and won the best two races in (Europe). That flattered our horse."
Solitary Ranger set the pace, but finished ninth in Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 5. He has banked $134,743 with two wins and two seconds in five starts.
Also making his seasonal debut Saturday will be Laddie Boy, trained by Chuck Peery. The gray colt, owned by Kevin Jacobsen, will be ridden by Jesus Castanon from post 6.
Laddie Boy broke his maiden in his second start followed by a fifth in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs and an eighth in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.
The colt came back with a win in an allowance race at Keeneland on Nov. 2 and finished 2013 with a runner-up result in Churchill's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Laddie Boy has earned $94,279 with two wins in six starts.
From the rail out, here is the field for the John Battaglia Memorial: Poker Player, Channing Hill; Solitary Ranger, Florent Geroux; Canzoni, Albin Jimenez; Emmett Park, Lori Wydick; Red River Rising, Ramon Vazquez; Laddie Boy, Jesus Castanon; Kids Rule, Dean Sarvis; General Jack, Dylan Davis; Empower, Jeremy Rose; Chester's Park, Ben Creed and Harry's Holiday, Rodney Prescott.
Post-time for the Battaglia Memorial will be approximately 5:22 p.m. ET.