SUNDAY’S BEN ALI ATTRACTS STAR-STUDDED FIELD OF SEVEN
Grade 1 winners Golden Ticket and Richard’s Kid, plus Keeneland graded stakes winner Successful Dan, top a deep field of seven entered Thursday for Sunday’s 83rd running of the $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
The Ben Ali, which served as the launching pad for Wise Dan’s Horse of the Year campaign in 2012, will go as the eighth race on Sunday’s nine-race program with a 4:42 p.m. (ET) post time.
Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket enters the Ben Ali off a fourth-place finish in the Skip Away Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 30. Trained by Ken McPeek, the four-year-old Speightstown colt dead-heated with Alpha for the victory in last summer’s Travers Stakes (G1). James Graham will ride Golden Ticket, who drew post position three.
David Kenney, Triple B Farms and Westside Rentals.com, et al.’s Richard’s Kid, trained by Doug O’Neill, returns to a Polytrack surface on which he won the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) twice at Del Mar. Third in the Tokyo City Stakes (G3) on dirt at Santa Anita on March 23 in his most recent start, the eight-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik and break from post position five on Sunday.
Morton Fink’s Successful Dan, sidelined by a ligament strain since last summer, will make his seven-year-old debut over a surface on which he never has lost. Four-for-four in his career at Keeneland, the Successful Appeal gelding won the 2010 Fayette Stakes (G2). Charlie LoPresti trains Successful Dan, who will break from post position one and be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Supplemented to the race was Phipps Stable’s Boisterous. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Boisterous is a five-time graded stakes winner on turf and will be making his 2013 debut. Joel Rosario has the mount on Boisterous, a six-year-old son of Distorted Humor who will break from post position seven.
The field for the Ben Ali, from the rail out, is as follows: Successful Dan (Leparoux, 118 pounds), Stephanoatsee (Joe Rocco Jr., 118), Golden Ticket (Graham, 118), Son of a General (Robby Albarado, 120), Richard’s Kid (Napravnik, 118), Hattaash (Kent Desormeaux, 118) and Boisterous (Rosario, 123).
WHERE’S DOMINIC? HE’S NOT AT HIS HOME BASE IN MARYLAND
R.D.M. Racing Stable’s Where’s Dominic is Maryland based and Maryland raced, but this week he is calling Keeneland home.
Based at Fair Hill Training Center, Where’s Dominic has made all of five his career starts at Laurel Park, the past two in stakes.
Pimlico, home of the Preakness Stakes (G1), is hosting the $100,000 Federico Tesio Stakes on April 27, but rather than wait for that, trainer Michael Trombetta put Where’s Dominic on a van to Keeneland. The Midnight Lute colt arrived Tuesday night for a start in Saturday’s $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3).
“He has been training well on the all-weather surface at Fair Hill and we figured this work be a good time to take a shot,” said Trombetta, the “M” in R.D.M. Stable with his father, Rudy, and brother Dino.
Where’s Dominic finished fourth in his most recent start, the Private Terms Stakes on March 9, and was second in the Miracle Wood Stakes on February 9.
“We are going to change equipment and put blinkers on him for the Lexington,” Trombetta said. “He was in position to win his last two races but did not get it done. He has been working well in them.”
Where’s Dominic jogged Wednesday morning and galloped Thursday morning under exercise rider Xavier Aizpuru.
“I got on him some last year at Fair Hill, but I am not his regular rider,” Aizpuru said. “He has been good out there both mornings and did not do a lot of looking around.”
Although Where’s Dominic is new to Keeneland, Aizpuru is not. He was on the wrong end of two photos in the last two runnings of the Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings Hurdles (G1) in 2007 and 2008.
“My heart started racing a little bit when we drove in,” Aizpuru said with a laugh. “And then I had a flashback in the Shakertown (G3) on Saturday when Next Question (trained by Trombetta) was fifth beaten a nose, a head, a neck and a head. We are due for some better luck.”
Edgar Prado will ride Where’s Dominic for the first time in the Coolmore Lexington.
STEVENS HAS SEAMLESS RETURN TO KEENELAND COMPETITION
Through Wednesday, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has two wins in 10 mounts at Keeneland to mark his return to competition at the track where he hadn’t ridden since October 2005 -- a month before he announced his retirement from the saddle. That retirement officially ended on January 6, when Stevens returned to competition at Santa Anita. He scored his first win on January 12, riding Branding to win the first race at Santa Anita. On February 10, Stevens rode Slim Shadey to win the San Marcos Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
During his retirement from riding, Stevens remained closely involved in the sport. He portrayed Hall of Fame jockey George Woolf in the popular motion picture “Seabiscuit” and appeared in the HBO miniseries “Luck.” Stevens also was a racing analyst for NBC Sports, HRTV and TVG. The latter assignment brought him back to Keeneland, keeping him in touch with the younger jockeys who now join him and other veteran riders in the jockeys quarters.
“I’ve been back for four months now, and it feels like I was never away,” he said Thursday morning.
Stevens, now 50, first rode at Keeneland in 1986 and had 24 wins in 130 start through 2005. The first of his eight stakes wins here came in 1988 when he rode Wonders Delight to win the Alcibiades Stakes (G2). Others include the 1998 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (then a Grade 2 race) aboard Halory Hunter. Stevens’ final stakes win at the track came on October 21, 2005, when he rode Asi Siempre to win the Valley View Stakes (G3).
In the summer of 2006, Keeneland underwent a massive renovation that included the installation of Polytrack on the main track.
“I’ve only rode a handful of races on it, but so far so good,” Stevens said about the surface. “I like what I feel and like the way the horses are reacting to it.”
On Friday, Stevens will ride Artemus Kitten in the Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (G3). On Saturday, he will be aboard Sunbean in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3). Both horses are trained by Mike Maker. Stevens won the 1997 Lexington (then a Grade 2 race) aboard Touch Gold.
Steven Ciccarone’s Regalo Mia, winner of the Orchid Stakes (G3) in her most recent start and nominated to next Thursday’s Bewitch Stakes (G3), worked five furlongs on firm turf around the dogs in 1:03.40 for trainer Michelle Nihei. Regalo Mia’s final quarter-mile was in :23.40. …
Glen Hill Farm’s Marketing Mix, runner-up in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) in her most recent start, worked six furlongs on the main track in 1:14 for trainer Tom Proctor. A five-time graded stakes winner, Marketing Mix posted fractions of :12, :24.20, :36.20, :48.60, 1:01.20 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.80.
UPCOMING SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS
Thursday, April 18 - Saturday, April 20
Budweiser Clydesdales. On Thursday through Friday, fans can have their photo taken with a member of the world-famous team from noon – 1 p.m. at the South Grandstand entrance (weather permitting). On April 20, the Budweiser Clydesdales will appear on Keeneland’s main track between races.
Friday, April 19
Jockey Autograph Signing. Meet retired jockeys, including Pat Day, Jean Cruguet, John Oldham and Patti Cooksey, and current Keeneland riders from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. adjacent to the paddock. Jockeys will sign photos of the current jockey colony, posters and hats to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Friday Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $200,000-guaranteed pool will be offered on races 7-10.
Friday Happy Hour. Fans are encouraged to stick around after the final race to enjoy live music and simulcast wagering at Happy Hour in the Mezzanine Bar.
Friday, April 19 - Sunday, April 21
The Keeneland Gift Shop Presents a trunk show by Dorfman Pacific from 11 a.m –6 p.m.
Saturday, April 20
Sunrise Trackside offers activities for the entire family beginning at 7 a.m. with Breakfast With the Works, featuring a Southern-style
breakfast and trackside commentary on Thoroughbreds as they train until 8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); a demonstration in the paddock featuring millionaire and multiple graded stakes winner Arson Squad, a resident of Old Friends equine retirement facility (8:45 a.m.); walking tours of Keeneland (8:30-10:30 a.m.); photos with legendary bugler George “Bucky” Sallee in the paddock (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); a trackside handicapping seminar (11:30 a.m.); and a Q&A session with a Keeneland jockey in the paddock (12:05 p.m.).
Tailgating on “The Hill.” Watch and wager on Keeneland’s live racing from the tailgate lot. Located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, The Hill features a variety of food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, and race-day programs and general admission tickets available for purchase. A concert by the Bluegrass band Town Mountain will be featured.
Sunday, April 21
Military Appreciation Day Presented by Windstream. Active and inactive members of the military and their families receive free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music and activities. Because April is the Month of the Military Child, Keeneland will have special giveaways and activities for children in the Military Family Zone from noon-4 p.m.
KEENELAND 2013 SPRING MEET LEADERS
(Stats Through Wednesday, April 17)
Current Meet Leading Jockeys
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Joel Rosario 50 15 3 6 $541,482
Julien Leparoux 46 10 8 7 $1,103,325
Alan Garcia 30 7 3 2 $388,066
Rosie Napravnik 44 6 10 7 $366,229
Javier Castellano 22 5 3 3 $324,484
Edgar Prado 20 5 3 2 $282,280
Corey Lanerie 57 3 10 9 $240,793
Shaun Bridgmohan 41 3 4 8 $187,286
Jesus Castanon 19 3 3 1 $ 94,494
Francisco Torres 27 2 3 2 $ 95,567
Miguel Mena 24 2 3 2 $106,328
Roberto Morales 20 2 2 1 $ 64,130
Joseph Rocco Jr. 26 2 1 3 $ 81,475
Leandro Goncalves 11 2 0 1 $ 26,315
Gary Stevens 10 2 0 1 $ 56,563
John Velazquez 4 2 0 0 $ 93,248
14 jockeys tied with 1 win each.
Current Meet Leading Trainers
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Michael Maker 39 9 8 2 $311,242
H. Graham Motion 17 5 4 3 $344,966
Ken McPeek 23 5 3 1 $627,440
Wesley Ward 22 5 1 3 $172,357
Shug McGaughey 12 4 2 2 $245,222
Mark Casse 27 4 2 0 $170,640
Jonathan Sheppard 5 4 0 0 $135,263
Todd Pletcher 8 3 1 2 $364,948
Wayne Catalano 16 2 1 4 $ 93,042
George Arnold II 12 2 1 2 $248,479
Charlie LoPresti 8 2 1 0 $238,187
James Baker 4 2 1 0 $ 57,884
Eddie Kenneally 6 2 0 1 $ 61,545
George Leonard III 3 2 0 0 $ 24,300
34 trainers tied with 1 win each.