Alumni Hall returns to his favorite racetrack for a repeat score in Thursday's Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at 1 1/8 miles.
The Neil Howard trainee sports a four-for-five record at Keeneland and will be trying for his first win since last fall's Fayette Stakes (gr. III) at the Lexington track. Now seven, the son of A.P.Indy
has been out twice this year and shows a third-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds and an unplaced effort at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park. Regular rider Robby Albarado gets the call.
The Ben Ali marks the 2006 debut for Canadian champion Palladio, who won last spring over Keeneland's turf. Last year's top 3-year-old male north of the border, Palladio will be making his first start since November for trainer Roger Attfield. Rafael Bejarano rides the son of Lycius
for the first time.
Wanderin Boy, a Nick Zito trainee, figures to get plenty of support in his quest to get the major portion of the $150,000 guaranteed Ben Ali purse. The son of Seeking the Gold
comes off a front-running, 10-length score at 1 1/16 miles opening day at Keeneland. He also sports a win over Alumni Hall in last year's Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. Javier Castellano rides for the second straight time.
Cosmonaut, the high weight at 121 pounds, is the only other contestant to go directly into the race off a win. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Cosmonaut won the March 25 Golden Gate Fields Handicap (gr. III) at the Ben Ali distance. Julien Leparoux rides the son of Lemon Drop Kid
for the first time.
Noble Causeway, last year's Florida Derby (gr. I) runner-up, is another trained by Zito. The son of Giant's Causeway
is coming off a Gulfstream campaign that resulted in one win from three races. Jeremy Roses rides again.
Rounding out the field is It's No Joke, who is trying to rebound after a poor effort in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II). In his two other races this year, both at Gulfstream, the son of Distorted Humor
won at a mile and was third in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II). Shaun Bridgmohan is the rider.
Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III), Keeneland, 4:45 EDT
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1 Noble Causeway 117 Jeremy Rose
2 Alumni Hall 117 Robby Albarado
3 Cosmonaut 121 Julien R. Leparoux
4 It's No Joke 117 Shaun Bridgmohan
5 Palladio 117 Rafael Bejarano
6 Wanderin Boy 117 Javier Castellano