William Farish picked up his third straight win the in $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) when Alumni Hall held off favored Pies Prospect in the stretch on a gloomy, damp afternoon at Keeneland. Ridden by Robby Albarado, Alumni Hall triumphed by two lengths, covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.29 over a track that was rated "fast."
Farish, James A. Elkins Jr., and W. Temple Webber Jr. bred Alumni Hall and race him together. The same three men bred and raced the 2003 Ben Ali winner and Horse of the Year Mineshaft
. Midway Road, a Farish homebred, captured the 2004 Ben Ali in track record time of 1:46.78.
Neil Howard saddled all three of Farish's Ben Ali winners, and Albarado rode them all.
"He's been a wonderful horse," said Howard of Alumni Hall, who scored the first graded win of his career. "It took him awhile to come around, but we were always high on him. "We'll keep him eligible for all the appropriate races -- grade IIIs, grade IIs. We'd love to win a grade I with him, but who wouldn't?"
A 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy
, Alumni Hall pressed the Ben Ali pace, set by Ole Faunty, before blowing past that rival in the final turn. Pies Prospect rallied late, but couldn't catch Alumni Hall, who was in a steady drive under Albarado's left-handed whipping.
"He broke real sharp and got himself into position," Albarado said. "He really ran better than he needed to. He's a very nice horse."
Go Now finished third, 8 1/2 lengths behind Pie's Prospect.
With his Ben Ali win, Alumni Hall improved his career record to seven victories in 15 races. He came into the Ben Ali off of a half-length win over Best Minister in a 1 1/16-mile allowance event on April 9 at Keeneland. Best Minister was sixth in the Ben Ali. Pies Prospect had finished fifth in the April 9 allowance.
Alumni Hall paid $8.40 to win in the Ben Ali, which was being run for the 75th time.