Champali and the nation's leading rider by wins, Rafael Bejarano, won the Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) by three-quarters of a length at Keeneland Friday.
The Phoenix is one of two stakes run at the track on opening day at the Lexington track, the other being the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) for juvenile fillies.
The top sprinter so far of the meet is Champali, a son of Glitterman
who won for the 11th time in 20 starts and became a millionaire in the process.
Owned by Lloyd Madison Farms and trained by Greg Foley, Champali was sitting in third as they field turned for home off quick early fractions and he eased by on the outside under a hard ride for the victory.
"I saw three horses in the front so I just sat off the pace and when my horse changed leads at the quarter pole he kicked on," Bejarano said.
Gold Storm immediately went up to engage Hosco out of the gate and two went the opening quarter in :21 and the half in :43 4/5. The final time was 1:08.72.
Gold Storm couldn't hold off Champali's late surge but held off Clock Stopper by a neck for the place.
"I would love to hook up with the winner again," said Larry Taylor, who rode Gold Storm. "My horse is such a tough horse and on the backside he was trying so hard."
Taylor said Gold Storm's trainer, Bubba Cascio, said the Seeking the Gold
4-year-old would go to the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Connections for Champali were leaning that way as well after the race, but said they would wait before making a final decision.
Champali paid $10, $5.20, and $3.20. Gold Storm held on for second and returned $6 and $3.60. Clock Stopper, favored at 9-5, was third and paid $2.40.
"The horse has had some bad luck and around the eighth pole he hesitated," said Dallas Stewart, trainer of Clock Stopper. "I said before the race that he didn't have to win today to go on to the Breeders' Cup and he didn't do anything today to change my mind."
The winner was bred in Kentucky by McKee Stables and sold as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale for $75,000. The 4-year-old colt is out of the Dixieland Band
Super Fuse and Wildcat Heir finished in a deadheat for fourth, followed by Coach Jimi Lee, Private Horde, Arbitrate, Canadian Frontier, Deer Lake and Hosco.