Thomas Van Meter II's Be Gentle took the early lead under Cornelio Velasquez and never looked back, romping to a decisive 5 1/2-length victory Friday in the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland Racecourse.
"The cool thing about winning this race is that my wife's great-grandfather (Keeneland founder Hal Price Headley, owner of the race's namesake Alcibiades) couldn't be more thrilled," Van Meter said.
The 2-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat trained by D. Wayne Lukas seet moderate fractions of :23, :47 2/5, and 1:12 1/5 through the first three-quarters of a mile as she was stalked by Whirlwind Charlott and Lokoya. As the field entered the stretch, Deb's Charm, Lokoya, and Galloping Gal advanced into stalking positions but could not gain on the winner who strode out to stop the timer in 1:45 2/5 for 1 1/16 miles.
"A lot of people didn't think she would go this far but I told Tom Van Meter that they'd better have their running shoes on because she's been training unbelievably," Lukas said. "Cornelio rode her exactly like I told him to."
The 3-2 favorite in the seven-horse field, Be Gentle paid $5.00, $3.60, and $3.00. Galloping Gal finished second, returning $8.20 and $5.00, with Deb's Charm worth $3.80.
The victory, worth $248,000, was the third in five career starts for Be Gentle, who broke her maiden by a widening eight lengths and then won the Debutante (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in her first two starts. Those efforts were followed by a fifth-place finish in the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. II) and and second in the Spinaway (gr. I), two Saratoga races won by Ashado. She has earned $380,478.
Produced from the Risen Star mare Gentleilstar, Be Gentle was bred in Virginia by Mrs. Nellie M. Cox and Rose Retreat Farm.