Team Valor International's Howe Great, the 2012 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) victor whose last win came in the July 21 Jersey Derby, took a strong Keeneland allowance race on turf April 6.
Al Khali, the 2-1 favorite in the field of seven, ran fifth while Turallure, the 2011 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (gr. IT) victor, finished sixth (VIDEO) .
"This is going to be a really fun horse this year," trainer Graham Motion said of the 4-year-old son of Hat Trick, who held on by half a length over 36-1 shot Middie. "He has stepped up to a new level."
This was likely the last start by Howe Great for Motion after Team Valor announced April 5 that its horses will be turned over to Rick Mettee May 1.
Howe Great's only other start of 2013 was a seventh in the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park
. He improved his record to 6-3-1 from 13 starts when ridden to victory at odds of 5-1 by Alan Garcia, making a three-wide bid after tracking the pace set by grade II winner Air Support
Four D Stables' homebred Turallure, the 5-2 second choice who had not raced since a fourth in the July 1 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs
, stalked the pace in third in the 1 1/8-mile turf event but tired when asked for run by jockey Julien Leparoux. The 6-year-old son of Wando
was also slightly rank and checked repeatedly through the first turn, then leveled into stride under a firm hold before faltering at the head of the stretch.
"He ran good, just when they kicked for home he got tired," trainer Charlie LoPresti said. "But that was a building block."
Howe Great returned $13.20, $8.40, and $5.40 while Middie paid $24 and $8.40. Air Support paid $4.80 after finishing a nose back in third. Sky Blazer
, Al Khali
, Turallure, and Forte Dei Marmi
completed the order of finish.
Howe Great was bred in Kentucky by Barry Irwin out of the Western Winter mare Ginger Sea. He completed the distance over firm turf in 1:47.89.