Exhi and Javier Castellano take the Ben Ali at Keeneland.<br><a target="blank" href="http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/photo-store?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fpictopia.com%2Fperl%2Fgal%3Fprovider_id%3D368%26ptp_photo_id%3D9500899%26ref%3Dstory">Order This Photo</a>

Exhi and Javier Castellano take the Ben Ali at Keeneland.
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Mathea Kelley

Exhi Makes Easy Work of Ben Ali

Colt returns from a six-month layoff and wires the field April 23 at Keeneland.

Wertheimer and Frere’s Kentucky homebred Exhi  had no problem returning from his six-month layoff, as he took a short field wire-to-wire in the $150,000 Ben Ali (gr. III) (VIDEO) April 23 for his second graded stakes win at Keeneland.

The son of Maria's Mon went easy splits of :25.15, :49.25, and 1:12.82 before shaking off Dean's Kitten in the stretch and bounding home to a 1 3/4-length victory under Javier Castellano. He completed 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack in 1:48.14.
Dean’s Kitten held second, while Mister Marti Gras got up late for third in the field of five.
"I knew he was the only speed and he broke really sharp," Castellano said. "They let us walk the first part of it and the pace was comfortable. When I asked him, he just responded."
Exhi scored the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) last April at Keeneland during a streak in which he won four consecutive stakes. He finished second in the Greenbrier Fayette (gr. II) last October over the same track in his final start of 2010. The 4-year-old colt improved to 6-4-1 from 11 starts. He is trained by Todd Pletcher.
Exhi has now earned $800,382.
"It was one of those rare occasions when things work out the way you want," Pletcher said. "The race shaped up just the way it looked on paper. We will probably try to stay on the synthetics; maybe look at something at Woodbine."
Sent off as the 7-10 favorite, Exhi paid $3.40, $2.60, and $2.10. The exacta (3-4) returned $10.20 and the trifecta (3-4-5) was worth $36.
Researcher finished fourth, followed by Stay Put.