Winning for the fifth time in a row, all stakes, Benny the Bull punched his ticket to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, as the Smile Sprint is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.
Now a four-time group or graded stakes winner, Benny the Bull increased his earnings to more than $2.2 million for his career. He is trained by Rick Dutrow Jr.
“We know (horses) are not machines. If anything, Big Brown has taught us that, but this horse comes close,” said IEAH Stables’ managing partner Mike Iavarone, who also owns Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Big Brown. “I think this is our third grade I win since the Belmont and it helps take the sting out of that day. I guess from here, ‘Benny’ will go on to the Forego at Saratoga and then on to the Breeders’ Cup in California.”
In seventh place after a half-mile, Benny the Bull began his charge around the turn and had dead aim at Blue Pepsi Lodge, who took a 1 1/2-length advantage into the stretch. Also in contention were How’s Your Halo along the rail and Rockerfeller, who was four-wide and in perfect striking position under Javier Santiago.
Swung out by Prado for the stretch drive, Benny the Bull gained the lead at the eighth-pole and edged away for a comfortable win. How’s Your Halo, a 50-1 longshot, did well to get second under Juan Leyva, a length in front of Rockerfeller. Ravalo was fourth. The final time for six furlongs on a fast main track was 1:11.41.
“He impresses me every time I ride him,” said Prado, who also rode Benny the Bull to victories in the grade I Frank De Francis Memorial Dash and group I Dubai Golden Shaheen. “Today he broke pretty sharp and then he just kind of falls out of the race and makes me think he’s not getting a hold of the track. But that’s the way he runs and when you let him wait and start to get after him he just takes off. He seems like he is overcoming a lot to win, but he knows what he is doing and he finds a way to get there first and win.”
Bred in Florida by Tomoka Farms, Benny the Bull is out of the Birdonthewire mare Comet Cat. He is now 9-1-2 from 17 starts.
Going off as the favorite in a field of nine, the winner paid $4.60, $3.40 and $2.10. The exacta (8-2) returned $126.60, while the trifecta (8-2-9) was worth $351.