Breeder/owner William S. Farish will be seeking his third-straight win in the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) Thursday at Keeneland Race Course with his 4-year-old colt Alumni Hall. In 2003 Farish won the 1 1/8-mile event for older horses with eventual Horse of the Year, Mineshaft, owned in partnership with W.T. Webber Jr. and J.A. Elkins Jr. In 2004 his Midway Road won by an impressive 11 3/4 lengths, while setting a stakes record of 1:46.78 for the distance. Robby Albarado, who was aboard for both of those victories, will guide Alumni Hall from post four.
Alumni Hall enters the Ben Ali fresh off a victory in an April 9 allowance race over the track. Trained by Neil Howard, the son of A.P. Indy
will be seeking his first graded victory. Alumni Hall won the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap at Houston in his first start this season.
Grade II winner Pies Prospect is another class act in the field of eight for Thursday's feature. Trained by Nick Zito, the meet's second leading trainer, the 4-year-old son of Crafty Prospector
enters the race off a fifth-place finish behind Alumni Hall April 9. Pies Prospect, who was second in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) March 5, will break from post two under jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Robert LaPenta owns Pies Prospect, who won three stakes in 2004, including the Pegasus (gr. III) and the Fred Hooper Handicap (gr. III). Also sporting LaPenta's gold and maroon silks will be Go Now. Also trained by Zito, the colt will break from the outside under jockey Larry Melancon.
Chiefswood Stables's Niigon, winner of the 2004 Queen's Plate Stakes in Canada, will try the dirt after two starts this season on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Eric Coatrieux, the 4-year-old son of the late Unbridled will break from post six under jockey Brice Blanc.
From position three, Chris Nolan's Colonial Colony will hope to recapture the form that led him to victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) last June. Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III), $150,000, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 4-year-olds and up, estimated post time: 4:45 p.m.
Post -- Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 -- Ole Faunty, 117, John R. Velazquez
2 -- Pies Prospect, 123, Rafael Bejarano
3 -- Colonial Colony, 117, Javier Castellano
4 -- Alumni Hall, 121, Robby Albarado
5 -- Best Minister, 117, Gary L. Stevens
6 -- Niigon, 117, Brice Blanc
7 -- Formal Attire, 117, Edgar S. Prado
8 -- Go Now, 117, Larry Melancon