BEN ALI STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8- MILES
Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' Frac Daddy returned to Keeneland and returned to winning ways April 19, taking the $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes at the Lexington oval.
Trained by Ken McPeek, the 4-year-old son of Scat Daddy raced close to the pace set by Red Rifle in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack event, and took over with a powerful move on the final turn to widen away down the length of the stretch.
"The trip was very easy; he broke good and was right outside of the speed," jockey Alan Garcia said. "He was in control all the way to the top of stretch and when I asked him to take off, he did it so easy, such an impressive horse. Kenny McPeek did a great job to get him back here today."
It was the first win for Frac Daddy since an Oct. 17 allowance event on the Keeneland Polytrack, which he aced by 3 1/2 lengths going the Ben Ali distance. He came into the Ben Ali against nine other older horses off a runner-up finish in his season debut, the March 1 Maxxam Gold Cup Stakes at Sam Houston, after closing out his 3-year-old year with a second in the Nov. 16 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Frac Daddy has been highly regarded all along by his connections, who purchased him for $50,000 from the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2011 from the Eaton Sales consignment. The gray colt turned in runner-up finishes in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes as a 2-year-old and in the Arkansas Derby at 3 before eventually running 16th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and 14th and last of all in the Belmont Stakes.
"He's been an extremely talented horse from the beginning, but mentally he was a little fragile," McPeek said. "I think the Derby was a little tough on him, and the older he's getting, the better he's getting."
Frac Daddy showed no signs of fragility in the Ben Ali, applying well-measured pressure to Red Rifle behind splits of :25.02, :49.68, and 1:13.52 before kicking off through a mile in 1:37.44 en route to a 4 3/4-length score. Final time was 1:49.61 on the fast main track.
"He's been training freaky good lately," McPeek said. "Now that there's not going to be any Polytrack here, I'm not sure what we'll do with him, but we'll figure it out."
Off at odds of 5-1, Frac Daddy returned $13.20, $6.80, and $5 while runner-up Stealcase brought $13.20 and $9.60. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Nikki's Sandcastle, who closed to get the show by 2 1/4 lengths over favored Newsdad. Farhaan, Joha, Winning Cause, Norumbega, Red Rifle, and Hattaash completed the order of finish.
Frac Daddy was bred in Kentucky by the Nancy M. Leonard Living Trust out of the Skip Away mare Skipper's Mate. The Ben Ali victory improved his record to four wins and five seconds from 14 starts for earnings of $515,280.