Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' Frac Daddy blew away nine rivals to win the 84th running of the $150,000 Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland on Saturday by 4 3/4 lengths. The 2011 Keeneland sales graduate tracked pace-setting Red Rifle to the middle of the far turn, where he took command and then drew off unopposed to complete the 1 1/8 miles on the main track in 1:49.61.
Now undefeated in two starts on Polytrack, Frac Daddy boosted his record to 14-4-5-0 and hiked his earnings to $515,280 with Saturday's $90,000 check.
Ridden by Alan Garcia and trained by Ken McPeek, Frac Daddy is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy out of the Skip Away mare Skipper's Mate.
Frac Daddy returned $13.20, $6.80 and $5. Stealcase, ridden by Stewart Elliott, rallied to finish second and pay $13.20 and $9.60 while finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Nikki's Sandcastle, who paid $6.60 to show under Corey Lanerie.
Favored Newsdad finished another 2¼ lengths back and was followed in order by Farhaan, Joha, Winning Cause, Norumbega, Red Rifle and Hattaash.
Quotes from connections:
Ken McPeek (winning trainer of Frac Daddy): “He's been training freaky good lately. From the beginning, he's been an extremely talented horse but mentally he was a horse that was a little fragile. I think the (Kentucky) Derby (G1) was a little tough on him because of the big field and it came up muddy, but the older he's getting, the better he's getting obviously.
“I wish (co-owner) Carter Stewart was here. He's owner of (Grade 1 Travers winner) Golden Ticket, too. He loves doing this, and I told him two weeks ago if we run in the Ben Ali, 'You better get your tail to Keeneland – he's going to win there.'
On whether Frac Daddy might race on the dirt at Churchill Downs
“I don't know about that. Actually may shift him back to the grass if there aren't any Polytrack races available, and they're going to be slim. So I don't know what I'm going to do with him this fall – we'll worry about that later.”
Alan Garcia (winning rider): “Trip was very easy. He broke good, real sharp, right beside the speed. He was in control all the way to the top of the stretch. When I asked a couple of times, he took off. He was so easy to rate. He's an impressive horse. Kenny (McPeek) did an excellent job with this one.”
Stewart Elliott (rider of runner-up Stealcase): “I had a good trip. My horse ran a great race. The winner just took off. It was my first time (riding Stealcase) and he is a very nice horse, but the winner was a little too much today.”
Corey Lanerie (rider of third-place finisher Nikki's Sandcastle): “My horse broke really good and then settled in for me nicely. The pace was a little slow. I was stuck behind 'em and just had to wait for some running room. When I asked my horse, he came running and ran well.”
Joel Rosario (rider of fourth-place finisher and beaten 3-1 favorite Newsdad): “We were a little farther back than what I thought we were going to be. I know he likes to come from off the pace but (the field) was getting away from me so I had to ride him a little to keep him in the race. He finished after that; he was coming. I didn't think they were going that fast; I just couldn't get him any closer than that, but he finished.”
Rodolphe Brisset (assistant to Bill Mott, trainer of Newsdad): “The horse put himself a little too far back, and Joel (Rosario) said he never really got him in the right rhythm. He made up ground, but we didn't have any pace to run at. When you go :25, :49 and change on this race track, it's very difficult to make up ground. We know this is his running style, but maybe on the Poly he doesn't have the same turn of foot he showed on the turf last time (in the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream).”
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