Radar Racing's Rated R Superstar provided a bit of an upset in Saturday's Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland, posting a 6-1 victory over the 9-5 favorite Chip Leader. The 5-year-old son of Kodiak Kowboy was at the rear of the field behind a mile pace, but Javier Castellano sent him after the leader in the lane and hit the wire about two lengths in front. Trained by Ken McPeek, Rated R Superstar completed nine furlongs over Keeneland's fast main track in 1:49.31.
“I thought the six horse (favored Chip Leader) was going to be the pace to the race and it looked like the others were going to contest him at some point, whether it was early or in the middle,” McPeek said. “I have to give a lot of credit to Paul Parker (managing partner for owner Radar Racing). We've been working together with this (gelding) since he was a 2-year-old; there were times we had to wait on him a little bit. His running style was kind of problematic. He actually won a nice stakes (the 2016 Carry Back-G3 at Gulfstream Park) as a 3-year-old. Paul lets us do what we have to do. It's a lot of fun to do this for a great group of people.”
It was the fourth victory in the race for Castellano, who previously won with Wanderin Boy (2006), Exhi (2011) and Protonico (2015). It was the second win for McPeek, who scored in 2014 with Frac Daddy.
Chip Leader rocketed to the front under John Velazquez and set fractions of :24.22, :48.19 and 1:12.77 as Rated R Superstar raced at the back of the pack.
Castellano began picking off horses on the far turn, swung widest of all entering the stretch, gradually wore down Chip Leader and pulled away in the final 100 yards to win by two lengths.
Rated R Superstar returned $14.60, $5 and $3.40. Chip Leader returned $3.80 and $2.80 and finished 5½ lengths in front of Guest Suite, who paid $3.80 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr.
It was another two lengths back to Giuseppe the Great,who was fourth and followed in order by Aurora Way, Hollywood Handsome and Rafting.
Bred in Kentucky by Thorndale Stable, Rated R Superstar has now won a pair of graded stakes events. His overall record stands at 5-5-5 from 24 starts, with earnings of just under $500,000.
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