The 4-5 favorite in his first start since winning the Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs in November, Wise Dan broke from post 6 and pulled jockey John Velazquez to the lead after the first quarter-mile of the race for 4-year-olds and older horses. The gelding was never challenged as he widened his lead at every call. His time of 1:46.63 bested Carriage Trail’s track record of 1:46.77 set in 2008 and Midway Road’s stakes record of 1:46.78 from 2004.
Wise Dan paid $3.60, $3 and $2.60. Finishing second was Big Blue Kitten, ridden by Javier Castellano, who paid $5.40 and $3.80. Guys Reward, with Corey Lanerie aboard, was third and returned $6.20.
Cease ran fourth, and was followed in order by Eye of the Leopard, Ioya Bigtime and Rogue Romance.
Winner of the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland last October, Wise Dan is a half brother to Grade 2 winner Successful Dan, who won a Keeneland allowance race on April 6 in his 2012 debut. With the Ben Ali victory, Wise Dan improved his career record to nine wins in 15 starts and earnings of $1,009,601. He is expected to make his next start in the Stephen Foster (G1) at Churchill on June 16.
Sunday was Military Appreciation Day at Keeneland, and the seven starters in the Ben Ali wore camouflage saddle towels. Wise Dan’s saddle towel will be signed by Keeneland’s jockeys and auctioned by USA Cares to help provide financial and advocacy assistance to post-9/11 active-duty United States military service personnel, veterans and their families.
Three days remain in Keeneland’s 15-day spring meet. Racing resumes Wednesday with a nine-race program that begins at 1:05 p.m. (ET). The season concludes on Friday.