Updated on 09/17/2011 3:02PM

Alumni Hall, 5, scores in first stakes attempt

Benoit Photo
Alumni Hall wins the $75,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington Park on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Now that Alumni Hall has made the racing scene, he means to make his mark. A 5-year-old who did not race until this past spring, Alumni Hall aced his first stakes test Saturday at Arlington Park, easily winning the $75,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap over six opponents.

And they were overmatched opponents. Alumni Hall had raced only four times, and his most recent win had come in a short, suspect field in a second-level allowance race. But the betting public pounced on the horse, sending him off at odds of 3-5, and at the quarter pole, Alumni Hall pounced on early leaders Fighting Indians and Stratostar, opening up a clear lead in the final furlong as he drew off to a 2 1/2-length win over Wiggins. Stratostar held third, followed by Scooter Roach, Act of War, River Mountain Rd, and Fighting Indians, who had opened up a big lead through an opening half-mile in 47.46 seconds and three-quarters in 1:11.85. Alumni Hall, a brother to Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.46 and paid $3.20 to win.

Bred and owned by Will Farish, James Elkins, and Temple Webber, Alumni Hall "was cut out to be a nice horse," said trainer Neil Howard. But a series of physical problems postponed his career debut again and again.

"He's been through a lot," Howard said.

Indeed, though lightly raced, Alumni Hall has attributes of an older horse.

"You've got to get aggressive with him," said Robby Albarado, who rode Alumni Hall. "He doesn't turn it on like a younger horse. But when he understands it, he gives it to you."

Alumni Hall surely will make his next start in a graded stakes race, but whether it is the Washington Park here, or the Saratoga Breeders' Cup or the Whitney Handicap in New York will be determined in the coming weeks, Howard said.