Updated on 09/17/2011 10:17PM

Alumni Hall gets first graded win

Bill Straus
Alumni Hall wins his first graded stakes race in the $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes on Thursday at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Winning a graded stakes race for the first time at age 6 might not seem like much of an achievement, but considering that Alumni Hall did not even get to the races until he was 5, and has a pedigree that should serve him well as a stallion prospect, his victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 on Thursday at Keeneland was cause for celebration.

Alumni Hall ($8.40) stalked the pace of Ole Faunty for the first five furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile race, took the lead just before six furlongs were completed, then safely held off a determined bid by Pies Prospect in the stretch to win by two lengths on a rainy, chilly afternoon.

Pies Prospect finished 8 1/2 lengths in front of Go Now. Colonial Colony was fourth and was followed, in order, by Ole Faunty, Best Minister, Niigon, and Formal Attire, who was pulled up in the final sixteenth with an injured suspensory.

Alumni Hall, who was ridden by Robby Albarado, was timed in 1:51.29 over a track that was rated fast despite the conditions.

"It took awhile for him to come around, but we've always been high on him," trainer Neil Howard said.

Alumni Hall, a son of A.P. Indy, won for the seventh time in 15 starts. He had won two listed stakes previously. He most recently won a money-allowance race at Keeneland, a track at which he has now won three times in four starts.

Howard has now won the Ben Ali three straight years, and four times in the last seven years. His two most-recent winners were Mineshaft and Midway Road, both of whom went on to win races such as the Pimlico Special and Stephen Foster, but Howard seemed inclined to shoot for smaller game for now.

"We'll nominate him for all the appropriate races, Grade 3, Grade 2," he said. "I'd love to win a Grade 1 with him."