Updated on 09/17/2011 10:39PM

Alumni Hall scores for Howard

Bill Straus
Alumni Hall wins the Grade 3, $150,000 Fayette Handicap at Keeneland on Saturday.

Neil Howard is making a habit out of training horses that excel over the Keeneland main track. In 2002-04, the Howard-trained Midway Road was unbeatable for him there, and now Alumni Hall is almost as untouchable.

On Saturday, Alumni Hall demonstrated that fondness for the Keeneland strip by winning the Grade 3, $150,000 - a race that his stablemate Midway Road had won a year earlier. The victory pushed Alumni Hall's Keeneland record to 4 for 5.

Alumni Hall didn't win in the manner that so many do at Keeneland - by demonstrating inside speed. He rallied from midpack, circling four wide on the second turn to take command from 38-1 longshot On Thin Ice, who had tried to move with the winner.

Alumni Hall inched away in the stretch to score by a half-length over On Thin Ice, with the 2003 Fayette winner, M B Sea, two lengths back in third in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Alumni Hall did not always look the part of the winner. When he and On Thin Ice moved past early leader Mambo Train, who had set the pace with fractions of 47.71 seconds and 1:12.22, their move appeared premature, especially with M B Sea launching a bold rally in early stretch. But M B Sea hung badly in the final furlong, leaving Alumni Hall and On Thin Ice to decide the outcome.

Alumni Hall, a 6-year-old son of A.P. Indy and a brother to 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status, won for the ninth time in 19 starts. The Fayette was his second graded stakes victory.

He raced 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:51.37, paying $6 as the close second betting choice in the field of nine. Calvin Borel rode the winner, who is owned by Will Farish, James Elkins, and Temple Webber.

Shaniko, the Kentucky Cup Classic winner, ran last as the slight favorite.