04/21/2002 12:00AM

Duckhorn best in Ben Ali


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Taking full advantage of a scenario that so often favors front-runners, Duckhorn splashed his way to an easy wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the 72nd running of the $103,984 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland.

With Jorge Chavez riding for owner Michael Tabor and trainer Pat Byrne, Duckhorn held a huge advantage by the time the field of four older horses hit the backstretch. He was never threatened thereafter, winning the Grade 3 race by seven lengths over Parade Leader. Connected was another 9 1/2 lengths back in third, with San Pedro trailing. Invisible Ink was scratched because of the sloppy track conditions.

"He was by himself on the lead and running very easily," said Chavez, who won two races earlier on the Sunday card. "This is the easiest money I've made all day."

Duckhorn, a 5-year-old Maryland-bred by Not for Love, returned $3.40 to win as the heavy favorite after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.18. Parade Leader, the 2-1 second choice, ended an exacta worth a mere $7.40.