10/26/2011 3:49PM

Keeneland: Mutually Benefit a threat for Proctor


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Tom Proctor already has had the most productive year of his career with stable earnings of more than $3.1 million, but that’s not to say all has gone perfectly. Early this month he lost one of his best-ever horses, Banned, to a breakdown that ultimately proved fatal, and it’s not like he wins with everything he runs: At the 17-day Keeneland meet that ends Saturday, Proctor had won with just 2 of his first 20 starters.

Overall, however, Proctor is his usual larger-than-life jovial self, and if you happen upon him in the Churchill Downs stable area or at the races, chances are it will be in mid-sentence. Like most anyone else, the 55-year-old trainer is happiest and chattiest in the afterglow of victory, as he was on opening day at Keeneland when a 4-year-old Dynaformer filly named Mutually Benefit reported home promptly as a front-running 6-5 favorite in a second-level turf allowance.

“This filly’s come around pretty well this year,” said Proctor. “The speed she’s started showing, that’s just the way she’s come along. She wants to run.”

Proctor now seeks to bookend his Keeneland meet with Mutually Benefit, a Glen Hill Farm colorbearer who will take part in the nominal Friday feature, a $56,000, third-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Julien Leparoux, well on his way to a seventh Keeneland meet title, retains the call for Proctor in the ninth of 10 Friday races.

Mutually Benefit took six races to get her first career victory in April, and since then, she has shown keen interest in all her races while posting consistent Beyer Speed Figures in the low- to mid-80’s range. Those numbers make her an obvious threat in an otherwise well-matched field that includes such stakes-seasoned performers as Bet On the Blue, Happy Henrietta, It’s Tea Time, Tiger Girl, and Bella Medaglia. Fourteen are entered, although only as many as 12 can start.

Two other allowances also are carded for Friday. In race 7, Mike Trombetta runs back Lighthouse Sound off a sharp runner-up finish in a similar second-level turf route from opening weekend, while race 8 is just the type of scramble that Keeneland horseplayers have enjoyed throughout this meet, with a wide-open cast of 3-year-olds and upward clashing in a $52,000, first-level, seven-furlong event over Polytrack.

First post Friday is 1:15 p.m. Eastern. While there is a late pick four (races 7-10), there is no pool guarantee as there was for the first three Fridays of the meet. Keeneland hosts its final card Saturday, with Churchill starting Sunday.