04/18/2009 11:00PM

Parading wins Ben Ali at Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes was billed as a matchup of Keeneland Polytrack specialists, drawing Monba and Domincan, respective winners of the 2008 and 2007 Bluegrass Stakes, and Sterwins, the 2008 Ben Ali winner. But in the end, Parading - a horse who had never started on a synthetic track - proved the clear winner before a rain-soaked crowd of 10,127 at Keeneland.

Breaking from the outside post in a field of seven, Parading was wide early, fifth as the field hit the first turn with an opening quarter in 23.90 seconds.

He wouldn't stay in that position for long. Down the backstretch, jockey Kent Desormeaux let Parading run freely, and the horse took command with a half-mile in 47.42 seconds and six furlongs in 1:11.99.

With Desormeaux sitting chilly around the final turn turn, the horse quickly left the opposition far behind once called up on the stretch, drawing off to a 7 1/2-length victory over 43-1 longshot Your Round.

"I thought he'd be more comfortable if I cleared him, and he was," Desormeaux said of Parading's decisive backstretch move.

The winner, a 6-year-old son of Pulpit owned and bred by Phipps Stable, raced 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack in 1:47.82, the fastest of three Ben Ali Stakes run since Keeneland installed Polytrack. He paid $12.40.

Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said that he had wanted to try Parading on the Polytrack for a while. Parading had raced predominantly on turf in his 15 prior starts.

"The Phipps horses are stayers, grinders - they like the Polytrack," McGaughey said.

Monba, the 7-5 favorite, rallied from last to be third, a half-length behind runner-up Your Round and a head in front of fourth-place Dominican. Sterwins, Grasshopper, and Adriano completed the order of finish.