01/31/2007 1:00AM

Student Council could give connections another Ben Ali


Will Farish and trainer Neil Howard have won the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland four times in the last six years, and might have developed another candidate last Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park when Student Council won his first stakes in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup. The race is the same one that Alumni Hall, owned in partnership by Farish and trained by Howard, won in 2005 prior to winning the Ben Ali.

"I think I could go out on a limb and say we'd like to probably give him a chance in the Ben Ali at Keeneland this spring," Howard said of Student Council. "He's 2 out of 3 on Polytrack. But that's down the road a little bit."

Student Council jogged at his Fair Grounds base on Wednesday in his first day back to the track since the Maxxam.

"We're very pleased with him, and we're just going to try and be careful in choosing his next race," said Howard. "He seemed to put it all together the other night, and we were nothing less than thrilled."

Howard said upcoming options for Student Council include handicaps at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn Park, including the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 10, the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn on March 9, and the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 7.

* Howard said he plans to nominate Grade 2 winner Brilliant to the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, a 1 1/8-mile grass race to be run at Sam Houston on April 7.