Eagle rallies to catch Noble Bird, earns first graded win in Ben Ali

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April 16th, 2016

William S. Farish’s homebred Eagle continued his upward trajectory in the handicap ranks on Saturday, running down loose-on-the-lead paceseter Noble Bird in deep stretch of the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland. The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride recorded his first graded stakes victory with the 1 ¼-length decision and Brian Hernandez Jr. was up on the Neil Howard-trained colt.

Noble Bird, last year’s Stephen Foster (G1) winner, sped forward at the break and was clear by about three lengths as he made his way down the backstretch, establishing splits in :23.58, :47.76 and 1:11.86. Eagle dropped back to seventh in the early stages but advanced along the rail to take closer order after the opening quarter-mile.

The pacesetter turned for home on a comfortable lead, but Eagle swung out wide for the stretch drive and gradually began to wear down his rival. Eagle collared Noble Bird in the latter stages and won going away under the wire, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.57.

“We had a beautiful trip,” Hernandez said. “Neil, Mr. Farish and the whole team did a great job having him ready for us. We got lucky and were able to follow the fence the whole way. When we turned for home, Noble Bird sprinted away from us, but our little horse dug in, laid his life on the line and ran him down. He had to run hard to run him down, but he got the job done for us.”

“It was a great ride and it was a great effort by the colt,” Howard added. “He’s a result of what these people do on (Farish’s) Lane’s End Farm every day.”

Now 3-for-3 on Keeneland’s main track, Eagle was favored at 2-1 among eight runners.

Noble Bird, the 3-1 second choice, easily held second by 4 ¾ lengths over Breaking Lucky, who rallied to edge Doyouknowsomething by a neck for third. Neck ‘n Neck, General A Rod, Hawaakom and J S Bach completed the order of finish.

Eagle was exiting a troubled fourth (elevated one spot to third by the stewards) in the March 26 New Orleans H. (G2) at Fair Grounds and has now earned $395,406 from a 13-6-3-2 record.

The chestnut concluded 2015 on a three-race win skein, capped by his first stakes tally in the listed Tenacious at Fair Grounds on December 19, and opened this season with a pair of runner-up finishes in the Louisiana and Mineshaft H. (G3) at the New Orleans track.

The May 6 Alysheba (G2) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs is a possible target the Kentucky-bred.

Eagle is the first stakes winner out of the winning Mineshaft mare Sea Gull and this is the extended female family of multiple Grade 2 winner and sire Mt. Livermore.

Photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography