How to bet the 2022 Ben Ali Stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 21st, 2022

A talented and well-matched field of eight will run 1 1/8 miles on the Keeneland dirt in Saturday’s $300,000 Ben Ali S. (G3). The co-feature of the afternoon attracted a group where a case can be made for every horse signed on, and I will focus on a pair of contenders in the top slot of my wagers.

There is not an abundance of pace in the tilt, which will aid Josie Carroll’s #2 Mighty Heart (9-2) in his first run of the season. The dual Canadian classic winner has proven to be more than capable of carrying his speed on both the turf and All-Weather, though I like him best on the conventional main surfaces. The Dramedy five-year-old ran a good third last spring in his lone start over the Keeneland oval, and I believe that nine furlongs might be his best distance.

Mighty Heart hails from a fine barn and can fire off the bench, which I am expecting on Saturday. James Graham will be in the silks and could lead this cast all the way on the front end if able to secure a clear edge early on.

The rapidly improving #7 Scalding (5-1) lacks the credentials of most of his counterparts in the race, but the Shug McGaughey pupil appears poised to be a major presence in the field, nonetheless. The Nyquist colt has improved his Brisnet Speed figure in each career start to date, and he proved to be especially game in his Challenger S. (G3) score at Tampa Bay Downs most recently. Scalding has early foot and will track the tempo from a forwardly placed position in his Keeneland debut with regular pilot Javier Castellano in for the voyage.

For the vertical exotics at least a trio of horses have to be included. Godolphin homebred #3 Proxy (7-2) flashed plenty of potential at three and he might be better this season for trainer Michael Stidham. The Tapit colt was a facile allowance winner in his four-year-old debut, prior to finishing a clear runner-up behind the stout Olympiad last time out in the New Orleans Classic S. (G2). Brian Hernandez will guide the consistently good colt.

#5 Warrant (2-1) just missed in the Santa Anita H. (G1) most recently and has never missed the board in his nine-race career for trainer Brad Cox. The Constitution four-year-old will track the tempo early with Flavien Prat in the stirrups. And 2021 Wood Memorial S. (G1) runner-up #4 Dynamic One (4-1) showed life when a rallying third in the Challenger S. (G3) in his seasonal bow, with obvious room for improvement in his second off the shelf in this spot. Irad Ortiz riding adds to his appeal.

Ben Ali Wagers

  • $2 trifecta 2, 7 with 2, 3, 7 with 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 ($24)
  • 50-cent trifecta 2, 7 with 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 with all ($24)