2023 Ben Ali Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. PIONEER OF MEDINA (7-2) – Rebounded well from a poor showing here last October to win two of his next three, with a solid showing against Skippylongstocking sandwiched in between; simply might have bounced in the New Orleans Classic (G2) after such a hard race in the Mineshaft (G3), but presumably capable of better and he should save all the ground and get one of the first cracks at the speed breaking to his right.

2. TRADEMARK (6-1) – An interesting candidate as he’s won over track and distance before and has the positional speed to be in the mix early; likely in need of his latest at Tampa, and note he’s never been too fond of that track anyway; minuses include his general stakes form, which leaves a lot to be desired, and that his breakout came in a small-field, off-the-turf edition of the Commonwealth Turf S. last November.

3. CALL ME FAST (20-1) – A poor introduction to stakes company in the Essex H. (G3) last time when off slow; probably capable of better, especially if better able to show his natural early foot, but he’s not the only one in here with a bit of pace and he still has a lot of class questions to answer; deservingly the longest shot.

4. SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING (7-5) – Very good at his best, but has thrown the occasional clunker since last summer, such as the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and Pegasus World Cup (G1); while he doesn’t face that kind of competition here, this field has a bit more depth than some of his stronger efforts, like the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and Challenger (G3); wouldn’t mind a little moisture in the track if remnants of the morning rain stick around; seemingly the one to beat, though price will be unattractive if this low.

5. RATTLE N ROLL (3-1) – Although it no longer shows on the past performances, recall this colt was a convincing winner of the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) here at two; took him until the second half of his three-year-old campaign to take that step forward, but turned in two very nice stakes wins late in the season; marathon try two back was too far, but comeback in the New Orleans Classic a good try, given lack of a prep; likely strips fitter for this one.

6. HAPPY AMERICAN (12-1) – Peaked in the middle of the Fair Grounds meet with back-to-back score in the Tenacious S. and Louisiana (G3), but seemingly over the top in the Mineshaft and New Orleans Classic try was on par with his performance in the same race last year; faces slightly easier here, but still a tough task for a horse with class questions and with no dirt experience outside New Orleans and Louisville.

7. TAWNY PORT (8-1) – On the plus side, he adores this track, having captured the Lexington (G3) over it last year, a bit of form later validated in the Ohio Derby (G3) and Jim Dandy (G2); on the downside, he hasn’t come close to landing a blow in his last three starts; shades go on here and a chance he could see a livelier pace in which to close into; however, would demand every point of this morning line, given his recent struggles.