Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) – Odds-on favorite Protonico, ridden by
Javier Castellano, set the pace and cruised home to win Saturday’s 85th
running of the $150,000 Ben Ali at Keeneland.
Protonico, trained by Todd Pletcher for Sumaya U.S. Stables, went off as the
4-5 top choice in the six-horse field of older thoroughbreds going 1 1/8
The 4-year-old controlled the pace and easily drew away from the competition
down the stretch. Protonico comfortably won his second start of the year by
six lengths over the late running Neck ‘n Neck with Ami’s Holiday third.
The time for the Ben Ali was 1:48.79 on a fast track.
The Ben Ali result was a decidedly better one than Protonico’s 2015 debut
effort when he was eased in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 7.
Winning the Ben Ali was worth $90,000 to bring the 4-year-old’s career
earnings to $590,507 with wins in half of his 10 starts.
As a 3-year-old, Protonico won the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park and the
Discovery at Aqueduct. He was also second in Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap
Protonico returned $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20. Neck ‘n Neck paid $6.20 and $4.60,
and Ami’s Holiday paid $4.40 to show.