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Al Khali, Winchester Top Bowling Green

Winchester captures the 2008 Secretariat at Arlington
 Al Khali may find himself at the perfect distance when he competes in the Grade 2, $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on the Inner Turf Course on Saturday, September 11, opening day for the 2010 Fall Championship Meet at Belmont Park.


After taking the 2009 Grade 3 Saranac, Al Khali was off the board in his next four starts before he returned to the winner’s circle two starts back with a gate-to-wire triumph in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer at Belmont on July 8. Trying 1 ½ miles in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga on August 14, the 4-year-old led in the stretch but was outkicked and finished third.


“We thought he might be one who could get the trip,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott of the decision to try Al Khali at 1 ½ miles. “It looks like that last furlong might have stretched him out a little, but a mile and three eighths might be in his range.”


Al Khali, the 4-1 second choice who was assigned 116 pounds, will be ridden by Julien Leparoux for the first time and leaves from post position 3.


Remaining at the same 1 3/8-mile distance is the 2-1 morning-line favorite Winchester, most recently third in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park on July 3. Prior to that performance, the Christophe Clement-trainee upset stablemate and reigning Champion Older Horse Gio Ponti with a half-length decision in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap over 1 ¼ miles at Belmont on June 5.


“He’s had the summer off, but he’s ready to go,” said Clement of Winchester, who will carry 119 pounds, leave from post position 5, and once again have the services of Cornelio Velasquez.


Trainer Barclay Tagg has elected to keep Dry Martini on the grass following a seventh in the John’s Call at Saratoga on August 6.


“It looked like he liked [the turf] all right,” said Tagg. “He’s a pretty classy horse – I wouldn’t run him against Gio Ponti or Get Stormy; the turf division is never easy – but running him on grass might help him last longer, keep him happy, and he might enjoy it. It’s a very forgiving surface.”


Dry Martini, whose five stakes victories include the 2009 Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, drew post 7 under Edgar Prado and 115 pounds at 12-1 on the morning line.

Grand Couturier picked up his first victory of 2009 in the Bowling Green and will try to repeat history on Saturday when he aims for his first win in 2010. Sixth last time out in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer, a race he won in 2007 and 2008, the 6-year-old son of Grand Lodge was installed at 8-1 and was assigned 117 pounds. Alan Garcia will ride from post 2.


From the rail out the field also includes Simmard, who is returning from a 7 ½-month layoff; Southwest, who steps up in class after prevailing by a nose in a $50,000 claiming race at Delaware Park on June 5; Strike a Deal, who took the 2009 Grade 2 Red Smith at 1 3/8 miles; Gabriel’s Hill, fourth in the Greenwood Cup on the dirt on July 17; Interpatation, the winner of the 2009 Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational and fourth last time out in the Sword Dancer; Followmyfootsteps, third in a Saratoga optional claimer on August 25; and Jeune-Turc, a Group 1 winner in his native Brazil who was eighth in the United Nations in his lone start in North America.


The field for the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap:








Simmard (KY)

J R Velazquez


R L Attfield



Grand Couturier (GB)

A Garcia


R Ribaudo



Al Khali (KY)

J R Leparoux


W I Mott



Strike a Deal (KY)

R A Dominguez


A E Goldberg



Winchester (VA)

C H Velasquez


C Clement



Gabriel's Hill (KY)

E Coa


S Benzel



Dry Martini (FL)

E S Prado


B Tagg



Southwest (VA)

J Castellano


R Jenkins



Interpatation (KY)

C Hill


R Barbara



Followmyfootsteps (KY)

R Maragh


T H Voss



Jeune-Turc (BRZ)

J Lezcano


P H Lobo



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