After providing his connections with a few anxious moments, Al Khali
closed with a rush in the waning strides of the 52nd running of the
Grade 2, $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap to prevail on opening day of the Fall
Championship Meet at Belmont
Al Khali raced in fifth behind cover as pacesetter Strike a Deal ran a
half in 49.31 and continued to bide his time while saving ground on the far
turn through six furlongs in 1:14.84. Angled off the rail midway on the bend,
Al Khali was initially stymied by traffic, but unleashed a strong kick after
finding room inside the final furlong to collar odds-on favorite Winchester in
the shadow of the wire and score by a neck in a three-horse photo. Simmard was
“My horse was the best today,” said Garcia. “[Trainer
Bill Mott] said to me, ‘Wherever you’re comfortable, whatever you
feel, wherever you want to be, it’s your decision.’ [My horse] was
sitting perfectly. He was going slow then he went faster to get me out into a
better spot and after that, my horse was the best. [Once I got out], I knew I
had a lot of time.”
Al Khali, backed as the 5-2 second choice, returned $7.30 to his
backers in the crowd of 7,554 and ran the 1 3/8 miles over the Inner Turf
Course in 2:15.23.
The Bowling Green
was the second graded stakes victory for Al Khali, who won the Grade 3 Saranac
at Saratoga Race Course in 2009. The 4-year-old ridgling has now won two of his
past three starts, having captured an optional claimer at Belmont
on July 8 and finishing third in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga on August 14.
“I thought we’d be laying second to the horse on the lead
[Strike a Deal],” said Mott, who trains Al Khali for Brous Stable and
Wachtel Stable. “I said, ‘The horse of Goldberg’s was on the
lead in the Dixie and went wire-to-wire, and
he’s probably going to lead the race.’ And he went, but then they
slowed it down. At the eighth pole, I didn’t think we had any chance, but
he came with a good run.”
Al Khali, bred in Kentucky by Emory A.
Hamilton, earned $90,000 for his Bowling
Green victory, boosting his bankroll to $368,955. The
bay son of Medaglia d’Oro has posted a record of 6-2-2 through 17 starts.
Strike a Deal faded to fourth, while Jeune-Turc, Dry Martini, and
Followmyfootsteps completed the order of finish. Gabriel’s Hill, Grand
Couturier, Interpatation, and Southwest were scratched.