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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

No Stopping Al Khali in Bowling Green

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 Park.

 

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 third.

 

“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.

 

 

 

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