LEXINGTON, KY – Watershed surged past Bird Song at the 1/16 pole en route to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Ben Ali.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by Paco Lopez, Watershed covered 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:50.92. For Lopez, it was his first career Keeneland stakes victory.
“Paco rode a great race,” McLaughlin said. “It’s always wonderful to win here in our hometown, Lexington, and at Keeneland. It’s a great crowd, great people, and it’s fun to win.”
Conquest Enforcer led the field of eight through fractions of :23.95 and :47.17 but yielded the lead to Bird Song on the far turn. Bird Song kicked clear entering the stretch but could not fend off Watershed, who drew clear in the final 100 yards.
“We had a great trip,” said Brian Hernandez, Jr., Bird Song’s rider. “Our horse did everything you could ask of him. We were in a great spot the whole way around. This is his first time running a mile and an eighth and he handled it really well. He finished up well. We just couldn’t win today.”
Defending champion Eagle rallied from the rear of the field under jockey Robby Albarado to take second by a nose over Bird Song.
“I had a decent trip,” said Albarado. “I had to go pretty wide around the turn, turning for home. He wasn’t giving me what I needed inside, so I went around with him and he ran hard. He ran down some nice horses today to get up for place.”
Blofeld finished another neck back in fourth and was followed in order by Conquest Enforcer, Scuba, Taketothestreets, and Frammento.
The victory was worth $120,000 and raised Watershed’s bankroll to $402,550 with a record of 14-5-0-3. Now undefeated in two starts at Keeneland it was the first career graded stakes victory for the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Bernardini out of the Dubai Millennium mare Thousand Islands. Last out, he was a non-threatening ninth in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes over the Gulfstream Park grass.
“We tried him on the turf, and last time he ran well, but we thought he was better on dirt,” McLaughlin said. “We’re happy everything worked out today.”
Watershed returned $12.20, $5.40, and $3.40. Eagle brought back $4.40 and $2.80, while Bird Song paid $2.60 to show.