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War Campaign, Time for Trouble Meet Again in Ben Ali

Meanwhile, Runhappy will be well-represented with two of his sons. 

War Campaign wins the 2023 Tinsel Stakes at Oaklawn Park

War Campaign wins the 2023 Tinsel Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Coady Photography

While not on par with famed trilogies such as Ali-Frazier, the third-ever meeting between War Campaign and Time for Trouble should nonetheless bring excitement to Keeneland April 20 in the $300,000 Ben Ali Stakes (G3).

The last time out for both—the March 23 Essex Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park—saw both hit the board with 5-year-old War Campaign edging his elder of two years by a half-length for second. Neither threatened victorious First Mission who pulled away down the stretch. It was a much different story than the first meeting between the two, which happened nearly 11 months before the Essex. 

Time for Trouble, who had 23 races to his name compared with eight for War Campaign at the time of their first meeting, showed what that experience can do. Stalking the pace before taking the lead along the rail in the final sixteenth of a mile, Time for Trouble won by a head in an allowance optional claimer at Keeneland April 20, 2023. War Campaign was never a factor and finished sixth and last. 

Since then, Jerry Namy's homebred has seen steady improvement—he won his next time out, another allowance optional claiming race, this time at Churchill Downs. He's also consistently improved upon his Equibase Speed Figures posting his career-best (112) two races back in the Tinsel Stakes and co-second-best (107) in the Essex. 

"I think he fits well in this race," trainer Phil Sims said. "Saturday's race is a mile and three-sixteenths, and he has won at a mile and a quarter."

Meanwhile, Thorndale Stable and Jeff Hiles' Time for Trouble hasn't raced as much as his rival since that initial meeting and, outside of the Essex, has struggled in graded company, finishing no better than sixth in three such races. 

Time for Trouble will have an advantage Saturday, starting from the innermost position while War Campaign will break from the outermost post. 

Both have only made one start at the race's 1 3/16-mile distance with Time for Trouble having come away victorious in his turn.

IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT

Runhappy , the 2015 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) victor, will be well-represented in the Ben Ali by two of his sons, both geldings. 

Millionaire Smile Happy, who will be running in his 10th graded stakes out of 12 starts and sixth consecutive such race, hopes to pick up his first triumph since last year's Alysheba Stakes (G2). He finished fifth and sixth in a pair of grade 3s at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots to start the year. 

Meanwhile, another Runhappy gelding, Happy American, is also in search of ending a dry spell. He's failed to find the winner's circle since the January 2023 Louisiana Stakes (G3).

WORTH NOTING

Kingsbarns, winner of the 2023 Louisiana Derby (G2), makes just his third start since last year's Kentucky Derby (G1). He most recently won an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park in his 2024 debut.

After a seventh in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) and a fourth in the Challenger Stakes (G3), Dynamic One eyes his first graded stakes win since 2022. 

Entries: Ben Ali S. (G3)

Keeneland, Saturday, April 20, 2024, Race 9

  • Grade III
  • 1 3/16m
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 5:16 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11Time for Trouble (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlavien Prat118Jeff A. Hiles6/1
22Surly Furious (KY)Lanfranco Dettori118Glenn S. Wismer10/1
33Smile Happy (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.118Kenneth G. McPeek3/1
44Kingsbarns (KY)Luis Saez118Todd A. Pletcher2/1
55Laughing Boy (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateReylu Gutierrez118David Jacobson15/1
66Archie the Giza (KY)John R. Velazquez118Robert Medina30/1
77Dynamic One (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.118Todd A. Pletcher8/1
88Happy American (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey J. Lanerie118Neil L. Pessin15/1
99War Campaign (KY)Tyler Gaffalione118Philip A. Sims4/1