Betting With, and Against, Kingsbarns in the Ben Ali

April 18th, 2024

2023 Louisiana Derby (G2) star #4 Kingsbarns (2-1) is the morning line choice for Saturday’s $300,000 Ben Ali S. (G3) at Keeneland. The four-year-old is no cinch against this talented field, but I expect him to run a big one and to be in with a huge chance turning for home. 

Kingsbarns – With

  • $15 exacta 4 with 1,3 ($30)
  • $1 trifecta 4 with 1,3 with all ($14)
  • $3 trifecta key 4 with 1,3 ($6)

Kingsbarns – Against

  • 30-cent superfecta 1,3 with 1,3,4 with all with all ($50.40)

The Todd Pletcher trainee will be forwardly placed from the break with Luis Saez, but #5 Laughing Boy (15-1) will likely beat him to the front in the early going. Saez figures to force the tempo from second in the early stages on the favorite. I expect Kingsbarns to slowly wear down the pacesetter approaching the turn for home, and the $800,000 son of Uncle Mo will be the one to run down in the stretch. 

From there, I am expecting a big run from the talented, yet inconsistent, #3 Smile Happy (3-1) for conditioner Kenny McPeek. The multiple Grade 2 victor has been off form in a pair of outings in 2024, but he will race as a gelding for the initial time on Saturday, and I am hoping that the change will keep the son of Runhappy from wasting his energy pre-race as he has done on occasion in the past. 

Smile Happy ran one of the better races of all of 2023 in his powerful Alysheba S. (G2) score at Churchill Downs in May, and if we see that version of the Kentucky-bred, then I expect him to go clear in the final yards of this tilt. But that is obviously a big if. Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride and have the contender in striking range while saving ground throughout. 

If Smile Happy fails to bring his best, then I feel that #1 Time for Trouble (6-1) has the best upset chance. The English Channel gelding has won or placed in each of his last six races on the dirt, and his third in the Essex (G3) behind First Mission while going nine furlongs was an ideal prep in advance of Saturday. The seven-year-old got a cozy rail draw and will benefit from picking up the superb Flavien Prat for this test.