November 30, 2023

Rattle N Roll kicks into gear in Ben Ali

Rattle N Roll wins the Ben Ali Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Lucky Seven Stable’s Rattle N Roll was ready to do just that in Saturday’s $300,000 Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland. Benefiting from a useful fourth in his comeback in the March 25 New Orleans Classic (G2), the Ken McPeek trainee got his desired pace set-up, and accordingly rallied to earn his fifth stakes victory.

“He just needed that run down there at Fair Grounds,” McPeek said. “He’d been off a while and was a little bit rusty. He didn’t quite get into his run as early. But we’ve kind of been plotting for this race. We thought it would be a really good spot for him.”

Rattle N Roll was returning to the scene of his biggest win, the 2021 Breeders’ Futurity (G1). Although he lost his way in the first half of his sophomore season in 2022, the son of Connect righted the ship with scores in the off-the-turf American Derby at Churchill Downs, the St. Louis Derby, and the Oklahoma Derby (G3).

The 2.99-1 second choice in the Ben Ali, Rattle N Roll was unhurried early, but telegraphed intent when smoothly advancing on the inside down the backstretch. Up front, Pioneer of Medina was prompted by Trademark through fractions of :23.34, :47.62, and 1:12.18. Skippylongstocking, the 1.71-1 favorite, tracked in third until he could no longer maintain his position turning for home.

By that point, Rattle N Roll was overtaking him. Switched out for running room by Brian Hernandez Jr., the chestnut took off and overhauled a gritty Pioneer of Medina. Rattle N Roll negotiated 1 3/16 miles in 1:56.48 and paid $7.98.

Another 1 1/4 lengths back in second came Call Me Fast, who broke awkwardly but finished well. Pioneer of Medina was relegated to third by a half-length, followed by Happy American, Skippylongstocking, Trademark, and an eased Tawny Port.

Rattle N Roll’s scorecard stands at 16-6-1-2, $1,215,861, including a third in the Matt Winn (G3) and fourths in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2) last year.

“Being fortunate enough to ride him as many times as I have,” Hernandez said, “we’ve learned his tendencies. He’s the type of horse that he doesn’t get in a hurry early, but when he gets in his rhythm, you just stay out of his way. He has a known tendency to make an early move, but that’s just him, and if you try to slow him down when he starts to make his move, you just kind of compromise him.

“So I’ve learned to stay out of his way and let him run his race and leave it up to him. That’s the good thing about riding good horses as well: He was there traveling for me the whole way, so when a little spot would open he was there, and he would turn off and turn on and navigate through traffic like we needed him to.”

McPeek credited two key team members for the performance.

“There’s a couple of people (who are) the reason we’re standing here: Greg Geier, my assistant at Churchill (Downs) – this is like his boy – and Peter Soria, the groom who has handled this horse from the beginning. It’s teammates like that that help us get here. Unfortunately, they don’t get the glory of it all, but Greg Geier and Peter Soria are fabulous horsemen and contribute to this horse’s daily routine more than I do.”

Purchased by McPeek for $210,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, Rattle N Roll was bred by St. Simon Place in Kentucky. He was first sold for $55,000 as a November weanling at the same venue. His dam, the Johannesburg mare Jazz Tune, descends from the noted matron Dance Review, who is closely related to Lyphard.