War Campaign a Good Fit for Saturday’s Ben Ali

April 18, 2024

War Campaign scoring in the Tinsel. (Renee Torbit/Coady Photography)

Horseplayers From Kentucky, New York Top Keeneland Handicapping Contests

The Past the Wire annual Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby seminar, the best in the game DETAILS HERE 

Keeneland Press Release 

LEXINGTON, Ky.— Jerry Namy’s 5-year-old homebred War Campaign has put together a solid resume in three years of racing with earnings totaling $664,664. All that is missing from that resume is a graded stakes victory.

He will get the chance to check that box Saturday when he goes to the gate for the 93rd running of the $300,000 Ben Ali (G3).

“I think he fits well in this race,” trainer Phil Sims said Wednesday morning. “Saturday’s race is a mile and three-sixteenths, and he has won at a mile and a quarter.”

War Campaign showed his readiness for graded stakes competition when he finished second to the highly regarded First Mission in the Essex Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park on March 23.

“We don’t run many horses in the winter, and he had a little break after he won the Tinsel (Stakes at Oaklawn on Dec. 16),” Sims said. “We trained him up for the Essex here and then shipped him to Oaklawn.”

Following the Essex, Sims had a choice between the Ben Ali and the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), also to be run Saturday, but he opted to stay here.

“We will see what happens Saturday and then maybe look for something at Churchill,” Sims said of War Campaign, who has a 6-3-0-3 record on the main track in Louisville. “He likes Churchill a lot.”

Whatever is next, War Campaign will continue to campaign on the dirt instead of grass, where he has been off the board in his two starts on the surface.

“It’s kind of funny in that he is bred for the turf, but he runs better on the dirt,” Sims said of the son of two-time Group 1 turf winner Declaration of War. “I like having a good dirt horse.”

Prospective Field For Closing-Day Bewitch Presented By Keeneland Sales

Friday, April 26 race. Entries taken Friday, April 19.

$300,000 Bewitch Presented by Keeneland Sales – Tower Bridge (trainer Cherie DeVaux). Possible: Chop Chop (Brad Cox), Lovely Princess (Kenny McPeek), Vergara (Graham Motion).

Horseplayers From Kentucky, New York Top Keeneland Handicapping Contests

On Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13, Keeneland hosted two popular handicapping contests for several hundred players at the track and on various ADWs.

The action kicked off Friday with 200 entries in the on-track-only Spring Challenge. Matt Gumm of Glasgow, Kentucky, finished first with a bankroll of $4,823 from an initial $250, taking home a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) at Del Mar in November and a first-place prize of $3,200.

Howard Kravets of Vernon Hills, Illinois, was second with $4,269. Gregory Lewis of Columbus, Ohio, finished third, and Peter Rogers of Summit, New Jersey, was fourth.  

For their performances, Kravets, Lewis and Rogers secured berths in the 2025 National Horseplayers Championships (NHC) in Las Vegas and prize money.

On Saturday, a field of 282 players contested the Grade One Gamble, a $3,500 contest widely considered one of the most prestigious handicapping events in the country. Darren Schweiger of New York, New York, crushed a $4,000 exacta in the Stonestreet Lexington (G3) on his way to a final bankroll of $42,360. Schweiger took home $68,000 in prize money, a BCBC berth and an NHC berth.

Runner-up Clay Sanders of Memphis cashed a $6,500 win bet on the horse who won the day’s final race to attain a bankroll of $27,365. That total was good for $34,000 in prize money, a BCBC berth and an NHC berth.

In all, six players punched their tickets to both the NHC and BCBC, and another four players earned an NHC berth. They include the aforementioned Gregory Lewis, who finished third with a total bankroll of $23,494 and won a BCBC berth and two NHC berths during this weekend, and Howard Kravets, who finished seventh with a total of $20,796 and double-qualified for the NHC.

Final standings are available at https://members.breederscup.com/bcbc/keeneland

Here are the top 10 finishers with prize money. The first six received BCBC and NHC berths. Players who finished seventh through 10th received NHC berths.

1.      Darren Schweiger ($68,000)

2.      Clay Sanders ($34,000)

3.      Gregory Lewis ($18,000)

4.      Cory Shorr ($9,000)

5.      Rich Pawlowski ($6,800)

6.      Dan Hartmann ($3,600)

7.      Howard Kravets ($3,600)

8.      Drew Keaton ($3,600)

9.      Chuck Grubbs ($3,600)

10.   John Fisher ($3,600)

Keeneland’s next handicapping contest is the BCBC-NHC Challenge on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Third Week Special Events


Official Keeneland Tours. Click here for availability and to purchase.

Through Aug. 16

Keeneland Library is recognizing this year’s historic running of the Toyota Blue Grass at its free exhibit, A Rite of Spring: The 100thRunning of the Blue Grass Stakes. The exhibit features photographs that capture race highlights curated from Keeneland Library collections and public submissions from professional and amateur photographers along with memorabilia from noted jockeys Bill Shoemaker, Mike Manganello and Chris Antley and celebrated runners WhirlawayRiva RidgeSpectacular Bid and Strike the Gold.

Open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Library is located on the Keeneland campus. Enter Keeneland at Gate 1 on Keeneland Blvd. and take the first right on Entertainment Ct. The Library is to the left of the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center.

Click here for the virtual companion to the exhibit.


WINS-Day Challenge Presented by Malone’s. Enter for $10 at Wagering Central on the first floor of the Grandstand and place a mythical $2 win and place wager – no actual money required – on Keeneland’s final six races of the day. This is an inexpensive way for beginner handicappers to give contests a try.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The Hill. Keeneland’s popular tailgating area is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the Spring Meet, weather permitting. No ticket or reservation is required for The Hill, located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center and accessible via Gate 1 (at Man o’ War Blvd.) or Gate 4 (off Van Meter Road on the east side of Keeneland).

Fans on The Hill can watch the racing action via a jumbo TV and place their bets in a wagering tent while they enjoy live music presented by The Burl, food trucks and handicapping assistance from BETologists. Complimentary shuttles to the track are offered. 

For fans who want to elevate their experience, Keeneland again is partnering with RevelXP to offer tailgate packages for groups of any size. RevelXP will organize tailgates by furnishing a designated tent, catering, amenities and more. Visit Keeneland.com/tailgating for full details.

The Hill is open from 8 a.m. to 60 minutes after the last race. Amenities are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 


College Scholarship Day Presented by Lane’s End. Keeneland invites college students to enjoy a day of racing, prizes, scholarship giveaways, behind-the-scenes racing experiences, reserved seating and more. By pre-registering, students will receive a free general admission ticket good for April 19 and the opportunity to win one of 10 $2,000 scholarships provided by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Keeneland. Students who attend the race day and have their tickets scanned day-of also will be eligible to win two additional $10,000 scholarships provided by Lane’s End Farm, as well as prize packages from local Kentucky businesses. Activities will take place at the North Terrace from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pre-register at www.Keeneland.com/csd.


FINAL Sunrise Trackside of Spring Meet. This free Saturday morning program from 8-10 a.m. is geared toward families and offers a unique view of Thoroughbreds during training hours. Fans can enjoy coffee and donuts at the Starting Gate concession stand while watching horses train. Children’s activities on the first floor of the Grandstand will include a visit with Keeneland mascot Buckles, face painting and games. Mini tours will be available at the Welcome Stand near the Paddock.

Every Saturday, the John Deere Tractor Break will take place during the renovation period on the main track from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and include a drawing for a kid’s tractor from John Deere/Meade Tractor.


Keeneland Kids Club Family Day Presented by Kentucky Children’s Hospital. The Keeneland Kids Club is the Official Kids Club for Keeneland fans 12 and younger. Kids Club members and their families are invited to a special day at the races and will receive free general admission and access to reserved Grandstand seating when they present their membership cards at admission entrances. Children’s activities, which will take place in the North Terrace from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., include face painting and activities with local community partners such as Amplify Horse Racing, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, LexArts, Lexington Ballet and Salvation Army. Sign up for the Kids Club at Keeneland.com/kidsclub.

PDJF Telethon. The fourth annual fundraising event for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund will be basedin the Limestone Café in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.

@jonathanstettin great read as always!

@Villani14 View testimonials



Leave a Comment