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Romance at Keeneland


     Rogue Romance, who returned to racing with a resounding win at Gulfstream Park on March 31 following a 13-month absence, will try to score his second career graded stakes win in the Ben Ali (G3) over Keeneland’s Polytrack on April 22.
     The four-year-old son of Smarty Jones won the 2010 Bourbon Stakes (G3) on turf at Keeneland before a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but lost his chance at the classics the following year when he incurred a foot fracture.Rogue Romance powers to Gulfstream win on March 31 (Coglianese Photos)
     Raced by Runnymede Chairman Catesby W. Clay and co-bred by him with the farm, Rogue Romance will take on six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Ben Ali including Wise Dan, who has won two graded stakes on Keeneland’s Polytrack as well as the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
      Trainer Ken McPeek praised Rogue Romance and indicated the colt’s versatility could serve him well.
     “This is a really nice horse,” McPeek said. “We like running here (at Keeneland) for the Clay family and Runnymede Farm. We just felt like it would be a good time to run him on (Polytrack). He’s won on the turf and dirt.”
      Rogue Romance rallied from off the pace win the Gulfstream allowance/optional claiming race at one mile last month, stopping the clock in an impressive 1:34.95.
      Other horses in the Ben Ali that will be challengers include Canadian classic winner Eye of the Leopard and Big Blue Kitten, a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 stakes-placed on turf.
       Rogue Romance has drawn the three post and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, who has steered the colt in five of his six career starts and all three of his victories. To date, Rogue Romance has earned $358,185.
      On the same program at Keeneland, Runnymede and McPeek will team up with three-year-old colt Sokitumi Samurai in a maiden event over 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack. The son of First Samurai just missed by a head in a race on dirt over the same distance at Gulfstream Park on February 24 but finished fifth in a similar race on Keeneland’s Polytrack on April 6.
     Manoel Cruz will ride Sokitumi Samurai from post two in the ten-horse field.