Alysheba Win for Protonico

Protonico (Giant's Causeway) winning the Ben Ali Stakes (Gr.3) at Keenland

Classy entire Protonico (4h Giant’s Causeway x Alpha Spirit by AP Indy) scored a tenacious win in the $400,000 Grade II Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on Friday.

A last start winner of the Grade III Ben Ali Stakes, the Todd Pletcher trained Protonico has really found his best form now and showed plenty of courage to snatch a head win with Johnny Velasquez in the saddle in the 1 and 1/16th mile contest.

“He’s a horse that has won on the lead and from last,” said Todd Pletcher.

“But the one thing that he always seems to do is idle when he makes the lead. Johnny [Velazquez] said he tried to wait and he let the other horse [Noble Bird] put a head in front before he decided to fight back. It was a courageous effort.

“My only concern was the 22 days between races was too short, but we knew he liked this track and since we are thinking about the [June 13 GI] Stephen Foster, we decided to take a chance.”

A homebred for Sumaya Stables, Protonico is the first winner for Alpha Spirit, a sister to stakes-winner Diva Spirit and daughter of Chilean Champion 3YO Filly Wild Spirit.

A son of champion sire Giant’s Causeway, he has the overall record of six wins from 11 starts with prizemoney topping $828,000.

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