Winning Cause, ridden by Julien Leparoux, took the lead in mid-stretch on his way to victory in Saturday's $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.
The 1 1/16-mile Lexington, won last year by 70-1 longshot All Squared Away, offered a last chance to add points in the Kentucky Derby points system. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Winning Cause received 20 points for the win.
The 10-horse field was topped by 5-2 favorite Sunbean with 3-year-old filly Pure Fun at 7-2 and Winning Cause sent off at 6-1 from the inside post.
Setting the pace was River Rocks with Cerro racing in second and Winning Cause just a few lengths off the lead after being bumped at the start. Pure Fun was running next to last as Sunbean was mid-pack up the backstretch.
Around the final turn, Winning Cause was four wide to find clear running room. Owned by Alto Racing, Winning Cause was three wide coming into the stretch and took the lead nearing the furlong pole.
Leparoux, who won last week's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, drove the chestnut colt to the wire where he posted a length victory over a late running General Election.
Finishing third was Pick of the Litter followed by Cerro, Sunbean, Wings of Fortune, Pure Fun, River Rocks, Examen and Hip Four Sixtynine. Where's Dominic was an early scratch.
The time for the Lexington was 1:43.93 on the synthetic main track.
"He got a beautiful trip today," the winning trainer said about Winning Cause's race. "He broke well, put himself in a good spot. Julien was able to maneuver him out good."
Winning Cause picks up $120,000 with the victory, his third in seven lifetime starts. The colt has banked $206,140.
He was coming off a win in an allowance race two weeks ago at Keeneland. Earlier this year, he was second at Aqueduct in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes and fifth in the Java Gold Stakes.
Winning Cause returned $15.60, $8.20 and $6.00. General Election paid $29.60 and $17.80, and Pick of the Litter paid $8.20 to show.
Charismatic followed his 1999 Lexington victory with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.