Early Schooling

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In his Saratoga Race Course debut last week, Liam Benson saddled No So Quiet Man to a runner-up finish behind the Bill Mott-trained House Of Friends. In today’s $100,000 Quick Call Stakes, the 21-year-old trainer and University of Louisville student hopes to finish ahead of the Hall of Famer and the other conditioners with a starter in the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint.

Benson sends out Expected Ruler in the Quick Call and the bright-eyed bay son of Leroidesanimaux will be the trainer’s first stakes starter at Saratoga. Originally from Red Bank, N.J., about 15 minutes from where he now bases his string of five during the summer at Monmouth Park, Benson has fond memories of going to the Jersey Shore track where it all started for him as a young boy.

“The first race I remember seeing at Monmouth was when Dixie Union won the Haskell before we were even involved in Thoroughbreds,” Benson said of the 2000 Haskell winner.

Benson’s passion for the game was ignited when his father, also named Liam, retired about 10 years ago and his family moved to Florida, bought a farm and quickly made a splash in the Sunshine State’s Thoroughbred industry.

“We were the third-leading breeder in Florida by numbers one year,” Benson said. “We had 35 mares at one point and when the foals don’t sell you have yearlings and when the yearlings don’t sell you have 2-year-olds and all of a sudden you’ve got some racehorses. We had always had quite a few horses at the track and my parents said ‘Why don’t you take a swing at Colonial Downs?’ “

In 2013 with his parents’ blessing and encouragement, Benson grabbed the proverbial bit and took out his trainer’s license. He started with six horses, won his first race that year at Colonial and continues to train while attending school.

To read the rest of the Quick Call preview, download Thursday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland Sales.