The historic Calumet Farm, now owned by Brad Kelley, saw another Grade 1 victor on Saturday when Bal A Bali just got up to win the Frank E. Kilroe Mile by about a head over What A View. The 7-year-old son of Put It Back was ridden expertly by visiting jockey Javier Castellano, covering a mile on Santa Anita's firm turf in 1:33.86 for trainer Richard Mandella. It was Bal A Bali's first start in the Calumet silks (not the red and blue of old, now black with gold chevrons), following a private purchase and an 8 1/2-month layoff.
“He came from way back and gave a great performance,” said Castellano. “I feel great. I'm very lucky and fortunate to have been able to ride the horse. I give all the credit to Mr. Mandella and what he did; the way he trained the horse.”
Defending winner What A View broke sharply and, as expected, took up the front-running position entering the first turn. He was tracked by Conquest Enforcer and a three-wide Dortmund through a first quarter in :23.40, with Bal A Bali and Castellano sitting chilly in a great stalking position along the rail. What A View relaxed beautifully on a two-length lead down the backstretch, pricking his ears through a half in :46.89.
Approaching the far turn, Dortmund, making his first start on the grass, seemed hard-pressed to keep up with the leaders and began to drop back. Bal A Bali and Conquest Enforcer just kept inching away at What A View's lead, but the order had not changed at the top of the lane, with What A View still two lengths in front.
Bal A Bali swung to the outside and worked hard to put away Conquest Enforcer, then seemed to hang for a moment before he saw that there was another horse in front of him. Zeroing in on What A View, Bal A Bali extended himself once again, just getting up in the shadow of the wire to be declared the winner in a photo finish. What A View had to settle for second, with Bolo getting up over Ring Weekend for third.
“I like winning better,” Mandella said. “The horse got sour last year, and with a little time off and some freshening up, he responded and came back good.”
Dortmund crossed the wire last of the six-horse field. Said trainer Art Sherman of Dortmund's sixth-place finish: “It was kind of a bad mistake, but you don't know until you try him. He'll be on the dirt from now on.”
Bred in Brazil by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Bal A Bali began his career in his native country, racking up eight consecutive victories, four of which were G1's, before he was sold to the partnership of Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm in the United States. He struggled a bit to find his footing locally, but remained competitive in the top echelon of turf racing on the west coast, consistently hitting the board. The Kilroe Mile is his first G1 in the U.S., and improves the older horse's record to 14-1-4 in 23 starts with just over $1 million in earnings.
Watch the race replay here:
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