Kroy had what looked to be an insurmountable lead at the three-sixteenths pole, but Agave Racing Stable's Bowies Hero came with a strong late run under Kent Desormeaux to win Tuesday's Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile by a half-length at the wire. The 3-year-old son of Artie Schiller, earning a fifth lifetime victory at the one-mile distance, stopped the clock in 1:33.46 over Santa Anita's firm turf course. Trained by Phil D'Amato, Bowies Hero was sent off at odds of 3-1, besting Kroy (7-1) and 3-5 favorite Big Score (third).
“Phil D'Amato did a great job in getting him ready,” said Desormeaux. “I don't deserve the credit, he does. This horse had fire in his eyes. He refused to lose. At the 16th pole, I didn't think we had a chance, but he saw that tail in front of him and he mowed him down.”
Breaking from the innermost stall in the starting gate, Kroy was quick to seek the lead under Javier Castellano. Attended by B Squared, Kroy set fractions of :23.54 and :47.09, while Bowies Hero and Holiday Stone also kept close tabs on the leader.
The order remained largely unchanged down the backstretch, but B Squared moved up to challenge Kroy around the far turn while Desormeaux and Bowies Hero awaited racing room. Favored Big Score had started his run from the rear of the field, and had about four lengths to make up at the head of the lane.
Kroy put away B Squared and scooted out to a three-length advantage, but Desormeaux always had him measured down the stretch. Riding low in the saddle, he tapped Bowies Hero on his right flank a few times to encourage the colt, and put his stick away 100 yards from the finish. Bowies Hero overwhelmed Kroy in the final few strides, crossing the wire a half-length in front. Kroy had to settle for second, and it was several lengths back to Big Score in third. Colonist finished fourth.
“Turning for home, I thought I was going to win the race,” Castellano said. “But I give all the respect to the winner – he's a come-from-behind horse who always finishes strong. I'm not disappointed in my horse at all – I think he ran a huge race, and with the good fractions he was right where he wanted to be. I'm very satisfied with second place today.”
Bred in Kentucky by Pope McLean, Pope McLean Jr. and Marc McLean, Bowies Hero was a $17,000 Keeneland September sale purchase. The next year, he commanded $32,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale. Initially trained by Ronnie Cravens for ELA Racing Stable, Bowies Hero won at first asking at Lone Star Park by over five lengths.
Purchased privately by Agave Racing Stable, Bowies Hero made the trip to Southern California and immediately won the listed Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. Though the colt has since won another two listed stakes, the Mathis Brothers Mile is his first graded stakes victory. Overall, Bowies Hero boasts a record of five wins and two thirds from 11 starts, with earnings of over $380,000.
“I loved what Kent was doing,” D'Amato said. “He was saving ground and sitting in behind a couple other horses. He bided his time and rode him very confidently and was able to push by that horse (pacesetter, Kroy). I'm very proud of this horse . . . very proud of the way he finished up the year.”
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