Reigning Eclipse champion turf male World Approval, recent Grade III winner Om and past winner What a View head a field of eight older horses in Saturday's Grade I, $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (turf) at Santa Anita. Named for Santa Anita's legendary late director of racing Frank E. (Jimmy) Kilroe, the Kilroe Mile is one of four graded stakes on a blockbuster 11-race program that will begin with special early first post time of 12 noon.
Trained by Florida-based Mark Casse, World Approval enters the Kilroe with the loftiest of credentials, having won his last four races, including the Grade I Breeders' Cup Mile two starts back on Nov. 4. With regular rider John Velazquez unavailable, the 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding will be ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat in what will also be his first-ever appearance at Santa Anita.
Hustled to a seven length lead in aggressive fashion by Prat, the Dan Hendricks-conditioned Om snapped a 12-race losing streak in taking the Grade III, one mile turf Thunder Road Stakes by a half length on Feb. 10. With Prat answering the call from Casse for the Kilroe, Hendricks will look to “Big Money” Mike Smith to bring home the bacon on Saturday.
Second in last year's running and a winner of the 2016 Kilroe, trainer Kenny Black's California-bred What a View comes off a dismal performance at 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course in the Grade III Daytona Stakes Feb. 24, a race he very likely needed as he'd been idle for seven months. With a recent race under his belt, his connections are hopeful he can turn things around at the preferred one mile distance.
Owner: Live Oak Plantation; Trainer: Mark Casse
Including the Breeders' Cup Mile, he was a winner of three consecutive Grade I stakes prior to annexing the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles turf Tampa Bay Stakes on Feb. 10. A winner of eight graded stakes, he's been forwardly placed in all of them. With three half mile breezes at Palm Meadows since his Tampa Bay Score, World Approval is obviously ready to roll on Saturday and with five wins from six starts in 2017, he appears poised to have another tremendous year at age six. Unbeaten in three starts at a mile on turf, he's got an overall mark of 25-12-2-4 and earnings of $3,052,363. World Approval, who was bred in Florida by his owner, will no doubt be a short priced favorite in the Kilroe Mile.
Owner: Sareen Family Trust; Trainer: Dan Hendricks
Although Prat was able to execute a daylight heist in the Thunder Road Feb. 10, the element of surprise is no longer in Om's corner, suggesting that he'll be unable to open up on his competition as readily on Saturday. A stone miler, at no point did he “tail off” during his 12-race drought, as he was he was narrowly beaten on several occasions. With an outstanding 11-4-3-2 record over the Santa Anita lawn, this 6-year-old horse by Munnings is 10-3-3-2 at a mile on turf and with Smith taking over, he should be plenty tough whether he's on the lead or stalking early.
WHAT A VIEW
Owner: Finish Line Racing, LLC, the Elwood Johnston Trust & Taste of Victory Stables; Trainer: Kenny Black
A six-time winner over the course, this 7-year-old California-bred gelding by Vronsky, who was also bred in-part by the Johnston family's Old English Rancho, is faced with a daunting task as he tries to re-start a career that's been interrupted on occasion by tender feet. Off at 10-1 in his comeback race, the Grade III Daytona on Feb. 24, he was never a factor after bobbling at the start. A gifted miler and a four-time stakes winner, he could prove bothersome to anyone seeking a comfortable early lead with regular rider Tyler Baze up.
GRADE I, $400,000 FRANK E. KILROE MILE WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS, BY POST POSITION
Race 5 of 11, approximate post time 2 p.m. PT
- Free Rose—Kent Desormeaux—120
- Bowies Hero—Corey Nakatani—122
- Next Shares—Rajiv Maragh–120
- Syntax—Giovanni Franco—120
- World Approval—Flavien Prat—124
- What a View—Baze–120
- Om—Mike Smith—122
- Channel Maker–Castellano—120
Special first post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. For additional information, please visit www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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