Clockwork Chai in Action at Kilroe Mile

Kilroe Mile (Grade 1)- $400.000 Purse
SA- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
March 10, 2018

We can’t let the three year olds have all the attention this week. There is plenty of other top races going on, and one of the more intriguing races takes place at SA on Saturday in the 14th running of the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile. It brings together many of the top turf horses in this division, and has seen some great ones take home the trophy in the past. Alpha Ultimo was a past winner, dating back to 2006, with other well known commodities such as Shoot Skyhigh, Charming Behrens, and Seven Years also winning the race. Then, we have one that did it twice, as Jagged Account won the race in both 2007 and 2008 for Australia Wide. Last year, the race was won by Inspector Jacque, finishing off what was a great run of form for him. He’s still active, but as of at this time, he has not won again. There will be ten racing in this edition of the event, so let’s take a look at our field!

#1- Gallivant (Nakamura Stables, ridden by L Saez)- We get the field started off with this veteran five year old gelding making his 21st career start. In his earlier days, he either won or was very competitive in some of the biggest Grade 1’s for his class, but the victories have not come as often as late. He did, however, show he is still a graded stake winner as recently as December as last year, winning the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at GP, and getting a 104 SRF in the process. He’s raced once since, which was here in the San Marcos last month. After leading for a while, he dropped a bit but still picked up a fourth place check. He hasn’t tried a Grade 1 since running in the BC Turf in 2016.

#2- Eastern Townships (Sanny Village, ridden by J Talamo)- This gelding has had a very successful career, earning just over $1,200.000 and still showing that he is on top of his game. He has two wins in his last four races, one which was the Grade 1 Shadwell at KEE last October. The other win is less exciting, coming in here in an optional claimer in what was probably just to keep him fresh. This veteran still is capable of winning, but he must be at this best to beat what is a strong field, but he could do it. J Talamo will be in the saddle for the first time.

#3- Clockwork Chai (Mb Stables, ridden by L H Colon)- Here’s one of the reasons that everyone else must be at their absolute best in this race. Clockwork Chai simply does not lose. I have used the analogy with the 2017 Horse Of The Year before, but his name is perfect, because he wins like clockwork. The numbers now read 13 times in 16 starts. What more is there really to say about him, he is simply a legend and also the reigning BC Turf champion. We could point out all of his other victories too, but the level of consistency he has displayed is amazing. He is clearly the favorite, but there are still some in here, such as Compress who’ll make sure that he earns it. L H Colon rides him for the first time. He really hasn’t had the regular rider over his career. For a while it looked like I Ortiz Jr, but its been a few starts now.

#4- Forty Two (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by J J Castellano)- After being acquired in May last year, Forty Two was a regular participant in the NY-bred circuit. He had success out there, including a good looking win in the $150.000 Ponti Stakes, and only in his last start did the trainer bring him out west. He had been out this way for Night Mare Racing, but in his last start, he could only do a second in an allowance here. The winner of that race, The Joker, followed it up by running second in the GP Turf Handicap, defeating Eastern Townships. So that tells me the allowance was a much better race then it seems. There’s talent here, but he’d have to catch Clockwork Chai on a bad day.

#5- Grand Sierra (Fractious, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- This horse also wins at an impressive clip, taking five out of eight. Many of those races were in PA, including a victory in the $100.000 Crowd Pleaser for PA-breds at PRX last July. Fractious picked him up at a pretty good price, just $20.000, in private sales in January, and after about two months of getting ready for this race, he’ll debut in his new silks here. He’s a potential longshot play in this field. I Ortiz Jr gets the ride, making me think that he never had the opportunity to ride Clockwork Chai, but if he did, it’s a vote of confidence.

#6- Serious Cobra (Smokey Stover, ridden by R J Albarado)- Here is another one that will be racing for a new owner, as Smokey Stover picked him in private sales on the first of this month for a healthy $425.000 price tag. The four year old colt has four wins in 14 starts, but it’s a second place run that got him the most money, when he ran second in the BC Mile last fall. He had also raced very well heading into the BC. He’s only raced once since, competing in 6 ½ furlong allowance right here at SA that was probably too short for him so I am not concerned about it. If you’re a little concerned that this is not Clockwork Chai’s best distance, Serious Cobra and/or Compress are the horses for you.

#7- Controlled Power (Spankys Barn, ridden by C S Nakatani)- Since being claimed for $35.000 last summer, Controlled Power has seen his career take off under the guidance of Spankys Barn. In late August, he won his stake debut, which would be in the form of the Grade 2 Sky Classic at WO. He’s been at this best when going closer to a mile and a half, but recent results, including consecutive wins show that he doesn’t have to go quite as long. This will be the shortest he has run since being claimed, and given some of the names he is up against, it’s a tough challenge, but he should be up for it.

#8- The Force Awakens (Diablo Diablo, ridden by J L Ortiz)- When he is on top of his game, The Force Awakens is a very competitive colt, but he has also shown that his force does not always awaken on race day. There are some duds in his past performance as well, with his most recent start, the Grade 3 McKnight Handicap, being one of them. His turf career only consists of his last five starts, but he has transitioned to the grass well, but he’s used to going longer. This is certainly a very capable horse, but against some of the ones he faces here, it is tough to make him one of our picks due to the inconsistency.

#9- Compress (Cherrytree Hill Farm, ridden by R Bejarano)- It has been a storied career for Compress, winning nine of 25 career starts, and amassing over $3,100.000 in earnings. He followed up his impressive three year old season with another effective season as a four year old, which was topped off by running third in the BC Mile. That was the same spot he finished in the BC Mile the year prior as well. It was great to see him continue to go out to the track as he looks to continue to prove that he is one of the best in the game, and a victory over Clockwork Chai would definitely deliver that message. That said, he probably doesn’t have to beat him in order to accomplish that. He’s one of the favorites here.

#10- Banshee Star (Joseph Racing, ridden by A A Gallardo)- After racing the majority of his career on the main track, Banshee Star was moved to the grass two starts ago, and now has a perfect two-for-two record on the turf. The first of those two victories was an allowance right here at a mile, with an impressive winning time. He followed that up by winning the Grade 3 TAM Stakes at that race track last month. Having run third in the KYD last year, Banshee Star is no stranger to running against the very best, but this is the first time he does it on the grass. He should have a good shot, but must do it from an undesirable post.

Prediction: 3-9-6-10

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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