March 5, 2022
SA Race #12 19:10$500.000
1-Mile Turf 4YO+ 123 lbs
Track Record-1:31.64 (Trading Punches-2009)
Stakes Record-1:31.75 (The Jamaican-2013)
Going as the second of the three G1’s at SA on Saturday, the G1 Kilroe Mile drew an overflow field of 13. Should any of the 12 in the main body of the field have to withdraw, Plucky Flash will fill the outside stall for the $500.000 turf contest. John Henry and Australia Wide are the only trainers in HRP history to win two of these events while three jockeys have won twice each.
This year’s field sees four runners entering off of graded wins, including Immoral who took the season’s first G1 in the PWCT at GP in January. Iron Nation couldn’t hold off Immoral in January but he is in fine form with three straight exacta finishes in G1s and is a former winner of the G1 BC Mile. The eleven males will all carry 123 pounds, but Yankee Stadium will carry five pounds less as the only filly in the race. Befitting its status, the G1 Kilroe Mile has drawn an excellent field this year so let’s have a look:
#1 Gran Z (Maxmillion Farm/T.C. Baze): Conditioner is well-known for producing results in these types of events, but the rail horse has not raced on the lawn in almost three years. He has kept the best company available on the main track and is a proven G1 winner. Took a main track allowance just two weeks ago so he will have a couple of question marks (surface and quick return) to consider when trying handicap this one. He does own a maiden win over soft turf to his credit, but the 6yo couldn’t beat allowance and NG foes on the turf as a sophomore. Still, there were plenty of options on the main track this weekend where he would have been a good fit, so expect him to at least show he can compete with this crew.
#2 Cherokee Surprise (TwinTowersRacing/R.M. Hernandez): 5yo has gone winless in three starts since taking a WO G1 back in September. All three of those subsequent starts came against similar to what he faces here, and his best finish is a 5th beaten two lengths. That is definitely his m.o. as he will throw multiple clunkers between eye-popping wins. Saturday may be his day but really can’t blame anyone for letting this guy beat them at the windows.
#3 Ptyrranical (Arindel/D. Moran): 4yo ran 12 times as a sophomore and competed in a GP G1 in January, so the February break was probably much appreciated. He took a SA G2 before finishing 2nd in a DMR G1 to close out that sophomore campaign and while he didn’t factor in the outcome back in January, he did pick off a handful of runners down the lane. Appears that the screws will be cranked a little tighter for this spot and he could be sitting on a big effort. However, he is a newly-turned 4yo who will run at equal weights with the other males while having to give the lone filly five pounds on the scale. Add all of that up and you have a bit of a head-scratcher. Can’t fault anyone who backs/lays this guy, but think we’ll have a clearer picture of what to expect from him after they cross the wire on Saturday.
#4 Kid Commander (Allinthegate/V. Espinoza): Going back to May of 2020, this 6yo has hit the board in 14 straight turf races while winning seven of them. Diving a bit deeper, only once in 18 turf starts has he failed to hit the board, and that came in his only effort over an off surface. A model of consistency, for sure, but all of that work came at races covering 5f, 5.5f, and 6f. He did break his maiden going a mile on the main track way back in 2019, but this will be his first two-turn assignment on grass. With this inner-third draw and his obvious speed, this guy should be fully capable of sitting right off of the pace early. He may not be the pace-setter, but believe he will be in front at some point, and he has shown a strong affinity for getting his picture taken. Win contender on the stretch out.
#5 Yankee Stadium (Smokey Stover/E.T. Baird 118): 4yo filly will take on the boys while receiving a five-pound break on the scales. This is move that is fairly popular at the current moment, but this spot would have been a logical place for her regardless of what was happening in the game. This will be her third start for the current connections after being purchased for $1,000.000 following a runner-up effort in the G1 BC F&M Turf so they should be well-aware of what they have. She is cutting-back to a mile here for the first time since a SAR win in August and this could be her best distance. Don’t think this is a “one off” facing the boys and feel like we will see her in a number of these spots throughout her campaign. Fully expect her to have a say in the outcome.
#6 Iron Nation (Nakamura Stables/V.R. Carrasco): One of the author’s favorite horses in training, this 6yo brings his race (with very few exceptions) with him every time he takes the track. G1 BC Mile winner as a sophomore, he spent his 4yo season splitting time between the mile ranks and longer distances. His presence here could signal that he will be a bit more prominent in this division this season. Classy guy will be making his 8th consecutive start at the highest level, and he has taken home his fair share of these events during his remarkable career. He just missed in the season’s first G1 at GP and he looks fully capable of turning the tables for this match-up. Serious racehorse.
#7 Immoral (Mb Stables/A. Beschizza): The winner of the season’s first G1, the instructions for this guy are pretty simple: just put him in the gate. 5yo is a G1 winner on both surfaces and almost always fires his best shot. Not a lot of chinks in the armor as he is equally adept laying close and coming from well back. If you’re really, really looking for a “negative”, this may be just a bit short of his best trip…..but he is a G1 winner at a mile on the lawn. Has shown a propensity for stringing high-quality wins together and fully expect him to play a major role in determining the outcome on Saturday. Hard to fault this guy and have to assume a lot of people will pin their hopes here.
#8 Cold Weather Rider (Night Rider Stables/U. Rispoli): 8yo had six seasons of racing and 51-starts under his belt when he made a winning two-turn debut in February’s G3 at SA. That win from off-the-pace was enough to convince his conditioner to spot him here. He’s a multi-time BC participant in the turf sprint division, so the quality and class are obvious. Now, two questions persist: why did it take so long to stretch him out and who did he beat in February? As to the first question, you don’t fix what isn’t broken is an acceptable answer and his bankroll backs that up. But the second question is legitimate. If he bests this group, it is safe to assume that we’ll see him in these spots more often; however, an up the track performance may mean it’s back to sprinting. Your call on where you think he ends up next.
#9 Roodey (Maxmillion Farm/R.E. Eramia): It’s been about 15-months since this guy didn’t finish in one of the top two spots. Now, the 5yo has made a steady progression through every level in the game, he won his first graded race at TAM in his latest start, and is another who seems to adapt well to every situation he gets placed into, but this is another step up in competition. Add in the fact that all of this current run of form has taken place over longer distances, and this assignment looks even more daunting. Hard to go against a horse as “in form” as this guy, but even a minor share may require a career best.
#10 King Que Niagra (D J C Racing Stables/Mar. Garcia): Runner-up effort in G2 4yo seasonal finale was an improvement over what he showed in the fall. Winning G2 effort in 5yo debut was proof that he is a different animal right now. Sometimes, the light switch goes on and stays on and this is a classy horse that may have just gotten over the worst stretch of form of his career. All of that said, this trip at this level has always been a thorn in his side. His works can’t be questioned, and, if he can conquer this group, he will have multiple paths available going forward. Still, this is an extremely deep, talented field and we’re going to make him prove he can do it at this trip.
#11 The Grandmaster (John Henry/S.X. Bridgmohan): 7yo is in an 0-2 count in this event, but he’ll be swinging away at this third crack. Interestingly, while this will be his third start in this race, it will only be his fifth route start in a soon-to-be 43-race career. He’s won a BC and a lot of money going shorter on the lawn; however, with the racing calendar being what it is, you can’t blame him for trying this again. In his first two Kilroe starts, he lost some positions, but didn’t lose any ground as they approached the wire. If he can figure out the right tactics from this draw, he could maybe grab a smaller share of the pie.
#12 Sunlander (Nakamura Stables/J. Alvarado): Reigning BC Turf champ grabbed 4th in his seasonal debut and shortens-up another eighth of a mile for this assignment. 6yo was a runner-up in this race as a 4yo, so he knows his way around the SA oval. He likes to settle into a rhythm before unleashing his burst, so he will have to hope that some pace develops in front of him; however, he did go gate-to-wire in a 10f G2 just before the BC. The pace dynamics should be much different for this, so he will have to navigate a trip out of purgatory to reach the wire first. Looks like there is plenty left in the tank, but others look more logical for Saturday’s assignment.
Final Analysis: This is a loaded field with runners that will be winning races all over the country this season. We’ll say 5-6-7-4 is how they cross the wire in the G1 Kilroe Mile. Good luck everyone!