Pozo de Luna's Argentine-bred Suggestive Boy held off a late-flying Silentio by a nose in a thrilling edition of the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park March 2, giving Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, 80, win number 700 at the South California oval (VIDEO).
"Seven-hundred (career wins) at Santa Anita? I thought it was 700 for everywhere," joked McAnally, who has actually saddled 2,566 winners overall. "I've always liked Santa Anita. This and Del Mar are the two best tracks in the world."
Suggestive Boy would seem to agree, having registered wins at both locations. The 5-year-old son of Easing Along came off a powerful victory in the Feb. 2 Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) to take the Kilroe Mile while favored at 3-2, finishing up the mile on the turf in 1:32.89 under jockey Joe Talamo. Prior to the Arcadia score, he ran seventh behind Wise Dan's record-setting run in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
"The only thing I told (Talamo) was to keep him relaxed no matter what the pace is," McAnally said. "As a rule, he likes a good pace up front because he has good turn of foot turning for home. Turning for home today I really thought we had a good chance because he was in the clear and that's all it takes. A good horse will make anybody."
Suggestive Boy was fourth behind a :22.88 quarter set by 21-1 shot Vagabond Shoes, then pulled his way up to third between horses under jockey Joe Talamo as the front-runner went the half in :46.64 followed by Forest Mouse.
Talamo angled Suggestive Boy out three from the rail leaving the second turn and went to the left-handed stick after taking a short lead after they completed three-quarters in 1:09.97. Silentio was finishing fast under jockey Rafael Bejarano, coming home the final eighth of a mile in :11.14 seconds, but just missed the bob on the outside. Fed Biz
, who was trying turf and racing against his elders for the first time, was 1 1/4 lengths back in third in a fine effort.
"I've always wanted to win a big stakes for Mr. McAnally," Talamo said. "He did an unbelievable job with this horse, he's very fresh today, and I just had to point him in the right direction. That horse was coming at me and I had to get after (Suggestive Boy) But you know, this horse is such a fighter, and he kept giving me more and more."
Suggestive Boy returned $5, $3.40, and $2.80 while 5-1 Silentio paid $4.60 and $3.40 and Fed Biz brought $4.40 at 6-1. Mr. Commons, Forest Mouse, Akkadian, Wilkinson, and Vagabond Shoes completed the order of finish.
"It's going to take a hell of a horse to beat Suggestive Boy," said trainer Gary Mandella, who saddled Silentio. "If he stays that good all year, him and Wise Dan are probably the best turf milers around. At the eighth pole, I thought my horse was just kind of lengthening his stride, and maybe we'd get lucky and Joe (Talamo) would move too early.
"But watching these horses gallop out, in another sixteenth of a mile, I still don't think my horse is going to get by. I think Ron's horse is just really good right now, and my horse ran as good as he can, and he's just two inches less horse."
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was pleased with the first-time turf effort of Fed Biz.
"He ran a very good race," Smith said. "He ran the kind of race that gives you some hope for the future on the grass. I just like the way he handled it. Those were some of the best milers in the country and he only beat me by a length and a half, two lengths max. I kind of had to wait for room. I never had a clear, clear sailing, so room to improve."
McAnally had fond words for the late racing secretary Jimmy Kilroe, for whom the race was named.
"Jimmy (Kilroe) was a part of Santa Anita. That's very, very important. Jimmy always did a lot for me and hopefully I did a lot for him. He was the best," he said.
Bred in Argentina by Haras Futuro SRL out of the Horse Chestnut
mare Suffrage, Suggestive Boy has now won seven races with two seconds from 13 starts, with earnings of $684,654. His six initial wins at San Isidro in 2011 included four group I events, and he also took the 2012 Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar | BloodHorse.com Track Profile">Del Mar
after making his U.S. debut with a solid second to Jeranimo
in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) last June at Betfair Hollywood Park
. The winning owner is Jose Cerillo of Lomas de Chapultepec, Mexico, who races as Pozo de Luna.