Fluke registered the second grade I win of his career when he outfought favored Caracortado by a head in an exciting finish to the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita turf March 5 (VIDEO) .
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the stalking Fluke found a hole at the rail near midstretch and opened up a lead, then held off Caracortado, the 6-5 favorite in the field of 10. Caracortado, next to last leaving the far turn, split rivals through the lane to challenge on the far outside and just missed. Jeranimo finished third. The final time was 1:33.50 over a firm turf.
Humberto Ascanio trains Fluke, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred son of Wild Event owned by Patricia Bozano. Haras Doce Vale bred Fluke, who is out of the De Quest mare Uff-Uff.
Fluke ended Ascanio's 46-race losing streak when he captured the one-mile Thunder Road Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 5. Formerly trained by Bobby Frankel, Fluke won the Citation Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park in November 2009, just days after the Hall of Fame conditioner died of Lymphoma.
“You couldn’t have a better trip than that," Ascanio said. "He saved all the ground. If he went outside, I don’t know what would have happened."
The race was marred by the breakdown of Lieve, who fell on the backstretch. The Brazilian-bred horse was euthanized.
Grade I winner Acclamation, making his first start since the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) at Del Mar in July, set the early pace with a hard-pulling Liberian Freighter close by in second while clicking off swift fractions of :22.45, :46.23, and 1:09.98. Fluke, stalking along the inside near mid-pack, waited for room while Joe Talamo, aboard Caracortado, patiently held his charge near the rear of the pack.
Acclamation continued to lead into the stretch and held a narrow advantage at the eighth pole, but he left room along the inside for the advancing Fluke, who charged through to take the lead. Fluke inched away from there.
"I let him go at his speed and figured out my position on the first turn," said Bejarano, who replaced Talamo on Fluke. "I always had a lot of confidence because my horse relaxes well in the beginning of the race. That’s why I had a lot of horse and was able to finish strong at the end. I stayed on the rail and my horse showed me a big kick. Caracortado kept running, but my horse had the best trip in the race.”
Caracortado was all heart rallying from well out of it but came up just short while still gaining as they reached the wire together. It was a half-length back to a willing Jeranimo and David Flores in third.
“He had to dodge that horse that broke down early on," Talamo said of the runner-up. "We were fortunate enough to not alter course too bad."
Fluke's Kilroe win was worth $180,000. The dark bay or brown horse improved his career mark to 7-6-0 in 16 starts with earnings of $637,948.
Sent off as the second choice, Fluke carried 118 pounds and paid $7.40, $3.20, and $2.60. Caracortado, coming off a win in the Sunshine Millions Turf Jan. 29, lost for the first time in three tries on turf and returned $2.80 and $2.40. The exacta was $15.20. Jeranimo was $3.60 to show.