by Jon White
Ever a Friend, dominant winner of the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park March 1 for trainer Mike Mitchell, worked four furlongs in :52 2/5 under Tyler Baze at Hollywood Park March 31.
“He’s going great,” Mitchell said. “All I told Tyler was to go an easy half--around :50--and gallop out easy. This horse is so easy to train because he’s not a run-off.
“He’s going to run next in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT). He’ll probably run only twice more before the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT). After the Shoemaker Mile, we’re thinking about the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar.
“This is the best horse I’ve ever trained. He could run tomorrow. So I’m taking it easy with him right now, because we’ve got all of April and most of May before he runs again.”
The Shoemaker Mile will be run at Hollywood Park May 26.
Ever a Friend took the Kilroe Mile by 3 3/4 lengths in the biggest win of his career. It was his second victory since joining the Mitchell barn after being claimed for $62,500 at Hollywood Park Dec. 6 by Jeff and Steve Ustin and Dan Capen.
The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelded son of Crafty Friend—Never Is a Promise, by Capote, also won the Impressive Luck Handicap at Santa Anita Dec. 31.
While Ever a Friend has this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile as an objective, Kip Deville, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile, drilled six furlongs in a rapid 1:11 March 31 at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida for trainer Rick Dutrow. Dutrow has said Kip Deville will probably make his 2008 debut in the Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland April 11.
Romance Is Diane, another grade I winner from the Mitchell barn, also was on the Hollywood Park work tab March 31. She was timed in :36 for three furlongs, her first workout since finishing third in the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Jan. 13. Undefeated Zenyatta won the El Encino.
“She just had a nice, easy breeze,” Mitchell said of Romance Is Diane. “I passed the La Canada with her because I didn’t want to run her again against (trainer John) Shirreffs’ filly (Zenyatta). And then it turned out Zenyatta didn’t run in that race. But that’s OK. It didn’t hurt to freshen my filly anyway.
“We’d like her to earn enough points for the (grade I) Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic). Our main goal for her at Hollywood Park is the Vanity Handicap (gr. I).”
The Vanity is scheduled for July 5. Mitchell said it’s possible Romance Is Diane will run once before the Vanity, perhaps in the Milady Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) May 31. “But we’re not going to push her to run her before the Vanity,” Mitchell said. “If the Vanity’s her next race, so be it.”
Owned and bred by Senji Nishimura, Romance Is Diane won Hollywood Park’s Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) Dec. 1, 2007. The California-bred daughter of In Excess—Romantic Fibs, by Prized, also took 2006 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I).