French import Cacique, an Irish-bred full brother to 2005 Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Intercontinental trained by Bobby Frankel, is the probable favorite among 14 entered for the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
Racing against top competition in France, the 5-year-old posted a 5-2-1 record in 11 races for earnings of $467,899. The Kilroe, on the turf course, will be televised live locally between 3 and 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Central.
On paper and by word of mouth, Cacique is the "now" horse in the Kilroe, but Frankel prefers to wait and see.
Cacique, a 5-year-old Irish-bred son of Danehill, will make his United States debut in the Kilroe, in which he was assigned high weight of 117 pounds. He has not raced since Sept. 4, when he finished seventh in the one-mile Prix de Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I).
"He's a hard one to judge," Frankel said of the three-time group winner in France, where he posted a 122 for his best Timeform rating. "I'd like to see him run. He doesn't train real brilliantly like one that wants to go fast in the mornings, but he's doing well and he's acting great."
Cacique - "ruler, czar or sultan" - is owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms. The dark bay or brown horse has a 5-2-1 record from 11 starts with earnings of $467,899.
Milk It Mick, second at 28-1 in his United States debut in the San Marcos (gr. IIT) Jan. 22, steps up to grade I competition for trainer Jim Cassidy, who is optimistic the 5-year-old English-bred horse is up to the task.
"He's doing tremendous," Cassidy said of Milk It Mick, who finished a length behind multiple graded stakes winner The Tin Man in the San Marcos. "I'm very happy with him. He couldn't be doing any better."
Winner of the seven-furlong Darly Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket in October 2003, Milk It Mick has a 5-4-4 record from 21 starts, with earnings of $418,752 for owner Paul Dixon of Notts, England.
Senor Swinger, coming off a Feb. 8 victory in the one-mile Thunder Road at Santa Anita in his first start in five months, could become a millionaire if he runs first or second in the Kilroe Mile. Senor Swinger drew No. 14 post, but that might not be a disadvantage.
Horses from the extreme outside post have won the Kilroe in two of the last five years, Decarchy from No. 12 in 2002 and Sweet Return from No. 14 in 2004.
"We're hoping to go over a million this week," trainer Bob Baffert said. "Most of his wins came back east on a softer turf, so I think the fact that the turf got some rain will help a little bit. He likes softer ground.
"He came out of (the Thunder Road) great, he's doing great, so we're looking forward to running."
Senor Swinger, a 6-year-old gray son of El Prado
, has a 10-1-3 record from 29 starters, with earnings of $940,742 for his owner, the Estate of Robert Lewis and Beverly Lewis.
The 6-year-old Buckland Manor, a Bien Bien horse, returns to the grass, where he has won four of 12 lifetime and more than $300,000. He lost by a length to Leroidesanimaux while finishing second in last year's Kilroe.
Oak Tree Derby (gr. II) winner Aragorn, the multiple grade II hero Willow O Wisp, grade II victor Toasted, and grade III winners Osidy and Geronimo help make the Kilroe an extremely competitive affair.$300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT, Race 7, 3 p.m.), 4 & Up (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Buckland Manor (KY), 115, Victor Espinoza
2. Toasted (KY), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
3. Chinese Dragon (KY), 115, Mike Smith
4. Osidy (KY), 114, Alex O. Solis
5. Cacique (IRE), 117, Patrick Valenzuela
6. Terroplane (FR), 115, Garrett Gomez
7. Aragorn (IRE), 116, Corey Nakatani
8. Charmo (FR), 114, David Flores
9. We All Love Aleyna (FL), 114, Antonio Castanon
10. Geronimo (CHI), 115, Tyler Baze
11. Willow O Wisp (FL), 116, Martin Pedroza
12. Drum Major (KY), 114, Jon Court
13. Milk It Mick (GB), 114, Kent Desormeaux
14. Senor Swinger (KY), 116, Aaron Gryder