Caracortado, the California-bred gelding whose rags-to-riches story began with five consecutive wins and a shot on last year's Triple Crown trail, has moved to the turf where he is one of the favorites for the March 5 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT).
Trained by his co-owner and breeder, Mike Machowsky, the 4-year-old’s half-length victory Jan. 29 in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita put the son of Cat Dreams on the turf circuit. His wins last year included the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) on Santa Anita's former synthetic track last winter.
“I’d say he’s more effective on grass, probably because of his turn of foot, the way he accelerates,” Machowsky said.
His rider, Joe Talamo, is more emphatic. “He’s a freak on turf and has such a tremendous turn of foot,” he said.
Under Talamo, Caracortado closed from 9 1/2 lengths back to take the Sunshine Millions event while inching away at the end as the third choice at 3-1. Jeranimo, the 7-5 favorite who wound up fourth after a dull finish, is one of his rivals in the $300,000 Kilroe.
Caracortado is now two-for-two on turf. He will break from post 4 among 10 competitors in the Kilroe, which precedes the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on a program that also includes the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I). The Kilroe is set to go at 4 p.m. PST.
Caracortado has earned $491,520 from seven wins in 11 starts for Machowsky and Mr. and Mrs. Don Blahut.
“He’s one of those horses that gets better as he gets older,” said Machowsky. “But I never expected him to accomplish what he has so far.”
Jeranimo returns with David Flores taking over in the saddle, replacing Rafael Bejarnao, who will ride Fluke. The 5-year-old son of Congaree , trained by Michael Pender for B. J. Wright, dominated Santa Anita’s San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) on turf Dec. 27 and beat Fluke in an allowance race a month earlier.
Fluke, a graded winner in 2009, missed winning last year's Kilroe by a nose to the mare Provisoafter setting a contested pace.
No worse than second in his last seven starts, he comes off of a three-quarter of a length win in the Thunder Road Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 5. The 6-year-old Brazilian-bred, in his first start since losing to Jeranimo Nov. 27, lifted his trainer, Humberto Ascanio, out of a 46-race dry spell with the victory. Fluke, who has earned $457,948 from a 6-6-0 record in 15 starts for owner Patricia Bozano, drew post 2.
Also in the Kilroe field is Acclamation, winner of the Jim Murray (gr. IIT) and Charles Whittingham (gr. IT) handicaps at Hollywood Park last year for trainer Don Warren. The 5-year-old son of Unusual Heat has been absent since a sixth-place finish in the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) at Del Mar July 24.
Great Britain-bred Sebastian Flyte shortens up for trainer Ben Cecil following a third-place finish behind Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus in the 10-furlong San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 17. He lost the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) by a nose prior to that.
Square Eddie, an allowance winner at Santa Anita Jan. 14, gets back on turf following a last-place finish in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) one month ago. J Paul Reddam's 5-year-old son of Smart Strike , trained by Doug O'Neill, has one win in four starts on grass.
$300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (gr. IT, Race 9, 4 p.m.), 4 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Liberian Freighter (CA), M Garcia, 118, N D Drysdale
2. Fluke (BRZ), R Bejarano, 118, H Ascanio
3. Acclamation (CA), C Santiago Reyes, 120, D Warren
4. Caracortado (CA), J Talamo, 118, M Machowsky
5. Square Eddie (ON), J Rosario, 118, D F O'Neill
6. Sebastian Flyte (GB), G K Gomez, 118, B D Cecil
7. Lieve (BRZ), C S Nakatani, 118, A C Avila
8. Times Gone By (KY), V Espinoza, 118, R E Mandella
9. Jeranimo (FL), D R Flores, 118, M Pender
10. Gallant Son (KY), M E Smith, 118, F Lucarelli