Winning Prize won the 2014 Frank Kilroe Mile by half a length.

Winning Prize won the 2014 Frank Kilroe Mile by half a length.

Benoit Photo

Winning Prize to Defend Kilroe Mile Title

Argentine-bred 6-year-old could win $400,000 stakes for the second straight year.

David Heerensperger and Jose Nelson's Winning Prize will look to defend his title in $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) March 7 at Santa Anita Park.

The 6-year-old son of Pure Prize took the field gate-to-wire to win last year's edition by half a length, but has faded to sixth in his last two tries, the June 14 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita and the Aug. 10 Play the King Stakes (gr. IIT) at Woodbine.

The Argentine-bred, trained by Neil Drysdale, will lose the jockey who rode him to victory in last year's Kilroe—Corey Nakatani—but will gain Santa Anita's leading rider, Rafael Bejarano, who guided the horse to a victory in the Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) in February of 2014. He'll carry the highweight of 120 pounds and break from post 3, while the rest of the 12-horse field will saddle 118.

It won't be an easy test for the defending champ, however, with several contenders who have taken down their share of purses entered.

Live Oak Plantation's 7-year-old gelding Za Approval tops the field in earnings with over $1.2 million, but Waterford Stable's Summer Front  and St. George Farm Racing's Mr. Commons are not far behind with just under $1 million apiece.

Za Approval will be ridden by Mike Smith and is a three-time grade III winner, but has been 0-for-8 in graded stakes since winning the Knickerbocker (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park in 2013. He also finished fourth behind Winning Prize in last year's Kilroe.

Another Kilroe graduate is Silentio, who was fifth in last year's edition and a nose second in 2013. Trained by Gary Mandella, the 6-year-old by Silent Name  departs post 6 Saturday with jockey Flavien Prat. He last won with a closing triumph in the Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park in 2013.

Mr. Commons, a 7-year-old by Artie Schiller , finished fourth in 2013's Kilroe and was last seen in the listed Clocker's Corner Stakes, where he crossed the wire sixth. He may show good form for trainer John Shirreffs, however, after a bullet four-furlong workout Feb. 16 (:46 4/5) and another positive breeze Feb. 25 (:47 4/5).

The horse entered with the most recent winning success is Ring Weekend, who claimed back-to-back races in New Yorkthe Sarnac Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga Race Course and the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmontduring the fall before shipping to Southern California for a sixth-place finish in the Twilight Derby (gr. IIT) Oct. 31. First-time jockey Drayden Van Dyke will get the call for trainer Graham Motion from post 10.

The horse with the most back class is likely Summer Front, the fourth-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 1. However, The 6-year-old horse trained by Christophe Clement has not won a race since the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT) in January of 2014 at Gulfstream Park.

Talco, the only colt in the field; speedy optional-claiming winner Holy Lute; Mega Heat, on a two-race optional-claiming win streak; graded turf sprint winner Home Run Kitten; Hay Dude; and Dimension complete the field.

Entries: Frank E. Kilroe Mile S. (G1T)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, March 07, 2015, Race 10

  • Grade IT
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $400,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 4:38 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
981Talco (FR)SCRATCHED0UNKNOWN-
12Hay Dude (GB)Kent J. Desormeaux118Philip D'Amato-
23Winning Prize (ARG)Rafael Bejarano120Neil D. Drysdale-
34Holy Lute (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTyler Baze118James M. Cassidy-
45Mr. Commons (KY)Martin Garcia118John A. Shirreffs-
56Silentio (KY)Flavien Prat118Gary Mandella-
67Mega Heat (CA)Corey S. Nakatani118Peter Eurton-
78Summer Front (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateVictor Espinoza118Christophe Clement-
89Home Run Kitten (KY)Gary L. Stevens118David E. Hofmans-
910Ring Weekend (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateDrayden Van Dyke118H. Graham Motion-
1011Za Approval (KY)Mike E. Smith118Mark E. Casse-
1112Dimension (GB)Joseph Talamo118Conor Murphy-