Juddmonte Farm's mare Proviso closed desperately in the final sixteenth of a mile to nose Fluke at the wire in an exhilarating finish to the $250,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) on the turf at rainy Santa Anita Park March 6 (VIDEO).
The first two finishers were formerly in the barn of the late trainer Bobby Frankel. Proviso became the first female to win the Kilroe in 51 runnings.
Under left-handed urging from Mike Smith, the British homebred Proviso defeated a strong field of males to register her first grade I victory for trainer Bill Mott. A group III winner in France in her final race there, Proviso won the Spinster Stakes (gr. I) on Keeneland's Polytrack in her first United States start for Frankel last October, but was disqualified and placed second.
Smith pumped his fist in victory after the tight finish. “Billy told me, ‘You’ve got to get her to relax if you can. Anything you do could set her off.’ She beat a great bunch of boys here today. I thought I won it and I pumped my fist just to sell it (to the placing judges).”
Brazilian-bred Fluke, ridden by Joe Talamo, had left Red Alert Day behind mid-stretch and appeared to be headed to victory. In spite of strong right-handed urging from Talamo, though, the Citation Handicap (gr. I) winner could not quite close the deal for trainer Humberto Ascanio, formerly Frankel's lead California assistant.
Battle of Hastings, stuck wide all the way around, closed willingly for third for Tyler Baze as the 119-pound high weight. The winning time was 1:35.31 on a course rated firm but with a little cut in the ground.
Fluke pulled Rosario to the front early while racing four wide and held the lead through moderate fractions (:23.94, :48.41, and 1:12.47) as Red Alert Day and a pulling 2-1 favorite Ever a Friend stayed right with him. Fluke floated out a bit coming into the stretch but continued to battle with the outsider Red Alert Day through the lane. He moved clear past mid-stretch as Ever a Friend, the 2008 Kilroe winner, threw in the towel. Fluke did not give in easily in the final sixteenth but just missed at the wire.
Proviso, held up early by Smith, split horses in the stretch and really dug in hard in the final furlong to get the victory.
Sent off as the third choice, Proviso earned $150,000 for her sixth win in 12 starts and has now banked $458,348 in her career. Proviso, who is out of the Woodman mare Binche, raced in France for Andre Fabre.
She was coming off a runner-up finish to Gabby's Golden Gal in the seven-furlong Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) on the Pro-Ride main track. Proviso was fourth in last fall's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I). The Santa Monica was Proviso's first race for Mott.
Proviso carried 116 pounds and paid $11.40, $6.20, and $4, while keying a $53. exacta. Fluke, making his first start since winning the 1 1/16-mile Citation at Hollywood Park Nov. 27, returned $5 and $3.40. Multiple grade II winner Battle of Hastings turned in another strong effort for trainer Jeff Mullins in his first race since finishing second in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Nov. 29. He paid $4 to show.