Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Milwaukee Brew was doing well, but running a slight fever the day after his historic repeat victory in the $1 million race, trainer Bobby Frankel reported Sunday morning. However, the conditioner wasn't too concerned about the 6-year-old son of Wild Again missing much training.
"It won't cost him any serious time," Frankel said. "He's doing OK and he's calmed down. We'll still point to the Californian (gr. II on June 14 at Hollywood Park) and the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I on July 13) after that."
In spite of good weather, the smallest crowd in Santa Anita Handicap history, 25,160, was on hand for Saturday's race. The previous low of 26,015 came in 1995, when it was raining.
Frankel was still riding the high of training only the second horse in history to win back-to-back runnings of Santa Anita's premier event, joining 1981-82 victor John Henry. Milwaukee Brew is the only horse to have ever won the Big 'Cap twice outright. John Henry was awarded the win in 1982 after the disqualification of actual winner Perrault.
"I felt like the cat that swallowed the canary," Frankel said Sunday morning from his Hollywood Park headquarters. "I was really excited. Winning the race by just a head was a lot more exciting than last year (when Milwaukee Brew won the event by 4 1/2 lengths)."
Runner-up Congaree was, "sad," Sunday morning according to his trainer, Bob Baffert. The 5-year-old son of Arazi was beaten a head in the 1 1/4-mile Big 'Cap after a stirring stretch battle while giving the winner a five-pound weight advantage.
"He's doing well, but he's sad. He knows he didn't win," Baffert said. "I don't know where we'll run him next, but I know it won't be in a handicap. I don't know if the Met Mile (gr. I) is a good idea either. He proved himself at a mile and a quarter so I don't think it'd be the best thing to shorten him back up to a mile."
Baffert, meanwhile, took Congaree's defeat in stride.
"He was just a head away from his own bobble head," the trainer said. "He looks great this morning, but the five pounds (weight difference, 124 to 119), that was the whole deal. That was the whole key. Congaree ran hard, but to give a horse like him (Milwaukee Brew) weight is ridiculous. It's not my fault he (Frankel) forgot to put blinkers on him. (Frankel had blinkers on Milwaukee Brew for his Big 'Cap victory)."
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who conditioned John Henry, said winning the Big 'Cap in consecutive years takes a good horse and one that can handle the surface.
"Milwaukee Brew is a horse that likes this track," McAnally said. "But he ran a big race, no question. Bobby (Frankel) knew what he was doing."
Kudos and Pleasantly Perfect, third and fourth in the Big 'Cap, respectively, were both well Sunday, according to trainer Richard Mandella's assistant, Becky Witzman. Mandella was in at Fair Grounds to saddle Strub Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Olmodovar for Sunday's New Orleans Handicap.
"(Pleasantly Perfect) ran kind of flat and I'm not too sure why," Witzman said. "But he came back OK. Kudos tried so hard, too."Santa Anita's Ed Golden contributed to this report