Trained by Gary Mandella, the Japanese-bred son of Sunday Silence relished the new surface and the cutback to the seven-furlong distance, winning by four lengths. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Silent Name last won on April 8, 2006, in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita turf, and had lost six in a row since. The winning time, 1:26 1/5, was one-fifth of a second off the Polytrack record at Keeneland.
Mandella said he had the idea to run Silent Name in the Commonwealth when the horse was training at Keeneland in preparation for last fall's NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
"This horse trained exceptionally well over the surface and when I had him here in the fall for the Shadwell (gr. IT)," he said. "We could see then that if the decision was made to leave him in training another year and not stand him, then we should definitely bring him back here and try some sort of race on this surface. It's one of those rare occasions where you think about something six months ahead of time and it actually comes to fruition."
Silent Name broke well and was forwardly placed while three wide but in hand for Nakatani as High Finance set a solid pace of :23 25, :46 2/5 and 1:09 2/5. Silent Name swooped to the lead on the far turn and kicked clear in the stretch, increasing his advantage under urging.
Lewis Michael, who reached even terms with the leaders while racing wide on the turn for jockey Rene Douglas, could not keep up with Silent Name but took second by a half-length over the late charging Steel Light and Garrett Gomez. Midnight Lute, the 11-10 choice with Edgar Prado aboard, made a mild move in the stretch but settled for fourth, five lengths behind the winner.
"He is a tremendous horse," Nakatani said. "I think maybe the Met Mile would be a good spot for him next."
All of Silent Name's prior races were on grass and the 5-year-old bay was headed for the breeding shed after a sixth-place finish Nov. 24 in the Citation Handicap (gr. IT). However he returned to action March 3 in the Frank Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT), leading in the pace before finishing third, a neck behind the winning Kip Deville at Santa Anita. The win, worth $248,000 to owners Stronach Stables, Wertheimer and Frere, improved Silent Name's record to 6-2-4 in 19 outings and earnings of $636,431. Wertheimer and Frere bred Silent Name, who is out of the Danehill mare Danzigaway.
"I think he's a very good grass miler, but I think he's a superior one-turn horse," Mandella said. "I've been wanting to try this horse in a big one-turn race for a long time. Today we got our shot and we made the most of it; we got lucky."
The fourth choice of the public, he paid $14.40, $7.20 and $5.20. Lewis Michael returned $11.80 and $6.60 and completed a $224.60 exacta. Steel Light was $5.20 to show.
After Midnight Lute came Gin and Sin, Buddy Got Even, Ramsgate, River City Rebel, Ryan's for Real, High Finance and Deep Canyon. Straight Line scratched.
"He didn't break real clear and we got behind horses following a slow pace," Prado complained after the favorite faltered. "I was able to pick him up and get out but he didn't have enough kick left at the end."