Milk It Mick, winner of the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) in his last start one month ago, gets another stern test Saturday when he faces nine rivals in the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) over the same Santa Anita turf course he has run so well over this season.
A group I winner as a 2-year-old in England, the son of Milkom, now 5, won for the first time since then with a hard-fought head victory in the Kilroe, at the same distance as the Arcadia, at odds of 12-1. In his previous start for trainer James Cassidy this year, Milk It Mick missed by a length to the veteran campaigner The Tin Man in the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos Handicap (gr. IIT) at 28-1.
Milk It Mick must overcome the rail post, which could be difficult with his tracking style, and loses the services of jockey Kent Desormeaux, who has moved east to compete. But he overcame post 12 to win the Kilroe and new jockey David Flores has been able to work Milk It Mick in the last few weeks, including a quick five furlongs in :58 3/5 on March 23, the fastest of 76 works that morning. They came back with five-furlong drill in 1:00 1/5 on March 31.
The 120-pound high weight is Sweet Return, who won back-to-back grade I races last year for Ron McAnally but has been off for six months. Regular rider Alex Solis returns to ride the 6-year-old, an earner of more than $1.5 million who often runs well fresh and finished second in the Arcadia last year, one length behind Singletary.
Chinese Dragon, who was nosed for second in the Kilroe after overcoming a slow break with a powerful late effort, and Terroplane, who finished fifth in the Kilroe after also making a strong late bid, join a tough Arcadia field. Chinese Dragon was undefeated in four prior starts on the Santa Anita lawn.
The Japanese-bred Silent Name, a 4-year-old son of Sunday Silence, won his United States debut, a one-mile classified allowance event March 12, by three-quarters of a length over Arcadia rivals Runaway Dancer and Helm Bank, second and third, respectively. $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 4:32 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Milk It Mick (GB), 117, David R. Flores
2. Becrux (ITY), 114, Julio A. Garcia
3. Tedo (GER), 114, David Cohen
4. Terroplane (FR), 115, Aaron T. Gryder
5. Runaway Dancer (KY), 115, Alex Bisono
6. Silent Name (JPN), 116, Rafael Bejarano
7. Sweet Return (GB), 120, Alex O. Solis
8. Chinese Dragon (KY), 116, Corey S. Nakatani
9. Capitano (PA), 114, Jon K. Court
10. Helm Bank (GB), 113, Tyler Baze