The 6-year-old son of Wild Again went in company with stablemate Nose the Trade and the pair remained on nearly equal terms, with Milwaukee Brew on the outside for the entire four furlongs. They crossed the wire simultaneously. The final time for both tied as the 27th fastest of the 52 who went a half-mile Wednesday morning.
Milwaukee Brew suffered from a virus for several weeks following his second straight victory in Santa Anita's premier event. He returned to training a couple weeks ago.
"He was really, really sick," Bobby Frankel's assistant, Humberto Ascanio, said. "He had a fever of like 104 degrees for a while and it took him a long time to get back to his old self. He's in good shape now, thank goodness."
Milwaukee Brew was expected to use the June 14 Californian Stakes (gr. II) as a springboard to the July 13 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). Both are part of a 2003 campaign designed to set him up for a run in the Oct. 25 World Thoroughbred Championship Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) over a Santa Anita main track he's particularly fond of. According to Frankel, both the Californian and Gold Cup are still options and will depend on how he trains over the next couple of weeks.
"I just don't know right now," Frankel said. "It's still a bit away so I'm just going to wait and see."
Milwaukee Brew, who has earned $2,786,612 with a career line of 22-7-4-5, joined John Henry as the only two-time winner of the Santa Anita Handicap when he defeated Congaree by a head. He also won last year's Californian and the 2000 editions of the Ohio Derby (gr. II) and Marine Stakes. He has placed in eight other graded stakes events, four of which were grade one.