Val Royal Wins Oak Tree Mile; May Try Breeders' Cup

From Santa Anita Park
Val Royal rallied from last for a two-length victory in a brisk 1:33.21 on a firm turf course to win the $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile.

Ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr. at 119 pounds, Val Royal returned $8.20, $3.80 and $3.80. Julio Canani is the trainer for Hollywood producer David Milch.

Thady Quill, Eddie Delahoussaye riding at 119 pounds, came from off the pace to finish second and paid $4 and $3.20. Pace-setting IĆ­ve Decided, Tyler Baze aboard at 119 pounds, held on gamely to finish third and returned $3.40.

Redattore, the 9-to-5 favorite, finished fourth, and was followed by Spinelessjellyfish and Lonesome Dude. Lazy Lode and Auction House were scratched.

Bred in France, the 5-year-old Val Royal has a 6-2-0 record from nine starts. The $120,000 first prize increased his earnings to $515,644.

"This horse has an amazing turn of foot," said winning rider Valdivia. "(Trainer) Julio (Canani) is a master."

Canani said he and owner Milch will decide later whether Val Royal will be supplemented at a cost of $90,000 to the Breeders' Cup Mile. Canani won the Oak Tree Mile in 1999 with Silic, who went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Mile. Last year's Oak Tree Mile winner, War Chant last year, also won the Breeders' Cup Mile.

"If the horse comes out well," said Milch, "off his performance he deserves a chance."

Canani said they were initially pointing Val Royal toward Monday's Henry P. Russell but decided to contest the Mile because of how he was training. "He was training unbelievable," Canani said. "This horse has so much ability, it's scary."

(Chart, Equibase)