The stud fee for Calumet Farm's Bal a Bali might have just gotten a little higher.
Already listed on the Calumet roster for $10,000 and running for the first time since June of 2016, the 7-year-old son of Put It Back proved Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella's instincts right with a thrilling head victory in the $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (G1T) March 11 at Santa Anita Park.
"I gave him some time off, and they thought, if he didn't train well, he could go to stud," Mandella said. "But he was training too good to go to stud."
Shifted out and charging from fourth under Javier Castellano after a rail-skimming trip, Bal a Bali set his sights on 2016 Kilroe Mile winner What a View after that rival led throughout. Closing into fractions of :23.40, :46.89, and 1:10.12, the Mandella trainee charged down the stretch through seven-eighths in 1:21.84, and got up in time to finish the mile test on firm turf in 1:33.86.
“That is just brutal," said What a View's trainer, Kenny Black. "I thought he was home free turning for home. It looked like (jockey) Tyler (Baze) had a ton of horse. This horse has gotten really good.”
Bolo was third, 1 1/2 lengths back, followed by Ring Weekend and Conquest Enforcer.
Grade 1 winner Dortmund, making his turf debut, first start for trainer Art Sherman, and first run since a fourth in the Nov. 4 Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), faded to last in the field of six after racing third early on. Flamboyant was scratched.
“He was not (comfortable) on the turf," jockey Victor Espinoza said of Dortmund. "I think he should go back to dirt again and recover, recuperate, and I think he’s going to run big on the dirt. Big difference when you take them off the turf to the dirt. We’ll be ready for the next one.”
Sherman also said Dortmund's turf experiment would not be repeated.
“It was kind of a bad mistake, but you don’t know until you try," he admitted. "He’ll be on the dirt from now on.”
Off at odds of 9-1, Bal a Bali returned $21.20, $9.40, and $5.20. Bred by Haras Santa Maria de Araras out of the Clackson (BRZ) mare In My Side (BRZ), he won the Brazilian Triple Crown amidst acing 11 of his 12 starts in Brazil—which included four group 1 victories—then was purchased privately by Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm. He beat laminitis in 2014 before moving to Mandella's barn in 2015.
Bal a Bali won his U.S. debut in the 2015 American Stakes (G3T) and took a Del Mar allowance in the same year, but had not captured another stakes until Saturday. His last run was an eighth on dirt in The Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). He did have a four-race run where he placed in California graded grass stakes, however, with a second in the 2015 Seabiscuit Handicap (G2T) followed by third-place finishes in the San Gabriel (G2T), Kilroe Mile, and San Francisco Mile (G3T).
"The horse got sour last year, and with a little time off and some freshening up, he responded and came back good,” said Mandella.