July 21, 2024

Gold Phoenix rises in Kilroe Mile; Quattroelle follows up in Buena Vista

Gold Phoenix wins the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Before Stilleto Boy surprised Saturday’s Santa Anita H. (G1), the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) also witnessed an upset. The Santa Anita turf feature was supposed to be all about even-money favorite Hong Kong Harry, but his 10.80-1 stablemate Gold Phoenix jumped up in his seasonal reappearance. The earlier turf stakes on Big ‘Cap Day, the Buena Vista (G2), produced a more predictable result courtesy of Quattroelle.

Kilroe Mile (G1)

Although Hong Kong Harry was the one to beat in the $501,500 Kilroe, his trainer Phil D’Amato had three other logical players. Gold Phoenix was the least exposed, with just 10 starts under his belt, and the freshest. Last seen finishing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland, the chestnut gelding had been on an upward curve in the Southern California turf division. His graded stakes appearances came over further – a victory in the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar H. (G2) and placings in the Charles Whittingham (G2) and John Henry Turf Championship (G2).

Yet Gold Phoenix’s pedigree suggested that he could be effective at a mile. By Belardo, the Irish-bred is out of the Mizzen Mast mare Magnifica, a full sister to 2016 Stewards’ Cup (G1) winner Giant Treasure (formerly known as Sea Defence) and multiple Grade 2 vixen Jibboom (whose tallies include the 2009 Buena Vista).

Patiently handled by new rider Kazushi Kimura, Gold Phoenix bided his time a little more than three lengths off the pace. Hong Kong Harry, on the other hand, lay closer than usual as the front-running Air Force Red rattled off fractions of :23.08, :47.06, and 1:10.55 on a course listed as good.

D’Amato’s Masteroffoxhounds chased, and Hong Kong Harry joined in pursuit in earnest on the far turn. The favorite worked his way into a contending position in the stretch, yet labored to try to get past Air Force Red.

Making eye-catching headway wider out was Du Jour, from last under Frankie Dettori, and Cabo Spirit was also staying on menacingly. Right in the midst of that foursome came Gold Phoenix, who flew to thrust his neck in front in 1:34.45.

Du Jour pulled three-quarters of a length clear of Cabo Spirit, and Hong Kong Harry checked in another neck astern in fourth. Air Force Red was relegated to fifth. Next came Masteroffoxhounds, fellow D’Amato runner Balnikhov, and Royal Ship. Irideo was withdrawn.

Gold Phoenix rewarded his loyalists with $23.60 while enhancing his record to 11-4-3-3, $675,212. The lightly-raced five-year-old races for Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables, and Marsha Naify. Little Red Feather is also involved in another partnership as co-owners of Balnikhov (with Madaket Stables and Old Bones Racing Stable).

Buena Vista (G2)

The stakes action on Big ‘Cap Day started with the $201,000 Buena Vista, where Quattroelle racked up her second straight graded win over the course and distance. Coming off a smart score on the cutback to a mile in the Feb. 4 Megahertz (G3), the Jeff Mullins trainee once again fired late for Hector Berrios.

Quattroelle went off as the 3.30-1 second choice, with bettors marginally preferring Kitty Kitana at 3.10-1. Kitty Kitana set early fractions of :23.32 and :47.96 under pressure from Tik Tok Famous, but pulled up abruptly on the backstretch. Tik Tok Famous briefly inherited the lead and had her head in front at the six-furlong mark in 1:12.42, then got overtaken by School Dance and Nadette.

The Buena Vista was up for grabs as most of the compact field was in the hunt in midstretch. The race was settled, however, when Quattroelle kicked into gear on the outside to prevail by a half-length in 1:35.74.

Macadamia burst through on the inside and held second by a length. Closing Remarks, who was hampered by Kitty Kitana’s bowing out, regrouped to get up for third in a photo over School Dance and Nadette. Tik Tok Famous retreated to last, and Kitty Kitana was able to walk off, according to the chart. Annaghlasa was scratched.

Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal’s Quattroelle sports a mark of 15-5-3-4, $412,782. As a juvenile, the Irish import captured the 2020 Blue Norther S. and placed third in the Jimmy Durante (G3), but lost her way after a third in the 2021 China Doll S. The daughter of Mehmas returned from a nearly 13-month layoff in 2022 and began to come around as the season progressed, finishing the year with placings in the Red Carpet (G3) and Robert J. Frankel (G3).

“Hector has really figured her out,” Mullins said. “It wasn’t until her last race in the Megahertz that he decided to just be a little more patient and it worked.

“She came out of that race really well and she’s trained just as she’s always had. We just knew. Today she just got a cleaner trip. Hector just sat there, and sat there, I thought, ‘Man you gotta go some time,’ and she just kicked away. Hector is the key to this filly right now.”

Bred by Rossenarra Bloodstock in the Emerald Isle, Quattroelle is out of the Stormy River mare Heavenly River. She is a “cousin” of last year’s Queen Mary (G2) victress Dramatised, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1). Dramatised’s dam, Group 3-placed stakes winner Katie’s Diamond, and Quattroelle’s dam are half-sisters.