D’Amato Brings Out Army for Santa Anita Stakes

February 27, 2023

Hong Kong Harry Winning The Grade III American Stakes. (Benoit Photo)

Four for Frank E. Kilroe Mile, Four for Buena Vista

Santa Anita Press Release/Edited

ARCADIA, Calif.— Horseplayers will have no shortage of viable options to consider when it comes to Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita. Led by a four-horse continent for trainer Phil D’Amato, every entrant in the nine-horse field is a stakes winner with eight of those scoring at the graded level. 

D’Amato’s first quartet is comprised of Irish-bred Hong Kong Harry and Irish-bred Gold Phoenix, both of whom return from layoffs for their seasonal bows; Irish-bred Balnikhov, who most recently was second by a nose as the favorite in the Grade II Mathis Mile on Dec. 26; and Masteroffoxhounds, who was second by a neck most recently in the Grade III San Marcos going 1 ¼ miles on Feb. 5.

Hong Kong Harry has been sidelined since winning the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar on Nov. 26. The 6-year-old Irish-bred gelding won five of six starts last year after his arrival from Europe including the Grade II Del Mar Mile and Grade III American going a mile at Santa Anita.

Hong Kong Harry is owned by Scott Anastasi, Jimmy Ukegawa and Tony Valazza. Flavien Prat, who was aboard for three wins last year, has the call on Saturday.

Gold Phoenix will be making his first start since a 10th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf going a mile-and-a-half at Keeneland on Nov. 5. D’Amato noted Sunday that Gold Phoenix “was doing fantastic” for his comeback but added this race is designed primarily to serve as a prep for the Grade II Charles Whittingham at 1 ¼ miles on April 8.

Owned by Little Red Feather, Sterling Stables and Marsha Naify, Gold Phoenix will be ridden for the first time by Kazushi Kimura.

Multiple horses in the Kilroe are exiting a thrilling edition of the Grade III Thunder Road on Feb. 4 including runner-up Du Jour and third-place finisher Air Force Red.

Du Jour returned from more than 14 months on the sidelines in the one-mile Thunder Road and was beaten just a nose when uncorking a furious rally under Umberto Rispoli. Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Natalie Baffert and Debbie Lanni, Du Jour in 2021 was a graded stakes winner and also Grade I-placed.

Jockey Frankie Dettori will ride Du Jour for the first time on Saturday.

Air Force Red was up near the pace in the Thunder Road before getting edged by a neck for the top prize. Prior to that effort the 5-year-old Air Force Blue ridgling won the Grade II Joe Hernandez on the downhill turf course here Dec. 31.

Air Force Red is trained by Leonard Powell and owned in partnership by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Holly Golightly. Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez, who was aboard in both the Joe Hernandez and Thunder Road, again has the mount on Saturday.

Quattroelle, upset winner of the Grade III Megahertz on Feb. 4, will look to add a second stakes victory at the Classic Meet on Saturday when she takes on seven rivals in the Grade II Buena Vista going a mile on turf. 

In the one-mile Megahertz, Quattroelle rallied from off the pace under jockey Hector Berrios to score at 10-1 for trainer Jeff Mullins. In her two prior starts, Quattroelle was third in the Grade III Robert J. Frankel going 1 1/8 miles here Dec. 31 and second in the Grade III Red Carpet going 1 3/8 miles at Del Mar Nov. 24. The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare by Mehmas has three wins in eight starts going a flat mile, which includes the 2021 Blue Norther here last March.

Quattroelle victorious in the GIII Megahertz Stakes at Santa Anita Feb. 4. (Benoit Photo)

Owned by Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, Quattroelle will again have Berrios in the irons on Saturday. Also exiting the Megahertz are Closing Remarks, who was third beaten a length, and School Dance.

Trained by Carla Gaines, Closing Remarks stalked the pace under Joe Bravo in the Megahertz and mounted a mild bid in the stretch to take the show dough. The 5-year-old California bred mare by Vronsky is seeking her first stakes win against open company. Prior to the Megahertz, Closing Remarks returned from a seven-month layoff and finished ahead of Quattroelle when second behind top turf mare Queen Goddess in the Robert J. Frankel.

Bravo retains the mount on Closing Remarks. A homebred for Harris Farms, she has banked $410,820 with a record of 3-5-3 from 16 starts.

School Dance was the beaten favorite when fifth in the Megahertz. Trained by Phil D’Amato, the 4-year-old Animal Kingdom filly was previously second in the Grade I American Oaks here going a mile-and-a-quarter Dec. 26. Jockey Ramon Vazquez was aboard for both of those efforts and will again be in the saddle on Saturday.

Owned by Agave Racing Stable and Rockin Robin Racing Stables, School Dance has a record of 3-4-1 in 11 starts with earnings of $182,940.

D’Amato also sends out a pair of recent allowance winners in search of their first U.S. stakes victories.

Macadamia, a Group 1 winner in her native Brazil, took down a second-level allowance here on Feb. 3 when going 1 1/8 miles on turf. She will again be ridden by Tiago Pereira for owner R Unicorn Stable.

Kitty Kitana, a 4-year-old English-bred by Bobby’s Kitten, won a first-level allowance here under leading rider Juan Hernandez when going a mile on turf Jan. 28. In her only two previous stakes tries, she finished third in both the Grade III Autumn Miss at a mile on turf here on Oct. 29 and Grade III Sweet Life last February.

Kitty Kitana on Saturday will be reunited with Flavien Prat, who had ridden her in three starts prior to last month’s allowance win with Hernandez. She is owned by Little Red Feather Racing and Sterling Stable.

Special early first post time for a 12-race card on Saturday that will also include the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and the Grade II San Felipe Stakes. First post is at 12 noon with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.

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