Irish-bred Gold Phoenix springs a major surprise as he rallies to take the Grade I, $500,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— With Phil D’Amato saddling four of the eight starters in Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, it was his red-hot Irish-bred Hong Kong Harry who commanded most of the attention, as he was dispatched as the even-money favorite. However, it was another one of his three Irish-breds, Gold Phoenix, who got the money, as he saved ground to the top of the lane and roared home on top under Japan-born Kizushi Kimura to win by a neck while getting one mile on turf in 1:34.45.
Breaking from the number one post, Gold Phoenix hugged the rail throughout and split horses four-deep at the sixteenth pole with a dramatic late move that ensured victory in the prestigious Kilroe.
Well beaten in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland going a mile and one-half Nov. 5, Gold Phoenix was off at 10-1 and paid $23.60, $9.60 and $6.40.
A 5-year-old gelding owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables, LLC and Marsha Naify, Gold Phoenix, who was ridden for the first time today by Kimura, had won the Grade II Del Mar Handicap three starts back on Sept. 3 and notched his first Grade I victory today.
As for the 23-year-old Kimura, who was North America’s Eclipse Champion Apprentice Jockey in 2019, the Kilroe marked his first Santa Anita Grade I victory.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori, Du Jour, who was last early, rallied for the place, finishing three quarters of a length in front of Cabo Spirit. Off at 10-1, Du Jour paid $10.00 and $7.00.
Cabo Spirit, who lacked room heading to the far turn, ran a big race at 37-1 and paid $14.20 to show under Joe Bravo.
Fractions on the Kilroe were 23.08, 47.06, 1:10.55 and 1:22.24.
Grade I, $500,000, Frank E. Kilroe Mile Quotes
Kazushi Kimura, Gold Phoenix, Winner: “This horse hadn’t run since the Breeders’ Cup and it’s the first time I’ve ridden him. I just wanted to get a good position at the break and maybe we’ll get lucky and finish second or third. I was sitting right behind Joe Bravo (Cabo Spirit) and at the three-eighths, I was looking for a good position. He was looking around and once we hit the lane, we saw the opening between horses and he exploded. This is my third Grade I win, my first at Santa Anita. I hope to add another one in the next race.”
Philip D’Amato, Gold Phoenix, Winner: “This kid (Kazushi) has ridden two horses for me now and both wins. He saved every inch of ground, waited, split horses, and did everything I told him. He’s a horse that’s kind of lazy to switch leads and he got him to switch leads down the stretch and mow em’ down. I think he’s going to be a nice addition to the colony, and I think he will be here next year longer. I can’t say enough about a great ride.
“It definitely set him up for the Charles Whittingham (Apr. 7) here going a mile and a quarter.”
Billy Koch, Little Red Feather Racing, Gold Phoenix, Winner: “This horse, ‘GFP’ is what we call him. He showed up today. Phil and his team did an amazing job, and congrats to all the partners, I mean winning a Grade I is special.
“I remember this race when we ran with Singletary and we lost, we got beat a nose by Sweet Return, and I’ve always wanted to win this race for all these people they put so much time, money and effort into the game. It is just an amazing feeling; this is why we do what we do.”