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2023 Kilroe Mile Preview & FREE Picks | Phil D’Amato Holds Strong Hand In Tough Turf Test
Lindsay Affleck

2023 Kilroe Mile Preview & FREE Picks | Phil D’Amato Holds Strong Hand In Tough Turf Test

Mike previews the 2023 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (G1) from Santa Anita Park, then gives his top picks & long shots. Trainer Phil D’Amato holds a strong hand with four entries in a tough turf test that features 9 runners who are all stakes winners – who wins? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

               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 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.

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               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.

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               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.


  1. Gold Phoenix—Kazushi Kimura—122
  2. Cabo Spirit—Joe Bravo—122
  3. Masteroffoxhounds—John Velazquez–122
  4. Air Force Red—Juan Hernandez—120
  5. Balnikhov—Umberto Rispoli—122
  6. Hong Kong Harry—Flavien Prat–122
  7. Du Jour—Lanfranco Dettori—120
  8. Irideo—Hector Berrios—120
  9. Royal Ship—Mike Smith–122