ARCADIA, CA – Nobody told Bowies Hero that he was competing against a defending turf champion because the Phil D’Amato-trained colt looked like a champion himself when winning Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking well from post 5 under Corey Nakatani, Bowies Hero raced mid-pack along the inside early while What a View led through initial splits of :22.79, :45.56, and 1:09.11. Splitting foes to gain the lead in mid-stretch, Bowies Hero inched away under steady urging and then held off a late charge from Next Shares by a 1/2-length to complete the mile-long turf race in a final time of 1:33.61.
“It turned out perfect,” Nakatani said. “Phil loved him today, and he was right. This horse, when he makes the lead, he kinda grinds a little bit, so I just wanted to make sure he stayed focused. Anytime you’re able to ride and win these kinds of races on a big day like this, yeah, it’s really nice, especially when you’re not expected to win.”
Next Shares was a 1/2-length past Channel Maker, with Syntax finishing in fourth, a head past World Approval, the defending Breeders’ Cup Mile champion and 1/2 heavy favorite that failed to ever fire. Om, What a View, and Free Rose completed the order of finish.
“At no point did I feel like he was going to catch up and win,” said Flavien Prat, jockey for World Approval. “I had a good trip, I had a great pace in front of me, but he just didn’t fire. That’s it.”
Bowies Hero’s win was his first in a Grade 1 event and second graded score overall, following the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes last December. The 4-year-old son of Artie Schiller improved his record to 13-6-1-2 with career earnings of $641,325. For D’Amato, the win was even extra special.
“Tomorrow is my birthday, but we’ll celebrate it today,” he said. “This horse competes every step of the way. He’s steadily progressing, and today, he showed he can compete amongst the elite in the turf mile division. Hat’s off to Corey and for helping this horse’s development.”
Bowies Hero returned $18.60 to win, $8.40 to place, and $7.40 to show. Next Shares brought back $15.20 to place and $10.40 to show, while Channel Maker paid $6.40 to show.