Irish expats of the four-legged variety continue to thrive in southern California stakes races. Gold Phoenix took Saturday’s Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita, not long after Quattroelle knocked off the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes.
Gold Phoenix, a 5-year-old gelding, was the less fancied of three Irish-breds saddled in the grassy Kilroe by Phil D’Amato. When last seen under silks, he was no factor in the 12-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland. Recast as a miler, he settled off the early pace only to get serious down the lane. He prevailed by a neck at the wire. Kazushi Kimura rode the winner, which paid $23.60 to win.
“He’s a horse that’s kind of lazy to switch leads and [Kimura] got him to switch leads down the stretch and mow them down,” D’Amato said. He indicated that Gold Phoenix will probably stretch out to 10 furlongs in the Charles Whittingham at Santa Anita on April 7.
Gold Phoenix began his career in Ireland under Kieran Cotter, who ran him once at Dundalk in February 2021, a narrow victory, after which he was sold and moved to California. He is owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stable and Marsha Naify. Mighty Universe Ltd. is the breeder.
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The McEnery family of Rossenarra Stud near Kells, Co. Kilkenny has been affiliated with some very nice horseflesh over the decades. Probably none was nicer than Red Rum, although Quattroelle is making a case for her legacy in California. Saturday’s victory in the Buena Vista was her second consecutive graded stakes victory.
Quattroelle, ridden by Hector Berrios, raced in midpack early in this grass mile before getting serious rounding for home. She finally pulled ahead inside the sixteenth pole and cleared the wire in front by one-half length. She returned $8.60 to win.
“Patience is what I had,” Berrios said. “When you know you have a good mare, you can just wait for the right time to make your move. She was ready to move on the turn. When you are the favorite, everyone is looking at you. I waited for that moment to move and she did the rest.”
Also waiting, somewhat impatiently, for that moment was trainer Jeff Mullins.
“Hector just sat there and sat there, I thought, ‘Man, you gotta go sometime,’ and she just kicked away,” Mullins said. “Hector is the key to this filly right now. [He] has really figured her out.”
Quattroelle, a 5-year-old mare, began her career in August 2020 at Leopardstown for Kevin Coleman. She finished third that day, after which she was next seen two months later breaking her maiden at Santa Anita. She now has five wins from 15 starts. Red Barons Barn and Rancho Temescal are the owners.