By Dick Downey
Four of the most accomplished 3-year-old turf horses in the country – Rydilluc, Jack Milton, Noble Tune and Charming Kitten – will tangle in the inaugural running of the $500,000 Penn Mile.
Set for Saturday at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, the Penn Mile is the fourth race on the card with a 7:26 ET post time. It's the final leg of an All Stakes Early Pick 4 that also features the $250,000 Mountainview Handicap and the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup.
Noble Tune, trained by Chad Brown, is the 2-1 morning line favorite coming off an impressive off-the-pace, up-the-rail victory in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day. He's won four of five races and finished second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
“He is training very well and I am extremely happy with how he is coming into the race,” said Brown. “Going into the American Turf, he was training better than I had ever seen him, and I expected a big effort. I am looking forward to Saturday and it should be a great race.”
The fleet Rydilluc comes in for trainer Gary Contessa. Among his three wins is the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes on March 3 at Gulfstream Park, in which Charming Kitten was second by 3 1/2 lengths. Last time out, he was fourth in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass after setting the pace.
“He certainly is right up there with the best horses that I have ever had,” said Contessa. “He is the best moving horse that I have ever trained, and he takes your breath away when he goes past you. Had he run one place better in the Blue Grass, we would have run him in the Derby. Edgar Prado has never really asked him for his best on the turf yet, and I am looking forward to seeing how he fares against the best turf horses in the country.”
Todd Pletcher entered Jack Milton and Charming Kitten.
With John Velazqueznamed to ride, Jack Milton comes in as the third morning line choice at 3-1. He earned his credentials by winning the Grade III Transylvania in only his third career start. Up With the Birds, dominant winner of the Marine Stakes at Woodbine last Sunday was second to Jack Milton. It was the second win for Jack Milton, who broke his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream Park before finishing second in an allowance race at the same track.
“We were very high on him before his first race and even more so afterwards,” Pletcher said. “In his second race, we were a little disappointed, but we felt his loss was because he didn’t handle the surface that day. We were very impressed by his victory in the Transylvania and originally thought about the American Turf, but he acted like he needed some time. We know he likes running fresh, so we focused on the Penn Mile. He is training great coming into the race.”
Charming Kitten comes off a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby -- his dirt debut. He won the Kitten’s Joy Stakes, named for his sire, on Jan. 20 at Gulfstream Park before running second in the Palm Beach. Before the Kentucky Derby, Charming Kitten was a close third in the Blue Grass.
“We have always felt like Charming Kitten’s favored surface was the turf,” said Pletcher. “He is versatile and handles multiple surfaces. We took a shot in the Derby, and we thought he ran a big race there for his first dirt effort. He showed some guts and determination. Now it’s back to his preferred surface.”
Charming Kitten is 4-1 on the morning line.
Rounding out the first ever Penn Mile field are Grade II placed Are You Kidding Me (12-1) for trainer Roger Attfield, stakes winner Pitch N Roll (20-1) for trainer Ron Potts, Triple Cross (20-1) for trainer Adam Rice, and Yougotthatgoinforu (50-1) for trainer Michael Rogers.
Post Time: 7:26 ET
|1||Noble Tune (KY)||2-1||J. Castellano||122||C. Brown|
|2||Pitch N Roll (PA)||20-1||H. Villa-Gomez||116||R. Potts|
|3||Yougotthatgoinforu (PA)||50-1||E. Flores||116||J. Rogers|
|4||Are You Kidding Me (KY)||12-1||L. Saez||116||R. Attfield|
|5||Triple Cross (FL)||20-1||M. Pino||116||A. Rice|
|6||Jack Milton (KY)||3-1||J. Velazquez||122||T. Pletcher|
|7||Rydilluc (KY)||5-1||E. Prado||122||G. Contessa|
|8||Charming Kitten (KY)||4-1||J. Rosario||122||T. Pletcher|
All will run with Lasix
Owners: 1 - Martin S. Schwartz and Dell Ridge Farm LLC ; 2 - The Elkstone Group LLC ; 3 - Touchdown Stable ; 4 - Ronald K. Kirk, John C. Bates, Michael Riordan, Aaron Sones and A. Shaw ; 5 - Taylor Rice ; 6 - Gary Barber ; 7 - L. Green, J. Massaro, H. Lerner, S. Shay and T. Dellatore-Bobo ; 8 - Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey
Breeders: 1 - Dell Ridge Farm, LLC; 2 - The Elkstone Group LLC; 3 - RR Equine Stables, LLC; 4 - John Bates, Ron Kirk, Greg McDonald &Riordan, Shaw & Sones; 5 - Gail Rice; 6 - Cherry Valley Farm, LLC; 7 - Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. &Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds, LLC; 8 - Kenneth L. Ramsey & Sarah K. Ramsey