Hit the Road (More Than Ready) struck a blow for the locals, parlaying a perfect trip into a stirring short-neck victory in Saturday's GI Frank E. Kilroe Mile S. at Santa Anita.
Drawn in gate two with the visiting Florent Geroux in the irons, Hit the Road found the perfect spot in the box seat, as Flying Scotsman (English Channel) sped across from his outside barrier to supplant favored Smooth Like Strait (Midnight Lute). The pace was sensible through the middle stages, with positions largely unchanged, and Hit the Road appeared to be in some bother nearing the quarter pole, as Flavius (War Front) kept him in for a time.
Smooth Like Strait had first run and the race was there for the taking if good enough, but Hit the Road, off at odds of 4-1, sliced through at the rail and fought on bravely to post a narrow victory. Count Again (Awesome Again) came from a share of last to be third with a flying finish.
Hit the Road is the first Grade I in the career of 38-year-old trainer Dan Blacker.
“I was pretty anxious, but I thought if he can get through, he's got a good chance,” Blacker said. “Luckily, 'Flo' found a gap and he just proved that he's the best today. I gave myself 10 years to win a Grade I and luckily we got it done in year nine. I don't want to make this about me. It's all about the horse, he's such a professional animal–he is a true racehorse. He was born that way. He's just a true athlete and so mentally focused on racing. I just feel so fortunate to have him and with a great group of owners. Being with me for such a long time, they've been so patient, and I'm just really thrilled for them all to get a win like this.”
Hit the Road, an impressive last-to-first winner of the Zuma Beach S. over course and distance at two, entered the Kilroe Mile riding a three-race winning streak. Two-for-two in an abbreviated 3-year-old campaign, including Del Mar's Runhappy Oceanside S., Hit the Road fired fresh off the bench with a sharp tally in the local GIII Thunder Road S. Feb. 6.
Hit the Road is the 26th worldwide top-level winner for the sensational dual-hemisphere stallion More Than Ready and 12th Grade I winner in North America. Hit the Road is bred on the wildly successful cross over Danzig-line mares-predominantly through Danehill-that has been responsible for the likes of top-level scorers Sebring (Aus), Prized Icon (Aus), Perfectly Ready (Aus), More Than Sacred (Aus) in Australia, to name only a few, and Uni (GB) in the United States.
Hit the Road is the first foal out of unraced Highway Mary (U S Ranger). The 8-year-old mare subsequently produced a filly by Quality Road, that died the following season, during which she
was barren. She had an Arrogate filly in 2020 and has a foal filly by American Pharoah. The winner's second dam is Grade II winner Wandering Star, dam of G1 Dewhurst S. hero War Command (War Front), Group 3 scorer Naval Officer (Tale of the Cat) and Wonder Woman (Storm Cat), responsible for a pair of black-type winners and four black-type performers.
Highway Mary brought €100,000 from agent Justin Casse at the 2015 ARQDEC sale.
Saturday, Santa Anita
FRANK E. KILROE MILE S.-GI, $402,500, Santa Anita, 3-6, 4yo/up, 1mT, 1:34.48, fm.
1–HIT THE ROAD, 122, c, 4, by More Than Ready
1st Dam: Highway Mary, by U S Ranger
2nd Dam: Wandering Star, by Red Ransom
3rd Dam: Beautiful Bedouin, by His Majesty
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($200,000 RNA Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-D K
Racing, LLC, Radley Equine, Inc., Taste of Victory Stables, Gold,
Rick, Maslowski, Tony E. and Odmark, Dave; B-Fred Hertrich
(KY); T-Dan Blacker; J-Florent Geroux. $240,000. Lifetime
Record: 9-6-0-0, $494,751. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Smooth Like Strait, 122, c, 4, Midnight Lute–Smooth as
Usual, by Flower Alley. O/B-Cannon Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY);
T-Michael W. McCarthy. $80,000.
3–Count Again, 122, g, 6, Awesome Again–Count to Three, by
Red Ransom. O-Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm;
B-Sam-Son Farm (ON); T-Philip D'Amato. $48,000.
Margins: NK, NK, HF. Odds: 4.20, 2.80, 16.30.
Also Ran: Flavius, Royal Ship (Brz), Casa Creed, Ride a Comet, Spirit Animal, Flying Scotsman, Social Paranoia. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.