03/02/2005 12:00AM

Hot rematch in Kilroe Mile

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Horsephotos
Musical Chimes (center) wins the Oak Tree BC Mile last year by a nose over Buckland Manor (right), with Singletary (left) another nose back.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The Grade 2 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile last October was one of the most exciting races run in California in 2004. Musical Chimes, a filly, finished a nose in front of Buckland Manor, who was a nose in front of Singletary.

Three weeks later, Singletary won the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park in an upset, confirming the class of the race.

Those three meet for the first time since the Oak Tree Mile in Saturday's $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf. And the Kilroe could be more exciting than the Oak Tree Mile.

At the least, it has a deeper field.

The field of 10 includes Leroidesanimaux, the winner of the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in November; Cajun Beat, the winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint; and defending champion Sweet Return.

The Kilroe is the ninth race on an 11-race program that includes the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap; the 3-year-old debut of Declan's Moon, 2004's 2-year-old champion, in the Santa Catalina Stakes; the Baldwin Stakes for 3-year-old turf sprinters; and a $1 million guaranteed pick six pool.

Somewhat lost in the talented Kilroe field is Buckland Manor, who is aiming for his third consecutive victory. Trained by Paco Gonzalez for Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan, Buckland Manor is best on the Santa Anita turf course, where he has won 4 of 6 starts.

"We have to take a chance," Gonzalez said. "He's doing very good. I know it's a tough race, but he likes the turf."

Since the Oak Tree Mile, Buckland Manor has been fifth in the Citation Handicap last November at Hollywood, three lengths behind Leroidesanimaux, and won two allowance races at this meeting. In both of the recent races, he stalked the pace to the final turn and won stylishly.

Once a front-runner, Buckland Manor now can sit off the pace, and that has enthused Gonzalez. He is hoping that jockey Rene Douglas, who has ridden Buckland Manor since last October, will repeat those tactics on Saturday.

"I told Rene, 'He can rate. When he comes out of the gate, don't move your hands. He'll be fine,' " Gonzalez said. "He doesn't have to be on the lead."

Gonzalez said he has noticed positive changes in Buckland Manor, 5, who has won 6 of 16 starts but has yet score a victory in a graded stakes.

"He's more mature," he said. "His body looks better than last year. When he was 3, he was kind of lean. His weight is good now."

Extra scrutiny in Canani barn

Drake's Victory, who was entered in a $52,000 allowance race on Wednesday, was subjected to a morning blood test and race-day surveillance by the California Horse Racing Board even though his trainer, Nick Canani, has not been cited for a violation that warrants such attention.

Drake's Victory was previously trained by Canani's father, Julio Canani. Since Feb. 9, Julio Canani's starters have been subject to a 24-hour prerace detention after one of his starters tested positive for an excessive carbon dioxide level in January.

Since the start of the Santa Anita meeting on Dec. 26, trainers have faced sanctions if horses test positive for an excessive amount of carbon dioxide.

Julio Canani is one of four trainers cited for a positive. Those trainers will have horses in prerace detention for a span of 30 days.

Both Julio and Nick Canani said Wednesday that Drake's Victory was transferred to Nick's barn in mid-February. Julio said two horses were sent by owner Dana Levy to boost Nick Canani's stable to five runners.

Before Wednesday, Drake's Victory, a 4-year-old gelding, had last started on Feb. 6, finishing second. Nick Canani said Wednesday that he also trained Drake's Victory before his first start last May.

Wednesday's entries listed Drake's Victory as being trained by Julio Canani, even though both father and son insist that was no longer the case.

Rick Arthur, a practicing veterinarian and a member of the consortium of racing organizations conducting the carbon dioxide testing, said the morning blood test was taken at the request of the CHRB.

"Because the horse is not in the detention barn, Santa Anita and the CHRB investigators have put the horse under special surveillance today," Arthur said Wednesday. "It was an unusual situation and the CHRB took notice of it.

"At the least it looks suspicious, and it could be innocent. We're on it, and we've done what we can to protect the public."

A racing board spokesman, Mike Marten, said investigators interviewed Drake's Victory's groom. The groom told investigators he had cared for the horse at Nick Canani's barn for three weeks, Marten said.

Julio Canani took exception to the morning blood test for Drake's Victory, and said that he and his son had done nothing wrong.

"What's going on is not right," he said. "I'm disappointed. I don't understand it."

Arthur said that the testing process could lead to further scrutiny for trainers who have horses test positive for excessive levels of carbon dioxide.

"As we progress with this process, there are things we're keeping our eye on," he said. "It's certainly our obligation that no one tries to get around the system."

Musique Toujours sidelined

Musique Toujours, the upset winner of the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29, was not entered in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap because of a quarter crack.

Trainer John Sadler said that a patch will be applied to the affected foot on Friday and that Musique Toujours could return to training by the weekend.

The injury was detected last Sunday and forced Musique Toujours to miss a needed workout for the Big Cap. Although Musique Toujours would have been an outsider, Sadler had wanted to take a shot.

"It's too bad. We were kind of in the spirit of it," he said. "Maybe it will work out for the better."

Sadler said the final major handicap race of the meeting on the main track - the $100,000 Tokyo City Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on April 2 - is a possibility for Musique Toujours. The Tokyo City was formerly known as the San Bernardino Handicap.

* Whilly, the winner of the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on turf in January, has been formally invited to the $2 million Dubai Duty Free in Dubai on March 26, trainer Doug O'Neill said. O'Neill had been waiting for weeks to learn whether Whilly would be invited.