Updated on 09/17/2011 8:55PM

Kilroe contenders all must shake off rust


ARCADIA, Calif. - The $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday is the first major test of the season for turf milers, and a race with more than the usual number of questions surrounding the leading hopes.

The four top contenders - Cajun Beat, Leroidesanimaux, Singletary, and Sweet Return - are all making their first start since last fall.

, the winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, has not started since winning the Hollywood Turf Express over 5 1/2 furlongs last November.

, who is likely to go favored, is seeking his sixth consecutive win. The streak includes three stakes, the most recent of which was the Grade 1 Citation Handicap last November.

is the Kilroe's defending champion, but has not started since finishing sixth in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October. He bruised a foot in that race.

, second in the 2004 Kilroe, ended his campaign last year with an upset win in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park in October. He carries top weight of 121 pounds in the Grade 1 Kilroe.

Following the BC Mile, trainer Don Chatlos mapped a schedule to have Singletary ready for Saturday's race. Ideally, Chatlos would have given Singletary, 5, a prep race last month, but persistent wet weather canceled those plans. Still, Chatlos is confident that Singletary is ready.

"I never turned him out," Chatlos said. "He walked for three weeks. He's so much fitter. Looking at the field, they're all coming off a layoff of some sort."

The race has drawn 10, including Musical Chimes and Buckland Manor, who were first and second in front of Singletary in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile last October over this course and distance. The three horses finished that race noses apart.

The other starters in the Kilroe are the 2004 Grade 1 winners Meteor Storm and Pellegrino, and the longshots Night Patrol and Romeo Plus.

Meteor Storm and Pellegrino are also coming off layoffs. They are both distance horses who would seem to be at a disadvantage over a mile. Meteor Storm won three major stakes last year at between 1 1/4 and 1 3/4 miles. Pellegrino won the Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles in his last start in December.

The Kilroe is a prep to longer races this spring for Meteor Storm. But trainer Wally Dollase said a fast pace could lead to a surprise.

"He's got a lot of class, and if they go too fast, then here he comes," Dollase said. "He's got so much talent, he'll run a good race."

Sweet Return pulled an upset at 9-1 in last year's Kilroe. He may about the same price Saturday, and is capable of winning again.

The field

Frank Kilroe Mile
Purse: Grade 1; $300,000; 1 mile (turf)

1Night PatrolK. John11230-1
2LeroidesanimauxJ. Court1195-2
3Musical ChimesE. Prado1139-2
4PellegrinoT. Baze11715-1
5Meteor StormJ. Valdivia1186-1
6Sweet ReturnG. Stevens11710-1
7Romeo PlusV. Espinoza11220-1
8SingletaryA. Solis1213-1
9Buckland ManorR. Douglas11610-1
10Cajun BeatP. Valenzuela1188-1

* Odds by Michael Hammersly