Updated on 09/17/2011 10:01AM

Milwaukee Brew outduels Congaree

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Milwaukee Brew (left) edges Congaree by a head in Saturday's Grade 1 $1,000,000 Santa Anita Handicap to become only the second horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap twice.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Bobby Frankel had the last laugh after all. The trainer kept Medaglia d'Oro out of Saturday's $1 million because he was not satisfied with the weights, but he still won the race with Milwaukee Brew, who became only the second horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap twice, joining the legendary John Henry.

Milwaukee Brew was kept surprisingly close to the lead by jockey Edgar Prado, but the strategy paid off. A moderate pace prevented the late runners from gaining any appreciable ground, as Milwaukee Brew and Congaree had a torrid battle down the stretch.

Congaree led into the stretch and passing the eighth pole, and the two were virtually inseparable with 100 yards to go, but Milwaukee Brew put his head in front in the final yards and won by a head. He was timed in 1:59.80 for 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track and paid $9.60 to win. Milwaukee Brew carried 119 pounds, five fewer than Congaree.

Congaree, the 3-5 favorite, finished 4 1/2 lengths in front of third place Kudos. Pleasantly Perfect was fourth.

Milwaukee Brew, a 6-year-old son of Wild Again, was winning for the seventh time in 22 starts. He is owned by Frank Stronach, whose Magna Entertainment owns Santa Anita. Saturday's race was only his second in blinkers. He had finished second to Congaree in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 2.

"We were a little dumb not putting them on him before," Frankel said.

Asked if he was happy with the five-pound weight break Milwaukee Brew got from Congaree, Frankel smiled and said, "Definitely."

"But I'm still not a fan of having handicaps in Grade 1 races," he added.

Trompolino, the longest shot in the six-horse field, led narrowly through fractions of 23.28 seconds for the opening quarter mile and 46.70 seconds for the half-mile. Congaree was just to his outside, with Milwaukee Brew just outside Congaree. Kudos was fourth early, with Piensa Sonando fifth and Pleasantly Perfect last, compromised by the moderate pace.

Trompolino still led after six furlongs in 1:11.24, but Congaree and Milwaukee Brew left him as the field rounded the far turn.

"I was breathing down Congaree's neck," Prado said. "I knew I had a good chance, because the best part of his race is the last part."

"Our horse," Frankel added, "is probably a little better going a mile and a quarter."