03/08/2014 8:28PM

Santa Anita: Winning Prize leads all the way in Frank Kilroe Mile

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Benoit & Associates
Winning Prize proves uncatchable under Corey Nakatani in the Frank Kilroe Mile.

ARCADIA, Calif. – On the front or from off the pace, Winning Prize has been unbeatable in turf miles in Southern California this winter.

Winning Prize closed from second to win the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 1 and led throughout Saturday’s $351,000 Frank Kilroe Mile, beating an outstanding field.

The winning strategy was a surprise to trainer Neil Drysdale. He expected Winning Prize to race as a stalker, but when none of the other eight runners were sent to the front, jockey Corey Nakatani took the lead on Winning Prize.

Winning Prize set a pace of 23.17 and 46.47 seconds and held off a sustained threat from Lochte to win by a half-length.

“He got away with a 46,” Drysdale said. “That’s not fast, not on this course.”

Winning Prize led by a head with a quarter-mile remaining and was challenged by Lochte, who rallied on the rail. Lochte won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9. Suggestive Boy, who won the 2013 Frank Kilroe Mile, closed well to finish third, followed by Za Approval, Silentio, Lakerville, Tom’s Tribute, Regally Ready, and Optimizer.

Winning Prize ($9.60) was timed in 1:32.44 on a course that played quick Saturday.

“I was concerned about the horse coming up the inside,” Drysdale said. “I was surprised that Corey let him in, but we won.”

An Argentine-bred, Winning Prize has won 8 of 13 starts and $610,840. Winning Prize was a Group 1 winner in Argentina in 2012 and made his American debut with a victory in an optional claimer at Del Mar last summer.  Winning Prize is a 5-year-old by the Storm Cat stallion Pure Prize.

The Arcadia Stakes and Frank Kilroe Mile are the first stakes wins in the United States for Winning Prize, who races for Dave Heerensperger and Jose Nelson.