02/29/2008 12:00AM

War Monger's presence speaks volumes


ARCADIA, Calif. - War Monger will be after his third consecutive stakes win when he starts in Saturday's $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf at Santa Anita. Trainer Bill Mott is hoping War Monger can win the Grade 1 Kilroe in a less dramatic way than he won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.

War Monger won the Sunshine Millions Turf by 1 1/4 lengths after being steadied on both turns in the race over 1 1/8 miles on turf. The race left Mott excited about War Monger's future.

"I guess my confidence level is pretty high with the horse," Mott said. "We're coming clear across the country to try our hand."

Owned by Peter Vegso, War Monger, who is based in Florida, will be after his first graded stakes win in the Kilroe. A winner of 4 of 7 starts, he has won 3 of his last 4 starts and has shown an affinity for races between a mile and 1 1/8 miles.

"I think it's his game," Mott said of the Kilroe distance. "He's a great big colt and he got a late start last year. He just needed racing. He was getting it by the end of the year."

War Monger will be tested in the Kilroe, which has drawn a field of seven. There are four graded stakes winners in the field - Artiste Royale, Out of Control, Storm Military and Willow O Wisp.

Out of Control and Storm Military are trained by Bobby Frankel. Each won a stakes in his last start.

Out of Control has not started since winning the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile last fall. He was held out of the major stakes of the fall, such as the Breeders' Cup Mile and Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park, in favor of a 2008 campaign.

"He's a little more mature," Frankel said. "I think he's got a chance to win. He's a nice horse."

Frankel said nearly the same thing about Storm Military, a Grade 1 winner in Argentina last year who won his first stakes in the United States in the Thunder Road Handicap here on Feb. 2.

"He can win, too," Frankel said. "I think Storm Military will go the lead and the other will be right off the pace."

The race should have an honest pace with the presence of Storm Military and Willow O Wisp.

Willow O Wisp, the winner of the 2005 Del Mar Derby and 2006 Inglewood Handicap, was third in the Turf Paradise Handicap on Feb. 16. He is winless in his last seven starts.

The Kilroe also offers the 2008 debut of Artiste Royale, the winner of the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship over 1 1/4 miles on turf last October.

The Kilroe will be his first start since an eighth-place finish in the $4.3 million Japan Cup in November. The Kilroe will be the shortest race in Artiste Royale's 22-race career.