PENN MILE at PENN NATIONAL RACE COURSE
Four accomplished 3-year-old turf horses, Jack Milton, Charming Kiteen, Noble Tune and Rydilluc will race for the first time in the inaugural running of the $500,000 Penn Mile, set for Saturday at Penn National Race Course.
Set for Saturday at Penn National Race Course, the Penn Mile is the fourth race on the card with a 7:26 ET post time. It's the final leg of an All Stakes Early Pick 4 that also features the $250,000 Mountainview Handicap and the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup.
Noble Tune the favorite for Penn Mile
Noble Tune, trained by Chad Brown, has been installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Penn Mile, with Javier Castellano aboard from the rail.
Coming off an impressive 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 3, the day before the Kentucky Derby, Noble Tune has only lost once in five lifetime starts, a second-place finish in last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
"He is training very well and I am extremely happy with how he is coming into the race," said Brown. "Going into the American Turf, he was training better than I had ever seen him and I expected a big effort. I am looking forward to Saturday and it should be a great race."
The 5-2 second choice in the Penn Mile is Rydilluc, undefeated in three turf starts for trainer Gary Contessa. Among those wins is the Grade 3 Palm Beach on March 3 at Gulfstream Park, which he won by 31/2 lengths. Assigned post position No. 7 with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado aboard, Rydilluc comes into the Penn Mile off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on the Polytrack surface.
"He certainly is right up there with the best horses that I have ever had," said Contessa, a four-time leading New York Racing Association trainer. "He is the best moving horse that I have ever trained and he takes your breath away when he goes past you. Had he run one place better in the Blue Grass, we would have run him in the (Kentucky) Derby. Edgar Prado has never really asked him for his best on the turf yet, and I am looking forward to seeing how he fares against the best turf horses in the country."
Todd Pletcher, who has won 5 Eclipse Awards as a leading trainer, will send out 2 horses in the Penn Mile.
Leaving from post position No. 6 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard will be Jack Milton (3-1), most recently seen winning the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes on April 5 at Keeneland Race Course by a neck. After taking his debut at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 12 in powerful fashion, he ran second in a subsequent allowance at Gulfstream, but that did not dissuade Pletcher from going into the Transylvania on just two career starts.
"We were very high on him before his first race and even more so afterwards," said Pletcher. "In his second race we were a little disappointed, but we felt his loss was because he didn't handle the surface that day. We were very impressed by his victory in the Transylvania and originally thought about the American Turf, but he acted like he needed some time. We know he likes running fresh so we focused on the Penn Mile. He is training great coming into the race."
Pletcher's second entrant for the Penn Mile is Charming Kitten, who comes off a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, which marked his dirt debut. He is a stakes winner on the turf, taking the Kitten's Joy Stakes, named for his sire, on Jan. 20 at Gulfstream Park. After that effort, he ran second to Rydilluc in the Palm Beach at Gulfstream and then finished ahead of that rival by one spot in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.
"We have always felt like Charming Kitten's favored surface was the turf," Pletcher said. "He is versatile and handles multiple surfaces. We took a shot in the Derby and we thought he ran a big race there for his first dirt effort; he showed some guts and determination. Now it's back to his preferred surface."
Charming Kitten is 4-1 on the morning line & will leave from post position No. 8 with jockey Joel Rosario, who piloted this year's Kentucky Derby winner Orb.
Rounding out the first-ever Penn Mile field are Grade 2 placed Are You Kidding Me (12-1) for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield, stakes winner Pitch N Roll (20-1) for trainer Ron Potts, Triple Cross (20-1) for trainer Adam Rice and Yougotthatgoinforu (50-1) for trainer Michael Rogers.