San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Whisper Not rallies, wins in S.F. Mile

- By Larry Stumes Larry Stumes is a freelance writer.

Tempering the aggressive­ness he had shown in recent races, Whisper Not came from behind and outfinishe­d Keeper Ofthe Stars by a head in the Grade 3, $251,350 San Francisco Mile on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

After racing on the lead and finishing second in an allowance race Feb. 8 at Santa Anita, Whisper Not blazed to a 10length advantage and held on to win a similar event by 11⁄4 lengths there March 6.

With fellow frontrunne­rs Kiwi’s Dream, Diamond Blitz and Brown Storm in the field of eight for Saturday’s grass race, what would Whisper Not do? He did exactly what jockey Geovanni Franco, trainer Richard Baltas and his ownership group wanted.

“We definitely wanted to stalk the pace today,” coowner Jeremy Peskoff said. “He rated fine in his first race here in the U.S. (a rallying second Nov. 29). It was just the last couple that he ran off. I didn’t like to see him ahead by 10 lengths last time, but he ran a great race to win, and the final time (1:33.32) was more than a second faster than the Kilroe Mile,” a Grade 1 race won in 1:34.48 the same day.

The runoff horse Saturday was 781 shot Diamond Blitz, who rolled to an 8length lead on the backstretc­h through a halfmile fraction of 46.58 seconds on a course that is much slower than those in Southern California.

The pacesetter’s lack of class — Diamond Blitz was coming off three straight modestleve­l claiming wins — hit him by the middle of the second turn. As he stopped to an eventual lastplace finish, Keeper Ofthe Stars and Whisper Not surged past him turning for home, and they battled noseandnos­e to the wire.

“Richie gave me the opportunit­y to work him the last couple of times,” Franco said. “He’s a very strong horse but he’s very willing. The instructio­ns were to get him to relax as much as we could, and when he was that far back I figured they were going really fast up front so I just let him do his thing and he got the job done. Once he started eyeballing his targets he knew it was time to go.”

The bettors certainly didn’t doubt Whisper Not, as they made him the 75 favorite, and he rewarded them by finishing in 1:35.94 for his fourth win in 10 starts. He won two of five in his native England before coming to America last fall.

Keeper Ofthe Stars, the Grade 1winning mare facing males for the first time while making her second start in three weeks following an eightmonth layoff, ran too well to lose.

“She gave us a very good battle down the lane,” Franco said “Sometimes colts tend to not go by females, but in the end he was the better horse.”

Jonathan Wong, who trains Keeper Ofthe Stars, had Stalking Shadow and Jimmy Irish finish 12 a halflength apart in the $101,350 California Derby, the race before the San Francisco Mile.

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