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Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita Park!
|1||WITHOUT PAROLE||5/1||I Ortiz Jr.||C Brown|
|2||TRUE VALOUR||12/1||J Valdivia Jr.||S Callaghan|
|3||NEXT SHARES||8/1||J Velazquez||R Baltas|
|4||VOODOO SONG||12/1||M Smith||R Mandella|
|5||WAR OF WILL||9/2||F Prat||M Casse|
|6||BLITZKRIEG||12/1||D Van Dyke||D O’Neill|
|7||MAJESTIC EAGLE||20/1||J Velez||N Drysdale|
|8||RAGING BULL||5/1||J Rosario||C Brown|
|9||MARCH TO THE ARCH||8/1||V Espinoza||M Casse|
|10||NEPTUNE’S STORM||15/1||U Rispoli||R Baltas|
|11||RIVER BOYNE||4/1||A Cedillo||J Mullins|
Last year’s Preakness winner War of Will makes both his return to the races and to the turf in Monday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita. In search of a Grade 1 victory on the grass, to match his success on the dirt, the Mark Casse-trained 4-year-old will face ten others in what promises to be a very contentious holiday feature.
Chief among his rivals will be River Boyne, who is back on the winning track in 2020, and a multiple graded stakes winner over the Santa Anita turf, as well as a pair of proven milers from the barn of Chad Brown, in Raging Bull and Without Parole, both of whom were bred in Europe.
Those are the four who will likely vie for favoritism, but the Shoemaker Mile is an extremely deep race, with every horse in the field having something in their past performances to respect.
As the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge race run in the United States this year, the winner of Monday’s one-mile turf race will receive an automatic berth and have all fees paid into the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on November 7.
What: Shoemaker Mile (G1)
Where: Santa Anita Park
When: Monday, May 25 — 4:30 pm Pacific time
How to watch: Stream live on TVG!
A winner of 8-of-13 starts over the Santa Anita turf course, River Boyne has collected numerous graded stakes wins in Southern California going back to his 3-year-old season.
While last year did not go quite as planned, he has come back with a vengeance this season at 5. He looks better than ever with back-to-back stakes scores, including a determined victory in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile last time at Santa Anita.
With his tactical ability to stalk and nose for the finish line, he’s certainly a major threat to add to this impressive resume in California, but whether or not he can hold off the big turn of foot from the Eastern invaders will be the big question.
As a Preakness winner, you can certainly call him the class of the field. The son of War Front displayed strong turf form as a 2-year-old, including an eventful trip when beaten only 3 ½-lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, before becoming a major stakes winner of dirt.
Having said that, he has much to overcome in his 2020 opener. Away for more than six months, he will need to come out running his absolute best to beat this salty field of turf veterans. I do believe that he can transition back to be a very nice turf horse, but it just seems like this is an awfully difficult spot to begin that journey.
Like River Boyne, things just did not work out quite as planned for this one last year.
Still, in his 0-for-5 season, he ran against the very best and was always a late-running threat.
Comparatively to what he ran against last year, this tough Grade 1 affair might actually be a little bit easier. When last seen in Southern California, the French-bred rolled to victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
That came back in December of 2018 at Del Mar, but there can be little doubt that trainer Chad Brown will have the classy miler fit and ready for his seasonal debut. Given the likely strong early pace scenario, he is the top pick.
Also from the Eclipse Award-winning barn of Chad Brown, this English import failed last time as a tepid 3-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. Freshened since that effort four months ago, he cuts back in distance to a more favorable trip on Monday.
Keep in mind that he was favored in the Pegasus Turf in large part to his performance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November. That afternoon, he ran a big race to rally for third of 13 over the Santa Anita turf course. Proven at the one-mile distance — he was a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot — he’ll be reunited with rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. who piloted him in the Breeders’ Cup.
On his best, he’s a serious threat in any middle-distance turf race in the nation. On the other hand, you never quite know exactly what you will get out of the 7-year-old son of Archarcharch. The good news was his latest was very good, when he only lost by a neck to River Boyne in the Kilroe Mile.
A similar performance here puts him in with a shot, but I have to wonder about playing a horse who is so in and out. Note that Santa Anita’s hottest rider, Flavien Prat gets off him this time in favor of War of Will. Of course, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is not a bad replacement at all.
The “other Casse” comes in off a third-place finish as the 7-2 favorite in the Grade 3 Appleton last time at Gulfstream Park. A consistent rallier, he has yet to break through against Grade 1 competition, but given his talent and closing kick, it’s likely only a matter of time before he does just that.
In the Appleton, he encountered traffic trouble. In the Shoemaker Mile, he’ll need a perfect come from behind trip to win, but the expected fast early pace should be right up his alley. He’s a dangerous runner who will offer much better odds than his stablemate.
This 6-year-old son of English Channel has both back class, and plenty of early speed. Shifted to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, he did not have the best of trips while finishing sixth in the Grade 3 San Simeon while sprinting. Back at a more favorable distance, expect him to be out there winging it on the lead in the hopes of becoming a star again far from his New York roots.
One of the more intriguing horses in the field, he put together a very nice winning streak early last year, which included a victory over River Boyne. Since then, though, it’s been failed tries on dirt mixed in with solid, but losing, efforts on the lawn.
He also spent the winter in Dubai, where he raced four times, so it’s hard to know how sharp he will be on his return to the States. If he can fire his best, he becomes a real threat stalking the early pace.
If you are looking for a longshot play on Monday, consider this Irish import. A group stakes winner overseas, he has handled this Santa Anita turf course before.
In fact, he won two graded stakes there at the one-mile distance, which he will see again in the Shoemaker Mile. Those came last year, and he’s winless in four races since, including two losses at the hands of River Boyne, but his last looked more like it, rallying to within a length of the winner in the Kilroe Mile.
A consistent stakes performer on the grass last season, this 4-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic figures to add to the early pace in his seasonal debut. It’s a tough spot for first off the layoff, and he still has to prove that he can run with top older runners, but if he’s improved at all off a solid sophomore season, he’s in with a shot at solid odds.
He probably deserves to be the longest shot on the board, but that’s a testimony to the overall quality of the field. He owns a graded stakes victory over the course and trip 11 months ago, and has not been embarrassed since.
$10 Exacta part wheel Raging Bull and Without Parole over River Boyne, Raging Bull and Without Parole = $40
$5 Exacta part wheel Raging Bull and Without Parole over True Valour and March to the Arch = $20
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top picks, Raging Bull and Without Parole.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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