SHOE MILE IS A BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN AND YOU’RE IN’ CHALLENGE RACE, NOMINATED WINNER EARNS AUTOMATIC BERTH IN GRADE I BREEDERS’ CUP MILE NOVEMBER 4
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 3, 2017)–Fifth and rolling midway around the far turn, Brazilian-bred Bal a Bali ran down favored pacesetter Heart to Heart and held off a fast finishing Farhaan to win Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (turf) in a rapid 1:32.22. Ridden by “Big Money” Mike Smith for the first time and trained by Richard Mandella, Bal a Bali registered his second Grade I win to go along with three Group I wins in his native Brazil.
“The horses that I thought would be in front of me were,” said Smith. “Although, I did think I would get an inside trip but was given an outside trip. I thought it was a good spot to be in and it was for sure.
“Mr. Mandella had this horse double ready today. He’s been training this way and he ran that way today. I’m glad I finally got to ride him. I’ve worked him for everybody else, so it’s nice to finally get him to myself. He’s got a natural high cruising speed.”
Most recently fifth in a 1 1/8 miles Grade I turf stakes at Churchill Downs on May 6, Bal a Bali, a seven year old full horse, was off at 3-1 in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up and paid $8.20, $4.20 and $3.00.
“Mike rode him perfectly and he’s actually worked him quite a few times, so he’s familiar with him,” said Mandella. “I like winning. He’s always had a habit of hanging out, more this year than last year. But he would come down that hill (at Santa Anita) and see the gap to go home and it wasn’t a good thing for him last year. The mile kind of seems like his race and I’m going to stick to it.
“The Breeders’ Cup Mile (Nov. 4 at Del Mar) will be the long term goal. It’s very gratifying but you expect him to win every time because he’s a great horse. He’s had a few things that didn’t materialize, but with the setbacks that he’s had…the industry needs to give him the credit due that he overcame it and came back to be such a good horse.”
Owned by Calumet Farm, Bal a Bali picked up $240,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $1,257,923. A winner over the course of the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile two starts back on March 11, Bal a Bali is now 25-15-1-4 overall.
Last until the field turned for home, Farhaan, under Flavien Prat, flew late toward the middle of the course and just touched Heart to Heart by a nose for the place.
Off at 5-2, Farhaan paid $3.80 and $2.80.
“We had a good trip,” said Prat, who rode Farhaan for the first time. “We sat behind the winner and when he made his move down the lane, we followed him. He ran hard, no excuses.”
Breaking from the rail, Heart to Heart quickly took charge, with What a View in close early attendance. Although he spurted clear turning for home, Heart to Heart, who shipped west from his Belmont Park base for trainer Brian Lynch, was no match for the winner late and had to settle for third money, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of longshot Free Rose.
The 5-2 actual favorite with Julien Leparoux, Heart to Heart paid $3.00 to show.
“He broke sharp and made the lead pretty easy,” said Leparoux. “We were getting pressure, but he was comfortable. Turning for home, I thought we could win it. He tried very hard.”
Fractions on the race, all set by Heart to Heart, were 22.67, 45.07, 1:08.21 and 1:20.16.