GRADE I WINNER WINNING PRIZE, TALCO & SEEK AGAIN ALL FIGURE PROMINENTLY
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 10, 2015)–Up and coming Bal a Bali, streaking Midnight Storm and Grade I winner Winning Prize head a closely matched field of five 3-year-olds and up in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (turf) Saturday at Santa Anita.
With an explosive late kick, Brazilian-bred Bal a Bali came flying under Flavien Prat to take his U.S. debut, the Grade III, one mile turf American Stakes on May 9. Conditioned by Richard Mandella, Bal a Bali, a four time Group I winner in Brazil, had been idle since June 8 in his native country.
“He’s just a really good horse,” said Prat following the American. “I had a little trouble on the turn because it was his first time on a short turn like that, but he can run longer than this…He’s a great horse.”
Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc., and Siena Farms, LLC, Bal a Bali, a 5-year-old horse by the Honour and Glory stallion Put It Back, has five wins from six starts at one mile on turf and is 13-12-0-1 overall, with earnings of $570,078.
Trained by Phil D’Amato, Midnight Storm, who had been idle since winning the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles turf Del Mar Derby Aug. 31, registered his third consecutive win in taking a one mile turf allowance in gate to wire fashion here on April 16. With Tyler Baze set to ride him back, it’s likely Midnight Storm will be sent to the early lead again on Saturday.
Owned by his breeders, Alex Venneri and Marjorie Post Dye, along with Little Red Feather Racing, Midnight Storm is two for two at a mile on turf and is 8-4-2-0 overall with earnings of $323,610.
A winner of the Grade I, Frank E. Kilroe Mile (turf) on March 8, 2014, Winning Prize is winless in five starts since. A close second two starts back in the one mile turf Thunder Road Stakes April 4, he pressed the pace and ended up fourth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths by Bal a Bali in the Grade III American on May 9.
A three time Group I winner in his native Argentina, 6-year-old Winning Prize is owned by David Heerensperger and Jose Nelson and will be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia in the Shoe Mile. With five wins and two seconds from 10 tries at a mile on grass, Winning Prize is 18-8-2-1 overall with earnings of $643,013.
Fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths in the Grade I Turf Classic on May 2 at Churcill Downs, trainer Bill Mott’s Seek Again, a Grade II one mile turf winner four starts back at Saratoga this past August, ships west for the Shoemaker Mile with eastern-based Jose Lezcano engaged to ride for the first time. Owned by his breeder, Juddmonte Farms, Inc., the 5-year-old horse by Speightstown would appreciate a fast pace. Seek Again has one win from three races at a mile on grass and is 14-5-3-2 overall with earnings of $779,926.
Hronis Racing, LLC’s French-bred Talco had a two race winning streak snapped when second, beaten a length by Bal a Bali in the Grade III American on May 9. Trained by John Sadler, he’ll be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano, as regular pilot Victor Espinoza is committed to ride at Churchill Downs on Saturday. A 4-year-old colt, Talco, like Seek Again, would benefit from a realistic early pace. Talco has three wins and three seconds from eight starts at the distance and is 14-4-4-3 overall with earnings of $251,123.
With all horses assigned 119 pounds, the Grade I Shoemaker Mile, to be run as the fifth race on a nine-race program, with jockeys in post position order is as follows: Winning Prize, Martin Garcia; Talco, Rafael Bejarano; Midnight Storm, Tyler Baze; Seek Again, Jose Lezcano, and Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat.
First post time for the nine-race card on Saturday, which also includes the Grade III Adoration Stakes, is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.