- SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT EYES A SHOEMAKER REPEAT
- MONSTER MEMORIAL DAY IS SET FOR SANTA ANITA
- WONG HAS FOUR OPTIONS FOR THE MIZDIRECTION
- BREEDER LOVINGER DOMINATES JUVENILE EVENT
SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT TO DEFEND SHOEMAKER WIN
Smooth Like Strait will seek to become only the sixth back-to-back winner of the Grade I Shoemaker Mile when the prestigious race named for the late Bill Shoemaker, arguably still the gold standard among jockeys nearly two decades after his death, is run for the 81st time on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.
The five-year-old son of the Real Quiet stallion Midnight Lute trained by Michael McCarthy for owner/breeder Michael Cannon who campaigns as Cannon Thoroughbreds has been a gem of consistency competing against elite turf milers.
Although he hasn’t won since capturing the Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day in 2021, the bay horse has acutely made his presence felt in five subsequent graded stakes.
He finished second in three straight Grade II’s, the Eddie Read, the Del Mar Mile and the City of Hope Mile before running second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile and third last out in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland on April 15.
“We’re very happy with him,” said McCarthy, who is bringing back Flavien Prat from the East Coast to ride Smooth Like Strait in the Shoemaker.
Smooth Like Strait usually makes his presence felt early by either being on or close to the lead, but as in most races, McCarthy acknowledges the trip is very important.
The $500,000 Shoemaker is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race entitling the nominated winner to automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland Nov. 5.
Previous consecutive winners of the Shoemaker Mile were Fleet Nasrullah, 1959-60; Winonly, 1962-63; Clever Song, 1986-87; Silic, 1999-2000; and Obviously, 2013-14.
Run at Hollywood Park from 1938 to 2013, the Shoemaker Mile was known as the Preview Handicap in 1950 and the Premiere Handicap from 1938 to 1989.
Shoemaker, affectionately called “The Shoe,” was 72 when he died on Oct. 12, 2003 at his home in San Marino, California. He won the race that would be named for him six times, with the female Special Touch in 1951; Pet Bully, 1953; Stranglehold, 1954; Fleet Discovery, 1967; Farnesio, 1979; and Peace, 1989.
BIG MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND STARTS MAY 28
Fans can avail themselves of fabulous racing and fun-filled festivities at Santa Anita Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the most anticipated on America’s Thoroughbred calendar.
The Shoemaker Mile is one of three Grade I events on Memorial Day, the others being the $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup for three-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles and the $400,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The monster weekend starts Saturday, May 28, with five stakes races for statebreds, followed by three graded stakes Sunday, May 29, the Grade III Daytona for four-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf course; the Grade II Triple Bend for four-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; and the Grade III Honeymoon for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
In addition to world class racing over the three-day holiday, Santa Anita’s Infield Carnival will return with a Ferris Wheel and a number of other rides, a giant slide, inflatable jumpers and much more.
Memorial Day is also Dollar Day, with $1 beers, $1 sodas and $2 hot dogs.
Fans are encouraged to make dining and seating reservations as well as to save big on unlimited ride Carnival wristbands by visiting santaanita.com/events.
WONG HAS FOUR NOMINATED TO MIZDIRECTION
With four horses nominated to next Saturday’s $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes for older fillies and mares at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf course, Jonathan Wong was contemplating which to run this morning.
One receiving major consideration is The Pharoah’s Girl, front-running winner of her last three races over the synthetic Tapeta course at Golden Gate Fields. Her only turf race came in her very first start when she was well-beaten in a Santa Anita sprint almost a year ago, on May 31, 2021.
“She’s turned it around and is well-prepared on what she’s supposed to do now,” said Wong, a native of San Francisco who also has Day Plan, Dynasty of Her Own and Sadie Bluegrass nominated to the race.
“The Pharoah’s Girl used to get really hot before her races but now she’s calmed down a lot and been running much better,” continued the 32-year-old trainer, a winning presence throughout California with divisions both North and South as he approaches 1,000 career victories.
The Mizdirection would be the first stakes race for The Pharoah’s Girl, a four-year-old daughter of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC and bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm.
FINISH LINES: Not only does Terry Lovinger own two of the horses that ran in Friday’s second race, a 4 ½-furlong dash for two-year-olds bred in California, he bred all five of the starters, including the winner, Paddle On Polly, a 12-1 shot ridden by apprentice Emily Ellingwood for trainer Lisa Bernard. Like two other runners in the race, Smokem for You and It’s Saul Right, Paddle On Polly was sired by Smokem, who stands for $5,000 at Lovinger’s Lovacres Ranch in Warner Springs, 90 minutes northeast of San Diego . . . Hot Rod Charlie had his first breeze since running second in the Dubai World Cup March 26, going three furlongs at Santa Anita this morning in 36.40. “He worked great and looked great so we’re on the road to better things,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, who has the son of Oxbow ticketed for the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on July 2…With a purse of $40,000, Saturday’s seventh race at 6 ½ furlongs out of the turf chute is named the Santa Anita Filly & Mare Starter Series Short Leg 4…This Monday, May 16, is entry day for the 147th Preakness Stakes.
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