TRUE VALOUR SEEKS TRUE TRIP IN SHOEMAKER
WONG HAS FILLY RIGHT FOR GRADE I GAMELY
HONOR A.P. BREEZES FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
TRUE VALOUR DUE FOR BETTER LUCK IN SHOEMAKER
If it weren’t for bad luck in his last four races, True Valour would have had no luck at all.
The Irish-bred turf miler trained by Simon Callaghan for Qatar Racing Limited was 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last Nov. 2, steadying past the eighth pole; eighth in the Grade II Joe Hernandez on Jan. 1 after bobbling at the start and going three wide; third in the Grade III Thunder Road on Feb. 8 after steadying early and waiting for room at the quarter pole; and fourth, beaten only a length, in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile March 7, again bobbling at the start.
Next up: Monday’s Memorial Day headliner, the Grade I Shoemaker Mile.
“He’s been unlucky, he likes being covered up and having something to run at,” Callaghan said of the six-year-old full horse, who has two graded stakes wins at Santa Anita, the Thunder Road and the City of Hope Mile, both in 2019.
“One day he’ll win a big one again.”
There couldn’t be one much bigger than the Shoemaker, the first Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’ Challenge Race in the United States this year, which entitles the nominated winner automatic entry into the 2020 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
The race is named for Bill Shoemaker, who remains the gold standard among jockeys 17 years after his death. In a career of nearly four decades. “The Shoe” won 8,833 races, a number that still resonates today.
His first victory came aboard his third mount, Shafter V., a $3,000 claiming filly at Golden Gate Fields April 29, 1949. The last horse he rode was Patchy Groundfog who finished fourth at Santa Anita on Feb. 3, 1990.
As good with people as he was on horses, Shoemaker died at the age of 72 on Oct. 12, 2003.
True Valour worked five furlongs May 17 in 1:03. “That was his last breeze before the race; he’s ready,” said Callaghan, who also has the ultra-consistent Miss Hot Legs entered Monday in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
“She always seems to run her race,” Callaghan said of the four-year-old chestnut daughter of Verrazano, who has a 2-5-1 record from nine starts. Second by a half-length in the restricted Wishing Well last out, Miss Hot Legs seeks her first stakes win in the Monrovia.
The field for the Shoemaker Mile, race nine of 11 with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Without Parole, Irad Ortiz Jr., 4-1; True Valour, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1; Next Shares, John Velazquez, 12-1; Voodoo Song, Mike Smith,12-1; War of Will, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Blitzkrieg, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1; Majestic Eagle, Jorge Velez, 20-1; Raging Bull, Joel Rosario, 7-2; March to the Arch, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Neptune’s Storm, Umberto Rispoli, 15-1; and River Boyne, Abel Cedillo, 4-1.
The field for the Monrovia, race five: Stealthediamonds, Agapito Delgadillo, 5-1; Oleksandra, Joel Rosario, 3-1; Ginger Nut, Umberto Rispoli, 15-1; Surrender Now, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1; Miss Hot Legs, John Velazquez, 10-1; Into Mystic, Abel Cedillo, 10-1; Jolie Olimpica, Mike Smith, 8-5; and Just Grazed Me, Flavien Prat, 5-1.
VERSATILE KEEPER OFTHE STARS SET FOR GRADE I GAMELY
Jonathan Wong has made a noteworthy impact on California racing in a relatively short period of time.
He began his career as a groom at 16, working for Art (California Chrome) Sherman and Lonnie (early Lava Man) Arterburn. Currently Wong is the runaway training leader at Golden Gate Fields, ahead of runner-up Isidro Tamaya by twice as many wins, 65-32, with more than twice as much in purse earnings, $976,526 to $460,780.
A 31-year-old native of San Francisco, Wong went on his own as a trainer in late 2014. He hopes to continue on the road to gold and glory with upstart Keeper Ofthe Stars in Monday’s Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at a mile and an eighth on turf.
A four-year-old gray daughter of Midnight Lute owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Keeper Ofthe Stars registered a major upset last out going a mile on Feb. 22, closing resolutely despite being three wide to capture the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at 36-1 under Abel Cedillo, who rides her for the seventh time in her last eight races on Monday.
“She’s training really well,” Wong said by phone from his Bay Area base. Kristin Mulhall will saddle Keeper Ofthe Stars in the Gamely. “The filly is very versatile,” Wong added. “Whatever comes up she can handle.
“Abel knows her well so he doesn’t need much in the way of instructions, just play the break. If she gets an easy lead, let her go. If not, just be outside and stay close like he did in the Buena Vista.”
The Gamely, race 11: Etoile, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Ollie’s Candy, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Lady Prancealot, John Velazquez, 6-1; Giza Goddess, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Mucho Unusual, Umberto Rispoli, 8-1; Simply Breathless, Jorge Velez, 8-1; Beautiful Lover, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1; Tiny Tina, Mike Smith, 15-1; Siberian Iris, Jose Valdivia Jr., 15-1; Bodhicitta, Flavien Prat, 12-1; and Keeper Ofthe Stars, Abel Cedillo, 8-1.
HONOR A.P. IN BULLET WORK FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Honor A.P. had his penultimate major workout in advance of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on June 6, going five furlongs Friday in a bullet 59.20 under regular rider Mike Smith.
“It was a good breeze,” trainer John Shirreffs said of the move, fastest of 28 at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.38.
Honor A.P., a three-year-old Honor Code ridgling, was second to undefeated Authentic in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 7, beaten 2 ¼ lengths.
The two are expected to meet again in the Santa Anita Derby, which will be decided at a mile and an eighth.
FINISH LINES: Drayden Van Dyke has been suspended five days (May 29, 30, 31 and June 5 and 6) for causing interference at the start and entering the stretch on Fighting Mad in Sunday’s eighth race.
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