The first of three Grade 1s on the Santa Anita card for Gold Cup Monday is the Shoemaker Mile Stakes. A mainstay now in Arcadia, it used to be one of the races to watch in the old days, when Hollywood Park was still in operation. Since 2014, some excellent turf milers have contested the pace, fought through traffic, and accelerated to the wire. They include Obviously (IRE), Midnight Storm, Hunt, Bolo, and last year’s victor, Raging Bull (FR). Joining this pantheon of lawn heroes will be a new member. If they are going to make a play for this “grass” ring, then it will take heart and a good bit of rating ability.
Now, let’s find out about this field…
#1 Next Shares (Jky: T. McCarthy/Trn: R. Baltas):
The venerable long shot is back, and everyone better watch out! Richard Baltas can always jump up and score a turf victory when you least expect it. The now 8-yr-old gelding has not won a race in some time, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous, especially @SA. T-Mac isn’t much of a turf jockey, so maybe this is not the right time to make a wager.
#2 Smooth Like Strait (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: M. McCarthy):
Cannon Thoroughbreds bred and owns this accomplished grass router, and the colt has been a mark of consistency over the past year. Running up the SoCal ranks has made him particularly tough. The Mathis (G2) and the Twilight Derby (G2) were highlight wins to be sure. A “just missed” in the Kilroe Mile (G1) was heartbreaking, but still, that wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, in my estimation. With Umberto Rispoli, the resident turf rider with the magic hands, this son of Midnight Lute is going to be very difficult to best for trainer Mike McCarthy. Boy, that conditioner is clicking on all cylinders!
#3 Crossfirehurricane (Jky: M. Gutierrez/Trn: M. McCarthy):
The “other” McCarthy runner that is drawn in here has no stateside experience as he makes his U.S. debut. In Ireland, the son of Kitten’s Joy rattled off 4 wins in a row, including a Group 3 win at The Curragh. Though he stumbled in the Irish Derby (Group 1), the fact that he was there remains impressive. McCarthy is getting more and more exposure after signature wins this past year. The clients start streaming in ... just ask Cox, Brown, and any other super trainer, who has made a name for themselves over the past 5-10 years. I am not sure Mario Gutierrez is the right choice to take this one out for his SoCal “maiden” voyage … major downside, I am afraid.
#4 Restrainedvengence (Jky: T. Baze/Trn: V. Brinkerhoff):
The Brinkerhoff Barn is trying to go deep with this 6-yr-old gelding, but in the end, he may have overshot his receiving corps. Enough with the football references … Last time at Golden Gate Fields, the son of Hold Me Back was 3rd behind Baltas’ Whisper Not #6. How this runner is going to match up against the likes of this group is beyond me. Tyler Baze is a plus, but he will not be enough to take over this race. It is just not going happen.
#5 Raymundos Secret (Jky: JJ Hernandez/Trn: P. D’Amato):
The Phil D’Amato entrant is doubled entered in this race and in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes. Which one will the connections choose? There are pros and cons to each. The mare is up against the “boys” in this spot, but gets to have JJ Hernandez in the saddle. That is quite a score. If she stays, then she will be forced to try a distance that she has already failed at 2x in a row. Maybe the plan to scratch is the best idea. Stay tuned when we get to raceday … could be a major call either way. Last year, D’Amato had this daughter of Treasure Beach headed in the proper direction.
#6 Whisper Not (Jky: G. Franco/Trn: R. Baltas):
Baltas #2 is probably the better of the pair, especially since the gelding won his last race, the San Francisco (G3) up at Golden Gate. Though he only won by a head, a win is a win, as they say. Before that he was not too bad up against some good turf company at Santa Anita. This spot will in no way be an easy one, especially with the horse drawn to his outside. Maybe Geo Franco can give him a dream trip. Or maybe it will be the other way around …
#7 Say the Word (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: P. D’Amato):
Here is the deserving favorite in this field. The former Gail Cox runner who is now in the care of Phil D’Amato, and the gelding out of More Than Ready hasn’t disappointed. Though he was “tired” and “way back” in the Pegasus World Turf (G1), the rest of his races at DMR/SA and at Keeneland in the Elkhorn (G2) were awfully good. He has faced Arlow, Colonel Liam, United, and Channel Cat. That is a who’s who in the division. Getting Flavien Prat back aboard is the best news, ever. As far as I am concerned, this is his race to lose.
Join us Monday for all of our Santa Anita selections! Should be a great set of races as the capstone to Gold Cup Weekend!