ARCADIA, CA — Fifth and rolling midway around the far turn, Bal a Bali ran down favored pacesetter Heart to Heart and held off a fast-finishing Farhaan to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile 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 1 win to go along with three Group 1 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 the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on May 6, the 7-year-old Bal a Bali was off at 3-1 in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up.
“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 (on November 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 in the Grade 1 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.
“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 1/4 lengths in front of longshot Free Rose.
“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.”
Following Free Rose in order were Gangster, Bolo, and What a View.
Fractions on the race, all set by Heart to Heart, were :22.67, :45.07, 1:08.21, and 1:20.16.
Bal a Bali returned $8.20, $4.20, and $3.00. Farhaan brought back $3.80 and $2.80, while Heart to Heart paid $3 to show.
Additional Race Quotes
Jockey Mike Smith, Bal a Bali: “I might have tipped out a little early, but I wanted to make Farhaan come around me instead of getting through before I got there. It worked out.”
Trainer Richard Mandella, Bal a Bali: “He’s had some problems in his life, and he’s had some nice owners, some of the best in the business, that have been willing to let me do what’s right by him. The fruits of that are what you saw.
“In saying that, he’s had two sets of owners. The original owners, Mr. Rick Porter and Mr. Manganaro, who only wanted to do the best for him. Then, when Calumet picked up the breeding rights and decided to race him, they’ve only given me the encouragement to do the same thing. If all horses in the world had those kinds of owners, they’d be better off.
“I thought he was in a good place. There did look like there was a lot of speed in here, and it did become real at the 1/2-mile pole ,but he was nice and relaxed. Seeing that, I thought he should have the good finish that he had.
“Mike did the right thing and kept him out of trouble. He had a nice, quiet trip.”
Santa Anita Park