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Rainy weather ruined the fun at most tracks around the country this past weekend, but not at Santa Anita Park, aka The Great Race Place! A trio of Grade 1s on Monday capped off four days of bright, sunny weather and firm turf. Here’s how we ranked the winners in our latest Three Stars of the Week:
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Perhaps no horse based in California tries as hard as Smooth Like Strait, who won Saturday’s Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1) in convincing fashion. The victory earned him a fees-waived automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), held this year on a Del Mar turf track over which he’s enjoyed plenty of past success. Look out, world – there could be a new American challenger!
The hard-trying mare finally earned her Grade 1 status by rallying hard in the stretch and getting up just in time to win the Gamely Stakes (G1). She did so while defeating a tough cast that included last year’s winner Keeper Ofthe Stars and the red-hot Charmaine’s Mia, who was undefeated heading into the race since she relocated to California. Another horse who enjoys the Del Mar turf, her connections are already plotting out how to best prepare her for the year-end World Championships.
Despite looking beat at the top of the stretch, that re-break he had in the stretch of the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) was the difference-maker. Royal Ship looked on his way to defeating him for the second straight start – until Country Grammer found a new gear, that is. Owning a win at this crucial 1 1/4-mile distance helps his chances of doing well in the Pacific Classic (G1) and the Breeder’s Cup Classic (G1).
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