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First and second when last they met, Brazilian-bred Bal a Bali and California-bred What a View head a field of seven 3-year-olds and up in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf.
Named for Bill Shoemaker, one of the greatest riders of all time, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race. The winner will be guaranteed automatic entry to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar in November.
#3 Bal a Bali – He ran a huge race in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile off of a long layoff to pick up his fourteenth career win. Draw a line through his race last time out, as he was a non-threatening fifth at Churchill Downs in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. That race was run over a “good” track that was more like “yielding” after massive rains hit Louisville for two straight days. Now, Bal a Bali is back on a firm turf course, and with plenty of speed up front, it should set up well for his late-closing style. Expect a big performance after his poor luck at Churchill Downs.
#1 Heart to Heart – If you look at the numbers and the class factor, then Heart to Heart is a deserving favorite and a likely winner. However, how can you not be skeptical of his two Santa Anita starts? Last year, he shipped out here to run in this exact same race and was a well-beaten fourth as the 4/5 favorite. His other Santa Anita start came in the 2014 Grade 3 Mathis Brothers Mile, where he was also fourth, as a 2-1 shot. With those losses on his resume, take a shot against him until he proves that he can win at this track.
#4 Farhaan – Before this year, I didn’t have that high of an opinion of Farhaan, but his last two races have impressed me. His 2017 debut race was a solid second-place effort to Prospect Park in an allowance, and last time out, he won the Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes at the same distance that they’ll run in this spot. Both of his speed figures match up fairly well with what he’s matched up against here, so if he can stay on that same level, it will give him a shot to get his first Grade 1 win.
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#2 What a View – This California-bred is the model of consistency, finishing first or second in four out of five races this year. Unfortunately, he’s only managed to win one of those five starts, which was last time out in a Cal-bred restricted stakes. He lost to Bolo by a head in the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes, then lost by a head to Bal a Bali in the Kilroe Mile. He’s been close on a couple of occasions this year, but he hasn’t quite been able to finish the deal. He seems like a good underneath play again, but nothing more.
#7 Bolo – At times, this horse can be brilliant, but more often than not, he’s disappointing. When he runs his best race, he can beat anyone in the turf division, but there’s no way of telling when he’s going to do it. In no way would I ever suggest a play on this horse if the odds are short, but if his odds float up to a big number, he’d be worth a longshot play.
#5 Free Rose – He comes into this one off of a layoff since early December, so he may not be ready to fire his best effort here. He also may prefer a bit more ground than what he’ll get today. Take a wait-and-see approach with him.
#6 Gangster – While this horse returns to turf, his best surface, this competition looks to be a little too tough, and he may actually like a bit more distance. Don’t support him in this spot.
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