ARCADIA, CA – A titanic field of 11 males 4 and up will clash in Monday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park in the year’s first stateside prep for the Breeders’ Cup.
A strong cast of seven locals will face four foes shipping into town for Mark Casse, recently elected into the Hall of Fame, and Chad Brown, who has won the past four years’ Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer. Brown trained the winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, which was held over this course and distance last November.
The winner of the Shoemaker Mile will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Shoemaker Mile is slated as the ninth event on a special 11-race Memorial Day card that also includes two other turf stakes, the Gamely (G1) and the Monrovia (G2). NBCSN’s live coverage begins at 6:00 PM Eastern/3:00 PM Pacific and will also be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Let’s take a look at the full field:
1. Without Parole – The British-bred son of turf superstar Frankel won his first four starts, including the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in 2018. He continued competing against elite overseas company until coming west to join Brown’s stable last summer. He made his North American debut in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), finishing a strong third over this course and distance.
2. True Valour – Back-to-back local turf stakes victories earned him a shot in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, where he finished 10th. He has only hit the board once in three appearances this year, running third in the Thunder Road Stakes (G3), but he has shown that at his best, this mile distance is right up his alley.
3. Next Shares – This will be his 21st straight start against stakes competition, including his 13th at the Grade 1 level, and his 34 career appearances are more than any other competitor he faces here. He has competed in the past two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, finishing 13th each time, and has four stakes victories to his name, most notably the 2018 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1).
4. Voodoo Song – He tied a Saratoga record in 2017 by winning four straight on the upstate New York’s turf course, a run that concluded in the Saranac Stakes (G3). He returned to Saratoga in 2018 and won the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) but failed to find similar success in seven subsequent starts. He moved to California at the end of 2019 and will make his second start for new trainer Richard Mandella after finishing sixth in the local San Simeon Stakes (G3).
5. War of Will – The Preakness Stakes (G1) winner makes his 2020 debut after taking a well-deserved rest following a 14-race streak that never saw him miss a start. The War Front colt’s first four appearances all came on turf, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), before Casse gave him a shot on dirt. Though regular rider Tyler Gaffalione did not join him in his westward trek, War of Will did attract the services of top local rider Flavien Prat, who won 10 races in three days last week.
6. Blitzkrieg – He put together a four-race win streak last spring, beginning with a local claiming score and ending in the San Francisco Mile Stakes (G3) at Golden Gate Fields. Trainer Doug O’Neill sent him to Meydan in Dubai this past January, where he earned a second and a third in four starts. This will be his first start back since returning to America.
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7. Majestic Eagle – He has knocked heads with several of the best west coast turf males recently, including taking the American Stakes (G3) over this course and distance last June. His Hall of Fame trainer, Neil Drysdale, has won the Shoemaker Mile three times in its history: in 1998 with Labeeb, in 2001 with Irish Prize, and in 2006 with Aragorn.
8. Raging Bull – He began his career auspiciously, winning five of seven starts in 2018, including the Hollywood Derby (G1). Joel Rosario, aboard for 10 of his 12 career appearances, retains the mount as he seeks to reverse form and find victory once more. Brown saddled three separate Breeders’ Cup winners – all on turf – at last year’s festival.
9. March to the Arch – With a bit of racing luck, the second Casse entry would be undefeated from three starts this year, rather than having achieved success just once. This will be his first start west of the Mississippi River, but his six career wins have come at four different tracks, so he has shown that traveling does not affect him. The 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)-winning jockey Victor Espinoza has the mount.
10. Neptune’s Storm – When he broke his maiden at second asking, he commenced a string of 12 straight top-three finishes that he rides into this race. He has three stakes victories on his resume, including the Hill Prince Stakes (G2) last fall, and is making his return from a layoff following a third-place finish in the Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes (G2).
11. River Boyne – His 2018 campaign was the strongest of any 3-year-old California-based turfer, winning four stakes and six total, but he failed to find victory in seven appearances last year. He rediscovered his winning ways in early February, taking the Thunder Road and the Frank Kilroe Mile Stakes (G1) a month later. He has a formidable overall record of 13-8-1-1 over the Santa Anita Park grass.