Favored Courageous Cat gamely held off Caracortado in the
final eighth of a mile to win the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Saturday at Hollywood
The neck victory in the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’
event earned the 5-year-old son of Storm Cat and the Rahy mare Tranquility Lake
a spot in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
The Shoemaker was the first of two Grade I races Saturday.
In the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap, Smiling Tiger, the 17-10
second choice, remained undefeated over Cushion Track with a gate-to-wire
Second behind the brilliant Goldikova in the 2009 Breeders’
Cup Mile at Santa Anita in his last visit to California, Courageous Cat tracked
pacesetter Liberian Freighter, gained the advantage from that one early in the
stretch, then outfinished the 5-2 second choice. He completed the distance on
turf in 1:33.19.
Owned by breeders Pam and Marty Wygod and trained by Bill
Mott, Courageous Cat was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela.
Third in the Shadwell Turf Mile last Oct. 9 at Keeneland in
his only previous collaboration with the bay, Valenzuela reached a milestone
with the thrilling victory. It was the 100th stakes success at Hollywood Park for Valenzuela, 48. He is the 10th
rider to reach the plateau.
It was also Valenzuela’s first Grade I win since he teamed
with J P’s Gusto to win the Del Mar Futurity last Sept. 8. His most recent
Grade I victory at Hollywood
Park prior to Saturday was
Designed for Luck in the Shoemaker Mile May 31, 2004.
Providing Mott with his biggest local win since Court Vision
won the 2008 Hollywood Derby, Courageous Cat is now 2-for-2 this year, having taken
the Grade III Poker June 10 at Belmont Park.
Now 6-for-13 in his career, Courageous Cat’s bankroll increased
to $961,300. He paid $4, $2.60 and $2.20 as the even-money favorite.
Returning to turf after finishing sixth – beaten less than
one length - in the Alysheba Stakes last month over the Churchill Downs main
track, Caracortado paid $3.20 and $2.40. He wound up 4 ¾ lengths ahead of
defending champion Victor’s Cry. The show price on Victor’s Cry was $2.60.
Blue Chagall, Smokey Lonesome and Liberian Freighter
completed the order of finish. Ashtar was scratched.
“It was a nice way to get the 100th stakes win
because Bill Shoemaker was my idol,’’ said Valenzuela. “I just wanted my horse
to relax and that’s what he did. He relaxed perfectly behind the leader and
“I could have gotten him any time I wanted. I waited as long
as I could and he kicked on for home. When that horse (Caracortado) came to him
he fought back. That horse was never going to get by him.’’
Marty Wygod is already looking forward to another encounter
with Goldikova, the three-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“I’m looking for revenge,’’ he said. “If you notice in all
his races, he goes to his left lead right after he takes the lead. When
somebody runs up to him, then he’ll start to do well again.
“You could see he wasn’t going to give it up today. I was
pretty confident. Patrick Valenzuela is a great professional and we’ve tried to
give him every chance he deserves. Coming back at his age with his spirit and
drive, it’s a good thing to see him getting the job done.’’
Third aboard Mr Gruff in the 2010 Shoemaker Mile, jockey Joe
Talamo thought he was going to get his first win in the race when Caracortado
began his pursuit of the leaders entering the final quarter of a mile.
“We had an absolutely perfect trip, just got outrun,’’ said
Talamo. “I really thought I had the winner at the top of the stretch because I
had a lot of horse turning for home. The other one just had a little more.’’