Unbeaten since transferred to turf three starts back, Peter Eurton-trained Exaulted took the biggest step in his 15th career start on Memorial Day at Santa Anita. He rallied for a no-doubt-about-it, half-length win in the Grade 1, $500,000 Shoemaker Mile, getting the trip in 1:34.08.
The first of 41 Breeders’ Cup qualifying races in North America this year, the Shoemaker Mile provided Exaulted an automatic starting position with fees paid into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
Ridden confidently by Juan Hernandez, Exaulted was full of run while a reserved third, about 2 1/2 lengths off pacesetter Lamplighter Jack three furlongs out. He tipped four deep in the turn for home and powered by Flavius while keeping a late running Irideo safe on the money.
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“This horse has been improving every race,” said Hernandez, the meet’s leading rider with eight stakes wins and 24 overall victories. “He is always in a good position. He broke really sharp today, and I took him back. At the three-eighths, I asked him to pick it up, and it was time to go. I passed a horse to get the lead, and he didn’t let other horses pass him.
“Peter Eurton has done a really good job with this horse. This horse really loves the turf, so maybe the turf has been the difference.”
A 1 1/2-length winner of the one-mile American (G3) on the Santa Anita turf April 2, Exaulted, a 6-year-old full horse by Twirling Candy, was off at 3-1 in field of 11 and paid $8.20, $4.80 and $3.20. Owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, Exaulted got his first Grade I win and improved his overall mark to 15: 5-3-4. With the winner’s share of $300,000, he nearly doubled his earnings to $603,660.
“I’m just so happy, so pleased to do it for Lee Searing,” Eurton said. “This is the kind of race you want to win ever since you’re a kid. I knew Bill (Shoemaker). We played golf with my father-in-law. Those two things together make it a great day.”
Ridden by Hector Berrios, Argentina-bred Irideo was next to last at the half-mile mark before he rallied to be second by one length over favored Hong Kong Harry. He paid $27.80 and $9.20 after going off at 41-1.
Hong Kong Harry, who had to wait for racing room while well of the pace around the far turn, made a belated rally under Flavien Prat and paid $2.40 to show as the 8-5 favorite.
Golden Gate Fields-based Il Bellator, the longest shot in the field at 68-1, finished a length back in fourth with Alejandro Gomez up.
The fractions for the race were 22.88, 46.10, 1:10.09 and 1:22.14.