Monday's Grade 1, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile came up strong as the season's first Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race, with the winner earning an automatic entry into Mile over turf Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
Here's a full look at the field including, among others, the 2019 Preakness Stakes winner War of Will and River Boyne, a last out Grade 1 winner at Santa Anita Park.
The Shoemaker Mile will go as Race 9 of 11 on Santa Anita's Memorial Day program with post time scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m. ET. Morning line odds are projected by Horse Racing Nation.
1) Without Parole (GB) [ML 5-1 – Frankel (GB) – C. Brown/I. Ortiz Jr. – 11: 4-0-1 - $834,030] Since going to the Chad Brown barn after racing in Europe and Dubai, Without Parole was third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and 11th in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). He had to run without Lasix in the Pegasus and didn't have the best of trips. As a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot in 2018 as a 3-year-old, the back class is there. Brown has been training him on the turf at Palm Meadows in Florida. Use underneath.
2) True Valour (IRE) [ML 12-1 – Kodiac (GB) – S. Callaghan/J. Valdivia Jr. – 23: 5-2-7 - $391,612] The 6-year-old Irish-bred horse returns to race against familiar competition. His running lines show lots of troubled trips with several top-four finishes, although his most recent victory came back in October in the City of Hope Mile (G2) at Santa Anita. Use underneath.
3) Next Shares [ML 8-1 – Archarcharch – R. Baltas/J. Velazquez – 31: 7-4-3 - $1,725,771] Now a 7-year-old, his bold rally fell a neck short in the Franke E. Kilroe Mile (G1) in his most-recent start. He is the leading money winner in the field with a record that includes a victory in the 2018 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). He fits well at this level but is getting older and hasn't often put together two big efforts in a row. Win Contender.
4) Voodoo Song [ML 12-1 – English Channel – R. Mandella/M. Smith – 24: 8-4-1 - $952,460] This 6-year-old is known for 2017's four-race winning streak at Saratoga and a victory in the Fourstardave (G1) the following year. However, he has not won a race since then and was transferred from the barn of Linda Rice to that of Richard Mandella in 2020. He made one turf sprint start in the San Simeon (G3) for Mandella. In the past, the New York-bred did his best while racing on the lead. Toss.
5) War of Will [ML 9-2 – War Front – M. Casse/F. Prat – 14: 4-1-2 - $1,615,569] Last year’s Preakness winner returns to the turf, where he was second in the Summer Stakes (G1) as a 2-year-old. The son of prominent grass sire War Front was last seen running ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his first start against older horses. Since the Preakness, his best finish was third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). His preferred running style to this point has been pressing the pace. He will likely get bet down to unattractive odds off the layoff. Toss.
6) Blitzkrieg [ML 12-1 – War Front – D. O’Neill/D. Van Dyke – 19: 5-1-1 - $327,597] Once claimed for $25,000 in January of 2019, he went on to win three races in a row, including the San Francisco (G3) turf mile at Golden Gate Fields. He was part of the string that trainer Doug O’Neill sent to Dubai this past winter. The 5-year-old has not won a race since April of 2019, and this is a tough spot to end the streak. Toss.
7) Majestic Eagle [ML 20-1 – Medaglia d’Oro – N. Drysdale/J. Velez – 22: 3-5-3 - $298,291] This will be his first try in a Grade 1 race after running sixth in his most recent start in the Thunder Road (G3). His last win came back in June of 2019 in the American Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. He will run as a first time gelding. Toss.
8) Raging Bull (FR) [ML 5-1 – Dark Angel (IRE) – C. Brown/J. Rosario – 12: 5-2-2 - $920,750] This Brown shipper will make his 2020 debut after last being seen in the Woodbine Mile (G1) in September, when he was placed third after a poor start and had his stretch move impeded. His last six starts have come in Grade 1 company against top turf horses, including stablemate Bricks and Mortar twice. Plus, he successfully shipped to California to win the Hollywood Derby (G1) at age 3. Top choice.
9) March to the Arch [ML 8-1 – Arch – M. Casse/V. Espinoza – 20: 6-2-3 - $616,594] The 5-year-old has been in fine form this winter while racing in his home state of Florida for Hall of Fame elect Mark Casse. Last seen, he was third in the Appleton (G3) in a field of 12 after having to steady in tight quarters late in the race. He lost two other stakes by a head, one at Tampa and another at Gulfstream after strong closing moves. Live longshot.
10) Neptune’s Storm [ML 15-1 – Stormy Atlantic – R. Baltas/U. Rispoli – 15: 5-3-5 - $637,585] This Richard Baltas runner has been away from the races since December, when he was third in the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) after pressing the early pace. He shows a steady string of workouts in preparation for his debut against older turf horses. Four of his five career wins were at Santa Anita as part of a record where he had only two races with off the board finishes. Use underneath.
11) River Boyne (IRE) [ML 4-1 – Dandy Man (IRE) – J. Mullins/A. Cedillo – 24: 9-5-4 - $1,211,918] The 5-year-old is currently in the best form of his career. He has put together two wins in the Kilroe Mile (G1) and the Thunder Road (G3). Both came at a mile at Santa Anita after stalking trips. He is a horse that rarely runs a bad race and has been known to string together victories. Win contender.
Summary: Because some major tracks were closed due to the pandemic since mid-March and Oaklawn Park doesn't offer turf racing, the entire field of 11 comes into this race after a minimum of two months without a start. That makes this edition of the Shoemaker Mile unique and tricky to handicap.
River Boyne is in excellent form now with two graded stakes wins going a mile at Santa Anita and merits serious consideration. However, he is likely to get heavily bet and he has drawn the far outside post in this salty field.
Raging Bull, meanwhile, might be overlooked a bit at the windows. His last six starts were in Grade 1 races where he faced the best of competition in the male turf division. The mile might be his best distance, he comes in fresh, and regular rider Joel Rosario stays on board.
March to the Arch will be the “other” Mark Casse runner in the field as the Preakness winner War of Will is going to get plenty of attention. March to the Arch had troubled trips while finishing third in his last two starts in Florida. He figures to go off at higher odds than his stablemate and is worth a play in the exotics.