Making his first appearance in a Grade 1, Victor’s Cry used a strong finish to earn a surprise win in the $249,500 Shoemaker Mile on Monday at Hollywood Park.
The 67th running of the Shoemaker was the last of three stakes on the Memorial Day program, following the $66,000 Willard L. Proctor Memorial and the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap.
Dismissed at 21-1, Victor’s Cry helped trigger a Pick Six carry-over of $150,594 when racing resumes Friday. Post time is 7:05 p.m. and the Pick Six will begin with the third race.
Owned by Equilete Stable and trained by Eoin Harty, Victor’s Cry took advantage of a rapid pace to win for the second time in four starts this year.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, now riding regularly in Kentucky, saved ground while well off the lead, angled out in the stretch and was up to defeat 9-5 favorite Karelian by a head.
The final time was 1:32.88, the fastest clocking in the Shoemaker since Designed For Luck won in 1:32.81 in 2004.
In winning for the fifth time in 17 starts, Victor’s Cry, who had run 6 ½ furlongs in his three previous races in 2010, increased his earnings to $350,633. He paid $44.40, $12.60 and $7.20.
“I was happy because I thought we were going to run third,’’ said Harty. “Then, I saw them stopping and I thought he was going to run second. Then I saw they were really stopping and I just couldn’t believe it.
“I entered to win. I thought on paper it might set up well for his style of running. But it is a Grade 1 and these things are hard to win, so I would have been happy with a piece of it. I am also happy to win it.’’
The win was Nakatani’s fifth in the Shoemaker, placing him one behind the man who the race – which was called the Premiere Handicap until 1989 - is named. Bill Shoemaker’s first Premiere win came with Special Touch in 1951. His final victory in the race came atop Peace 21 years ago.
“Turning for home I felt all I needed was a spot to run,’’ said Nakatani, whose most recent win in the Mile had come aboard Aragorn in 2006. “He made a strong move from the three-eighths pole to get position and to be able to win the race I had to try to time it as best as I could.’’
Karelian, a gelded son of Bertrando and the Theatrical mare Leaning Tower, fell just short in his quest for a second consecutive Grade 1 victory. Successful in the Maker’s Mark on April 9 at Keeneland, Karelian paid $3.60 and $2.80.
“He fired,’’ said trainer Rusty Arnold of the 8-year-old, who has won 10 of 22 for owner-breeder Green Lantern Stables LLC. “He couldn’t have run any harder. At the eighth pole, I didn’t think he was going to get the horse (Mr Gruff) in front of him. We couldn’t have had a better trip. Good try, good run.’’
In his first start beyond 6 ½ furlongs, Mr Gruff showed the way from the inside while setting quick fractions (23.08, 46.05 and 1.09.20) under Joe Talamo, but weakened late and had to settle for third, 1 ¼ lengths behind Karelian. Mr Gruff paid $4 to show.
Gallant Son was three-quarters of a length behind Mr Gruff, then came Golden Balls, Global Hunter, Compari, the 5-2 second choice who was wide into the opening turn, then had some traffic problems on the backstretch, Tangled Tango and Blue Chagall.
Earlier in the afternoon, Evening Jewel, in her return to California and making her first start on turf, was on the right end of a photo finish in winning the Honeymoon.
After losing by a nose to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks on April 30 at Churchill Downs, Evening Jewel was able to hold off Cozi Rosie by a head in the Honeymoon, a Grade II.
Owned by the Braly Family Trust and trained by Jim Cassidy, the 3-year-old Northern Afleet filly and the Giant’s Causeway mare Jewel Of The Night led throughout under Victor Espinoza. The victory was the third in 10 starts for the California bred, who carried top weight of 122 pounds. She increased her bankroll to $606,943.
“I think that I’ll swim her next, that’s the only thing she hasn’t done yet,’’ said Cassidy. “She is just a wonderful filly. With that kind of pace (the opening half mile was run in 50.29 and the initial six furlongs in 1:14.52) and as keen as she was she didn’t try to pull or get a little rank.’’
In winning in 1:48.87 for the 1 1/8 miles, Evening Jewel, who also lost by a nose to Blind Luck in the Las Virgenes in February at Santa Anita, paid $3.80, $2.80 and $2.40.
“She was in the bridle all the way,’’ said Espinoza after his third Honeymoon win in the last seven years. “This is a tremendous job by Jim, the way he’s improving this filly.’’
Looking for her second stakes win of the meet after taking the Senorita on May 2, Cozi Rosie finished one length in front of City To City. Cozi Rosie paid $3.60 and $2.80 while City To City paid $3.40 to show.
Triple Cream and Andina finished in a dead heat for fourth, then came In The Slips and Dreamed To Dream.
The first 2-year-old stakes race of the year in Southern California featured an upset. J P’s Gusto, the 4-1 second choice, easily defeated 1-5 favorite Belleofthebridle in the Proctor.
Owned by Gem Inc. and trained by David Hofmans, the Successful Appeal colt out of the Caller I.D. mare Call Her Magic won by 4 ½ lengths in 1:02.97 for the 5 ½ furlongs. The clocking was a stakes record. The previous best since the Proctor was lengthened to 5 ½ furlongs in 2006 was 1:03.04 set by Backbackbackgone in 2008.
A troubled fifth as the 9-5 favorite in his debut on May 9, J P’s Gusto had clear sailing in the Proctor, tracking the pace on the outside under Talamo, then taking over early in the stretch. He pushed his earnings to $37,360.
The lone filly in the field of seven, Belleofthebridle, who had won by nearly six lengths in a quick 51.59 seconds going 4 ½ furlongs on April 21, finished 9 ¼ lengths ahead of Edgewick Road.
A $52,000 yearling purchase at the most recent Keeneland September sale, J P’s Gusto returned $10.80, $3 and $2.40. Belleofthebridle paid $2.10 and $2.10 while the show price on Edgewick Road was $2.40.