By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase
The 69th running of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes brings together a very strong field of eight turf runners, seven of them having won graded stakes at this one-mile turf trip. The Shoemaker Mile being a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event, the winner will earn an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile this fall, so there is more on the line than just the winner’s share of the $300,000 purse.
Leading the field is Little Mike, coming off an upset win in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational Stakes, who probably will be in front from the opening strides as he has been in his last seven races. Suggestive Boy, winner of the prestigious Group 1 Jockey Club Stakes in Argentina last fall for his third consecutive Group 1 stakes win, makes his North American debut in the Shoemaker and appears to fit very well. Corporate Jungle won the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes in March at the distance of this race and recently won the Elkwood Stakes, so he is another with a chance at victory. Liberian Freighter returned from 10 months off in May for a third-place finish in the Grade 2 American Handicap, and he could improve back to the form that saw him win the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes in April 2011. Mr. Commons rallied for second in the American Handicap, and two races before that won this year’s Arcadia, so he adds to the level of talent in the Shoemaker. Hudson Landing and Jeranimo finished first and second, respectively, in the Grade 3 San Francisco Stakes in late April. Jeranimo rested since that start and Hudson Landing finished second via a disqualification in the Berkeley Handicap in his most recent race. Dubai You X Y Z rounds out the field, having returned from 13 months off at the end of April to win at this mile distance at Betfair Hollywood Park and, although he never has competed in a stakes, could step up to compete at this level.
Suggestive Boy returns to the races following eight months off and has been in training since the middle of April when coming to the U.S. and entering the care of Racing Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who won a stakes earlier in the meeting with a horse returning from a seven-month layoff. Working consistently and exclusively on the turf since that time, it appears that Suggestive Boy is in top shape and ready to pick up where he left off last year when winning three very important Group 1 events in Argentina, including the prestigious Jockey Club in October. Beating fields of 12, 10 and 15, respectively, and in each effort not fully asked for his best in any of those three wins, Suggestive Boy has star potential in the U.S. and can prove that with a victory in the Shoemaker Mile.
Little Mike is the one to catch, as usual, as he has established the lead from the start in each of his last eight races, wining six of them, including the Turf Classic Invitational in May. Even though he has a high cruising speed, Little Mike also runs the last quarter mile like a horse that comes from behind, giving him the ability to hold of his challengers much of the time. Having earned a strong 114 Equibase Speed Figure in the Turf Classic and a career-best 121 figure last year when victorious in the Appleton Stakes at this mile trip, Little Mike could prove an elusive target on the front end once more.
Corporate Jungle, like Little Mike, ships in from the East Coast in search of an automatic starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile by virtue of a win in this race. Corporate Jungle won this year’s Appleton Stakes with a strong 116 figure that stacks up favorably with the 114 figure Little Mike earned in the Turf Classic. Rested nearly two months after the Appleton, Corporate Jungle came back to win the one-mile Elkwood Stakes and enters the Shoemaker in peak form, and as a lightly raced four-year-old he may still have improving to do. As such, Corporate Jungle has a chance to earn his first Grade 1 stakes victory in this situation, particularly as he gets the services of the leading rider at the Betfair Hollywood Park meeting in Rafael Bejarano.
The rest of the Shoemaker Mile field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure: Dubai You X Y Z (108), Hudson Landing (102), Jeranimo (114), Liberian Freighter (111) and Mr. Commons (113).
$300,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes – Grade 1
Saturday, Race 9, Hollywood Park, Post Time 8:10 p.m. EDT
One mile on turf, for 3-year-olds and older
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Dubai You X Y Z (KY), B Blanc, M D Tsagalakis
2. Hudson Landing (KY), J J Hernandez, B D Wright
3. Little Mike (FL), J Bravo, D L Romans
4. Suggestive Boy (ARG), J Talamo, R L McAnally
5. Jeranimo (FL), G K Gomez, M Pender
6. Corporate Jungle (KY), R Bejarano, C C Brown
7. Liberian Freighter (CA), M Garcia, N D Drysdale
8. Mr. Commons (KY), M E Smith, J A Shirreffs
All carry 124 pounds.