Golden Pegasus Racing's Bolo looked like a longshot on paper for the $500,000, Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes May 27 at Santa Anita Park. The 7-year-old gelding was making his second start off nearly a two-year layoff, was off the board in his return race, and had not visited the winner's circle since February 2017. So when he went off odds of at 32.90-1, it was no surprise.
But when the gates opened at the Arcadia, Calif., oval Memorial Day, Bolo and jockey Florent Geroux got the jump on the rest of the nine-horse field and led every step of the way to earn an all-fees paid berth into the Breeders' Cup Mile Nov. 2 back at Santa Anita.
Bolo, trained by Carla Gaines, was facing a strong field featuring Maker's 46 Mile winner Delta Prince and 2018 Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Catapult, among other graded stakes winners. The son of Temple City, who ran in the 2015 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, had some back class, picking up his own graded scores in the 2016 and 2017 Arcadia Stakes once switched to grass.
He ran sixth in the Shoemaker Mile two years ago before making his return April 28 in a 1 1/8-mile allowance optional claiming event over Santa Anita's turf, fading to fifth after setting the early pace
"The first race in April was a bit far for him and he hadn't run in basically two years," Gaines said, "So it was sort of like let's get him out there and have him carve out some easy fractions and see if he can keep going. He got a little tired in the end (in his first race back), but today he didn't."
In this year's Shoemaker Mile, Bolo grabbed the lead and set opening quarter-mile fractions in :23.51, :46.95, and 1:10.44. Bolo showed no signs of feeling the pressure of a Grade 1 stakes as he maintained at least a length advantage at every point of call. Delta Prince, the 1.90-1, favorite, never threatened and finished seventh. Bolo went on to score by 1 ¼ lengths and completed the mile in 1:34.07 over good-rated turf.
"What an amazing horse and such an amazing job to Carla and her team," Geroux said. "She had the horse ready. Last time the horse ran better than what it looked like, it was a bit far for him being a mile and eighth and he only got beat a length and a half, so I had all the confidence in the world. I knew the horse was ready this time."
River Boyne beat out Bowies Hero by a nose for second. Sharp Samurai, Catapult, Ohio, Delta Prince, Le Ken, and Desert Stone completed the order of finish.
Bolo was bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm and was privately purchased by Golden Pegasus Racing. The Shoemaker Mile win improved his record to 6-1-4 in 19 starts with $976,870 in earnings.