Soaring Free returns to Keeneland Saturday to defend his title in the $100,000-added Shakertown (gr. IIIT), facing 10 rivals in the 5 1/2-furlong turf event.Last year's runner-up, Chosen Chief, as well as the 2002 second-place finisher Mighty Beau, are also in the field.Sam-Son Farm's 6-year-old homebred Soaring Free, using the same NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) to Shakertown pattern trainer Mark Frostad used to kick off his gelding's fantastic 2004 season, will head the field for the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) undercard feature. Jerry Bailey will take the reins on the Canadian homebred.The gelded son of Smart Strike was voted last year's Canadian Horse of the Year and champion male turf horse after he won six of eight starts and earned $1,113,862. Soaring Free won the Atto Mile (Can-I), Play the King Handicap (Can-III), Scotts Highlander Handicap (Can-III), and Ontario Jockey Club Stakes, all at Woodbine.Soaring Free breaks from post 4 as the 3-1 morning line favorite.
Emmy Lynch's Chosen Chief, 12-1 on the morning line, will try to turn the tables on Soaring Free this time. With two prep races this year for trainer Ron Porter, the son of Marquetry should be set for a top effort with Robby Albarado aboard.
Trainer Jeff Mullins ships Mighty Beau. The pride of Anthony Carolan and Mike Cloonan finished second as a 3-year-old in the 2002 event, a nose behind top grass sprinter Morluc. Garret Gomez will fly in from California to ride.
$100,000-added Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT), 3 & up, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Relaunch Star (KY), Mike Smith, 119, 30/1
2. Mighty Beau (OK), Garrett Gomez, 121, 4/1
3. Chosen Chief (KY), Robby Albarado, 119, 12/1
4. Soaring Free (ON), Jerry Bailey, 121, 3/1
5. Red Lightning (KY), James Graham, 119, 20/1
6. Pomeroy (KY), Edgar Prado, 119, 9/2
7. Wrzeszcz (KY), Larry Melancon, 121, 8/1
8. Heckle (KY), John Velazquez, 119, 8/1
9. Battle Won (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 121, 4/1
10. Parker Run (KY), Brian Hernandez, Jr., 119, 30/1
11. Del Mar Show (KY), Gary Stevens, 119, 12/1