Just months after Bal a Bali beat a case of laminitis, the Brazilian Triple Crown winner's connections will continue to ask him for more in the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) June 13 at Santa Anita Park.
The 5-year-old son of Put It Back, co-owned by Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farms, won his U.S. debut in the May 9 American Stakes (gr. IIIT) after going 11-for-12 during his time in Brazil from 2013 to 2014.
BALAN: Bal a Bali Surges to Win American in U.S. Bow Santa Anita Park, Saturday, June 13, 2015, Race 5
"The sky is the limit here," trainer Richard Mandella said. "He's a really good horse. He ran nice the first time and we expect him to run good or better this time, and he'll have to. These are good horses, but I think he'll fit anywhere."
Bal a Bali will break from the outside in the five-horse field with return jockey Flavien Prat. All entrants will carry 119 pounds.
Familiar rivals Talco and Winning Prize—who ran second and fourth, respectively, in the American—will return to challenge. Talco, a French-bred owned by Hronis Racing, is a three-time graded stakes-place runner who had his best graded finish in the American. Winning Prize, an Argentinean-bred owned by David Heerensperger and Jose Nelson, won back-to-back stakes in the early-2014 Arcadia (gr. IIT) and Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT), but has yet to finish better than fourth in four graded tries since, including last year's Shoemaker Mile when he was sixth.
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Seek Again also provides back class, with victories in the 2013 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) and the 2014 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT), but ended last year with a sixth in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) and a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). The son of Speightstown could be primed for a quality run, however, following a third-place finish in the Wood Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs May 2 in his 5-year-old debut.
Lightly-raced Midnight Storm could also pose a significant threat, although he lacks the stakes experience of the rest of the field. The 4-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile is three-for-three since switching to turf late in 2014, including a score in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) in August. That victory is sandwiched between two allowance/optional claiming victories, including a 7 3/4-length win at a mile in his seasonal debut at Santa Anita April 16.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Winning Prize (ARG) Martin Garcia 119 Neil D. Drysdale - 2 2Talco (FR) Rafael Bejarano 119 John W. Sadler - 3 3Midnight Storm (KY) Tyler Baze 119 Philip D'Amato - 4 4Seek Again (KY) Jose Lezcano 119 William I. Mott - 5 5Bal a Bali (BRZ) Flavien Prat 119 Richard E. Mandella -
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, June 13, 2015, Race 5