Trainer Gary Mandella hopes that Japanese-bred Silent Name can follow in the footsteps of last year's American Oaks (gr. IT) victor Cesario with a victory Monday on the Hollywood Park turf in the $300,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
Cesario became a national heroine before a large group of her Japanese owners and fans at Hollywood by becoming the first horse bred in her country to win a grade I stake in the United States with a decisive triumph in the $750,000 American Oaks. She was immensely popular because she was also raced in Japan for a large partnership of Japanese owners.
Silent Name seeks to do the same in the Shoemaker but he took a different path to the United States. The 4-year-old son of Sunday Silence was bred and is owned by European brothers Gerard and Alain Wertheimer and began his career in France with three victories in ten starts for trainer Christiane Head-Maarek.
Silent Name joined the Mandella barn in California at the end of last year and has been impressive while winning his first two starts this year at Santa Anita, the last in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. II) at one mile on turf on April 8.
"He has responded so well to freshening that I'm going to try not to over-race him," explained Mandella of the seven-week break between races. Only Terroplane, fourth-place finisher in the Arcadia, has enjoyed as lengthy a break between races of the seven Shoemaker entrants.
"I would like to race him only three more times this year after the Shoemaker," said Mandella, whose primary objective is the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. "Those three would be the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Mile (Aug. 26), the Breeders' Cup and the Citation Handicap, a Grade I, here after the Breeders' Cup."
French-bred Charmo, a winner of four of six starts in the United States, has a chance to give trainer Julio Canani a fourth victory in the Shoemaker.
Canani finished one-two with Silic and Ladies Din in 1999 and 2000 and he won for a third time with Ladies Din in 2002.
The Shoemaker, inaugurated as the Premiere Handicap on Hollywood Park's opening day of racing on June 10, 1938, runs as the eighth of ten races and drew a field of seven for Monday's 63rd renewal. All carry 124 pounds.
Charmo, a 5-year-old gray horse, failed to win in 16 starts in France, but has emerged as a winner since being purchased by David Milch and settling into the Canani stable last fall. He won the San Francisco Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) by one length over fellow Shoemaker starter Aragorn while making his last start at Golden Gate Fields on April 29.
Contention runs deep in the Shoemaker as all but five-time winner Terroplane are graded or group winners.
Irish-bred Aragorn won the 2005 Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT). Diamond Green is a group III winner in France and a three-time runner-up in group I events at the Shoemaker distance. Milk It Mick won the Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) as a 2-year-old at Newmarket in 2003 and the Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita in 2006. And Willow O Wisp is a multiple graded winner whose most recent triumph came in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the course on April 29.$300,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Terroplane (FR), Jose Valdivia, Jr.
2. Charmo (FR), Martin A. Pedroza
3. Diamond Green (FR), Alex O. Solis
4. Silent Name (JPN), Victor Espinoza
5. Milk It Mick (GB), David R. Flores
6. Willow O Wisp (FL), David Cohen
7. Aragorn (IRE), Corey S. NakataniEach assigned 124 pounds.