Sweet Return Drills for Shoemaker Mile

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Sweet Return and Tsigane each worked on the Hollywood Park turf course Sunday morning for the $350,000-added Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) on May 31.

Sweet Return worked five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 under exercise rider Angel Gonzalez Jr. while Tsigane was timed in 1:26 3/5 for seven furlongs with regular jockey David Flores.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally seeks one of the few major stakes to elude him with the versatile Sweet Return, winner of the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) on the grass in November.

"He's the ideal kind of horse," said McAnally. "He can be on the lead or come from behind. The turf can be soft or hard. He can win at a mile, a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter."

English-bred Sweet Return, owned by John Brunetti's Red Oak Stable, strung together victories in the Hollywood Derby, San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) and Kilroe Mile (gr. IIT) before finishing second in the Woodford Reserve Stakes (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs on May 1.

Victor Espinoza, also seeking his first Shoemaker victory, will ride the 4-year-old chestnut colt for the first time. A victory would elevate Sweet Return, who has earned $823,031, to millionaire status.

Tsigane seeks to give trainer Julio Canani his fourth Shoemaker victory in six years after triumphs with Silic in 1999 and 2000 and Ladies Din in 2002. Canani said the 5-year-old French import still has a lot to prove before being mentioned in the same breath with Silic, Ladies Din or Special Ring, runner-up in the Shoemaker last year.

"I've just been sprinting him since I got him," said Canani. "I hope he makes the adjustment." Tsigane, who covered the mile distance several times in France, won the Daytona Handicap on the hillside Santa Anita course in February and finished sixth in the Golden Shaheen Stakes (UAE-I) in Dubai in his last start on March 27.

A field of eight is likely for the Shoemaker: Designed For Luck (Patrick Valenzuela), Just Wonder (Corey Nakatani), King of Happiness (Kent Desormeaux), Singletary (Jose Valdivia, Jr.), Sweet Return (Espinoza), Tsigane (Flores) and supplementary entries Leroidesanimaux (Jon Court) and Dell Place (Javier Santiago).