Ladies Din roles to victory in the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.

Ladies Din roles to victory in the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.

AP/Benoit photos

Hollywood Park Race Report (Cont.)

Even the loquacious Desormeaux, however, struggles to determine exactly how Astra does it. No matter, though. When Astra shows up, just sit down and brace yourself for the fireworks.

The Gamely was by far Astra's most breathtaking victory, though things weren't looking too favorable when Starine slipped clear in midstretch. The move was so decisive, in fact, Desormeaux cursed himself for not engaging her sooner, and for a time, he figured Starine was long gone. Most everyone in the house thought the same thing as well. With two lengths to make up and less than 100 yards to do it, however, Astra shed Voodoo Dancer, and in a display of sheer will, ran down Starine. The margin was a head. The time was 1:46.93. There won't be a better race all year.

Now 10-for-14 lifetime and a newly-minted millionaire to boot, Astra became only the second mare in history to win the Gamely twice. Where the 6-year-old daughter of Theatrical turns up next, though, remains to be seen. De Seroux is inclined to ease off at this stage, purposefully saving Astra for a late-summer campaign designed to put her right in the heart of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) five months hence. This, she said, was simply a step towards the ultimate goal, a conviction she picked up as an eager pupil years ago.

"We were always amazed how Charlie would plan for the big race," De Seroux recalled. "He'd pick a race that he wanted to win, and the race next week was never the most important thing. It was his long-range objective. We saw him accomplish it so many times, and we were always awestruck by how he'd say a long time out that that's what he was going to do."
With Azeri and Astra, De Seroux--one of "Charlie's Angels"--is truly taking wing.

Roaring Din
It wasn't exactly Seabiscuit's quest to attain the Santa Anita Handicap, but Ladies Din finally did it, pulling down the $408,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile Stakes (gr. IT) on May 27.

Were it not for one of the best grass milers in recent memory, namely his former barnmate, Silic, it's possible that 7-year-old Ladies Din could have a Shoemaker hat-trick by now. When he was four, Silic edged him a wafer-thin nose. A year later, the difference was a half-length. This time around, the Din's Dancer gelding would not be denied.

Owned by Terrence Lanni and Bernard Schiappa and trained by Julio Canani, Ladies Din broke casually under jockey Pat Valenzuela and settled in along the fence. Far up ahead, Orientate and Special Ring dueled through a :46.22 half, and their battle put them well clear of the others. Turning into the stretch following six furlongs in 1:09.42, though, Ladies Din and Redattore were on the attack.

Ladies Din, it turned out, had the best punch. Leaving Redattore to deal with the pacesetters, he vaulted clear to score by three lengths. Spinelessjellyfish beat out Orientate and Thady Quill for third, a length behind Redattore. The mile went in 1:33.39.

At the Wire
The Milady was not without catastrophe. Cashmina, a promising Cherokee Run filly trained by John Shirreffs, broke down halfway through the race, suffering a complete displaced lateral condylar fracture of her right front leg. She was later euthanized ... Like a Hero ran a nice one in the nine-furlong Alydar Stakes on May 23 and earned a crack at War Emblem in the process. Bred and owned by Andrea Pollack, the 3-year-old Pleasant Colony colt will take a three-race win streak into the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). "The more distance he goes, the better he seems to get," mentioned trainer Beau Greely...Captain Squire fought off Fonz's to take the $150,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. II) by a neck on May 27. Under Chance Rollins, the 3-year-old son of Flying Chevron got the seven furlongs in 1:21.95. Jeff Mullins trains the colt for owners Robert Bone and Jeff Diener...The Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes for 2-year-olds went to the maiden Crowned Dancer, a Tactical Advantage colt from the Christopher Paasch stable.

(Chart, Equibase)