Victor's Cry returns to defend his title in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes (gr. IT) July 2 at Hollywood Park. While he's no lock to go favored in a well-matched turf field, he's going to get much more respect than he did in springing last year's 21-1 shock.
Trained by Eoin Harty for Equilete Stable, this will be the first race for 6-year-old Victor's Cry since he finished a respectable fifth in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on the turf at Meydan Racecourse March 26.
“It’s a big ask to bring a horse back from Dubai,” said Alex Elliott, Harty's assistant. “He runs well fresh and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
The Shoemaker Mile is one of two grade I races on the Hollywood program, along with the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap. The Shoemaker, with a field of seven, is race 6 on the program with a probable post of 3:36 p.m. PDT.
Named in honor of the legendary jockey who won 2,416 races at Hollywood Park, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ race. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), which will be run Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Victor's Cry, retaining the services of jockey Victor Espinoza, will have his work cut out for him against a field that includes Courageous Cat , Caracortado , and Liberian Freighter. But he has shown a fondness for the Hollywood turf, winning three of five starts over the surface including the Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) two months after he stunned last year's Shoemaker foes.
In the 2010 Shoemaker, Victor's Cry rallied from eighth under Corey Nakatani to get up by a head over Karelian.
Victor’s Cry, a Virginia-bred son of Street Cry, has won six of 23 lifetime starts while earning $726,021. He breaks from post 6 seeking to become the first repeat in the Shoemaker since Silic in 1999 and 2000.
Invading from New York for trainer Bill Mott, 5-year-old Courageous Cat opened his 2011 campaign with an easy 2 1/4-length score in Belmont Park's Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) on a good turf course June 10.
In his only prior start in Southern California, Pam and Martin Wygod's regally bred son of Storm Cat out of the grade I winner Tranquility Lake finished second by a half-length to Goldikova in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita. A grade II winner at 3, Courageous Cat has five victories in 12 starts with earnings of $781,300 and will have Patrick Valenzuela aboard for his Hollywood debut. They drew the rail.
“Courageous Cat will be tough to beat,” said Elliott.
Mott has enjoyed grade I success at Hollywood previously, winning the 2008 Hollywood Derby with Court Vision , the 1995 Matriarch with Duda, and the 1992 Hollywood Turf Cup with Fraise.
In spite of fading to fifth in the American Handicap (gr. IIT) in his most recent start May 28, Liberian Freighter has enjoyed a good campaign thus far for trainer Neil Drysdale. The 6-year-old California-bred Bertrando gelding won the Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) and Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his two previous starts. He appears to have landed in a spot where his ability to dictate the pace will make him dangerous.
Martin Garcia, aboard Liberian Freighter for each of his starts in 2011, retains the mount. They will have to overcome the far outside post.
Caracortado won his only prior start on the Hollywood lawn in an optional claiming allowance last November, and he is three-for-three overall at Hollywood.
Winner of the Sunshine Millions Turf in January, the 4-year-old California-bred son of Cat Dreams has rallied too late in his two most recent starts and finished out of the money both times. He missed by a head to Fluke in the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita in March. Joe Talamo rides for trainer Mike Machowsky.
Green Grass Stable's Ashtar is a Chilean-bred 4-year-old colt making his first start in the United States for trainer Ruben Cardenas. The son of Merchant of Venice is coming off a grade I win in his native country Feb. 6.
Smokey Lonesome and Blue Chagall, one-two respectively in an optional claimer on the Hollywood lawn June 3, complete the field.
The French-bred Blue Chagall is looking to give trainer Julio Canani a record-tying fourth win in the Shoemaker. He won a stakes at Hollywood last fall and ran a close second to Liberian Freighter in the Arcadia April 9.
Smokey Lonesome, from the Art Sherman barn, makes his first stakes appearance since finishing second in the La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita more than two years ago.
$300,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes (gr. IT, Race 6, 3:36 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Courageous Cat (KY), P A Valenzuela, W I Mott
2. Blue Chagall (FR), J Rosario, J C Canani
3. Smokey Lonesome (KY), R Bejarano, A Sherman
4. Ashtar (CHI), M A Pedroza, R Cardenas
5. Caracortado (CA), J Talamo, M Machowsky
6. Victor's Cry (VA), V Espinoza, E G Harty
7. Liberian Freighter (CA), M Garcia, N D Drysdale
Each carries 124 pounds.