Shoemaker Mile Stakes 2020 preview

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Monday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park kicks off the U.S. schedule of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races as a qualifying race for the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

The Memorial Day race is named after legendary Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker and regularly draws a deep, talented field. With limited opportunities over the last few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Shoemaker Mile lured a gifted cast of 11 turf milers for what should be an excellent edition of the Grade 1 race.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Read on for more information about the contenders for the 2020 Shoemaker Mile.

SHOEMAKER MILE STAKES

Racetrack: Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Date: May 25
Purse: $300,000
Distance: 1 mile
Race: 9
Post Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Notable winners: J. O. Tobin (1978) Steinlen (1988), Fastness (1996), Labeeb (1998), Silic (1999, 2000), Aragorn (2006), The Tin Man (2007), Obviously (2013, 2014)
First held: 1938

1. Without Parole (4-1 morning line): A Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot in 2018, he has not been quite the same racehorse since that victory, which capped a four-race winning streak to begin his career. He’s been well-beaten in each of his seven races since then with the lone bright spot a solid third in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile last November. Came up very small in his 2020 debut when 11th of 12 in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. He’s a threat at his best and you almost certainly will get the best price we’ve seen in his third start in the U.S., but Without Parole is one that I’ll take a stand against here. Looking elsewhere.

JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.TRAINER: Chad Brown

2. True Valour (20-1): A multiple graded stakes winner on this course at this distance, True Valour is winless in three starts this year but his most recent race – fourth by a length in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile – was a nice step in the right direction as he came just a point from matching his career-best Equibase Speed Figure with a 113. Prefer others on top but he’s capable of filling out the trifecta or superfecta at a nice price.

JOCKEY: Jose Valdivia Jr.TRAINER: Simon Callaghan

3. Next Shares (12-1): All or nothing type who is capable of winning a Grade 1 (see 2018 Shadwell Turf Mile) or finishing way up the track. Most recently ran third, beaten by only a neck by River Boyne on this course and distance in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile. A tough one to predict but when he’s good, he’s very good. Demand a price … if you get it, Next Shares is worth rolling the dice on.

JOCKEY: John VelazquezTRAINER: Richard Baltas

4. Voodoo Song (12-1): He can get very brave when allowed to set the pace uncontested, but he has not been competitive on open stakes since winning the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap in August 2018. Probably safe to toss his 2020 debut when sixth in the Grade 3 San Simeon because he broke poorly and lost position early, but he has not shown much against elite competition over the last 20 months.

JOCKEY: Mike SmithTRAINER: Richard Mandella

Monday, May 25: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

5. War of Will (4-1): Grade 1-placed on the grass as a 2-year-old, the 2019 Preakness Stakes winner makes his return to turf racing in a tough spot with a new rider against a quality field off a 6 ½-month layoff. He’s a talented racehorse, no doubt, but I’ll let him beat me here given the circumstances. Looking elsewhere.

JOCKEY: Flavien PratTRAINER: Mark Casse

6. Blitzkrieg (20-1): Returns for his first start since a four-race stretch in Dubai from January to March where he ran well enough, including a third-place finish in a Group 2 race, without winning. Three of his five wins came sprinting on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, and at this mile distance against this group he looks a bit overmatched unless he’s allowed to absolutely steal it on the front end.

JOCKEY: Drayden Van DykeTRAINER: Doug O’Neill

7. Majestic Eagle (20-1): Won the Grade 3 American Stakes on this course at this distance in June 2019 but is winless in five subsequent races with only one top-three finish. Wouldn’t be a shock to see him get a nice stalking trip and run well, but I’d have trouble using him on my exotic tickets given the quality of the opposition.

JOCKEY: Jorge VelezTRAINER: Neil Drysdale

8. Raging Bull (7-2): He has not raced since a troubled third-place finish in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Sept. 14, 2019, but he’s a definite threat at his best having won a Grade 1 in Southern California back in December 2018 and competed admirably in five Grade 1 races in 2019: one second, two thirds, and two fourths. Tough to win off this long of a layoff against elite competition, but he’s a serious turf miler in with a shot if ready to fire.

JOCKEY: Joel RosarioTRAINER: Chad Brown

9. March to the Arch (6-1): Hard-hitting vet ventures to the West Coast for the first time in his career. Grade 2 winner is always flying late and his last two races were very good, but he’s stepping back up in class and a minor award might be his ceiling. Viewing him more as a closer at what figures to be a price who might spice up the exacta or trifecta.

JOCKEY: Victor EspinozaTRAINER: Mark Casse

10. Neptune’s Storm (15-1): Makes his 4-year-old bow coming off a very nice 3-year-old season in which he won four times and finished in the top three in all 11 of his starts in 2019. Might have a bit of a tactical advantage as one of the few runners entered with early speed. He needs to take a step forward from a speed-figure perspective to win but it’s possible he matured and filled out in his five-plus months on the sidelines.

JOCKEY: Umberto RispoliTRAINER: Richard Baltas

11. River Boyne (4-1): Enters Shoemaker Mile on a roll coming off back-to-back wins at this distance and turf course in the Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes Feb. 8 and Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes March 7. He’s super-consistent, too, as he’s only lost by more than three lengths once in his 21 races in the U.S. River Boyne has shown a little more tactical speed this year and that’s been a big help. Top win candidate.

JOCKEY: Abel CedilloTRAINER: Jeff Mullins

THE PICK: River Boyne

LIVE LONGSHOT: Neptune’s Storm

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.