Courageous Cat Seeks Grade I Success In Shoemaker Mile: Smiling Tiger, Amazombie Headline Triple Bend Handicap

Racing News
Posted 06.29.11 at 1:54

Courageous Cat cruises to victory in the $100,000 Poker Stakes (GIII) June 10 at Belmont Park. Photo by Adam Coglianese

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 29, 2011)—Second in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Mile in his only previous visit to California, Courageous Cat will seek the first Grade I victory of his career in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Saturday at Hollywood Park.

The 68th running of the turf race is the richer of two Grade I events to be offered Saturday. A quality field of sprinters will tangle in the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs over Cushion Track.

Post time Saturday is 1 p.m. The Shoemaker is the sixth of 10 races. The Triple Bend is the ninth.

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, which will be run Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Additionally, the Breeders’ Cup nominated Shoemaker Mile winner will have pre-entry and entry fees waived for the BC Mile and receive a $10,000 travel allowance.

Owned by breeders Pam and Marty Wygod and trained by Bill Mott, Courageous Cat arrives from New York after beginning his 5-year-old campaign with a 2 ¼ length win in the Grade III Poker Stakes June 11 at Belmont Park.

A son of Storm Cat and the Rahy mare Tranquility Lake, Courageous Cat has won five of 12 and earned $781,300. He was defeated by a half-length by the brilliant Goldikova when runner-up in the 2009 BC Mile at Santa Anita.

Success in a turf Grade I at Hollywood Park would not be something new for Mott. The Hall of Fame trainer won the 2008 Hollywood Derby with Court Vision. Earlier victories include Duda in the 1995 Matriarch and Fraise in the 1992 Hollywood Turf Cup.

One of Courageous Cat’s opponents is defending champion Victor’s Cry, who rallied from well off the pace to win at 21-1 last year.

Owned by Equilete Stable and trained by Eoin Harty, Victor’s Cry, who has earned half of his six victories on the Hollywood Park grass, will attempt to become the first repeat winner since Silic went back-to-back in 1999 and 2000.

An earner of $726,021 in 23 starts, Victor’s Cry, a 6-year-old Street Cry ridgling out of the Clever Trick mare Short Time, will be making his first appearance since finishing fifth in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free March 26 at Meydan Race Course in the United Arab Emirates.

Caracortado returns to turf after finishing sixth – defeated by only three-quarters of a length – in the Alysheba Stakes May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Blahut Racing and Hi Lo Racing and trained by Mike Machowsky, who also bred the gelding, Caracortado has won seven of 14. The son of Cat Dreams and the Maria’s Mon mare Mons Venus has earned $558,105.

Liberian Freighter will be seeking his sixth win on the Hollywood Park turf. A 6-year-old gelded son of Bertrando and the Slewpy mare Anachristina, the California bred is owned by breeder King Edward Racing Stable, Shawn Dugan and Charles Winner and trained by Neil Drysdale.

A winner of 10 of 28 with earnings of $736,740, Liberian Freighter won consecutive graded races earlier in the year, including the Grade III Inglewood Handicap April 24. He finished fifth of six in the American Handicap in his most recent appearance May 28.

Julio Canani will be represented by Blue Chagall as the trainer aims for a record-tying fourth win in the Shoemaker. Canani, who has won previously with Ladies Din (2002) and the aforementioned Silic will attempt to equal the mark held by James Nazworthy.

Owned by Prestonwood Farm, Blue Chagall, a French bred son of Testa Rosa and the Pitskelly mare Eloisey, has won six of 31. The 6-year-old gelding has earned $373,649, but is without a graded win in the United States. He won a Group III as a 2-year-old in his native country in 2007.

Smokey Lonesome, who has won two of five on this layout, will make his first graded appearance on turf for owners Bruce Chandler and Stuart Tsujimoto and trainer Art Sherman. The 5-year-old Teton Forest gelding and the Alysheba mare Exclusive Symbol has won four of 12 and earned $182,610.

Ashtar will make his first start in this country after winning six of 14 in his native Chile. Owned by Green Grass Stable and trained by Ruben Cardenas, the 4-year-old Merchant of Venice colt and the Hussonet mare Mey has banked $167,517.

From inside out, the field for the Shoemaker Mile: Courageous Cat, Patrick Valenzuela rides, 124 pounds; Blue Chagall, Joel Rosario, 124; Smokey Lonesome, Rafael Bejarano, 124; Ashtar, Martin Pedroza, 124; Caracortado, Joe Talamo, 124; Victor’s Cry, Victor Espinoza, 124 and Liberian Freighter, Martin Garcia, 124.

A five time graded stakes winner, Smiling Tiger will return to a venue where he is undefeated (2-for-2) when he starts in the Triple Bend.

Owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde, Smiling Tiger, who won the Lazaro Barrera Memorial May 22, 2010 and the Grade I Ancient Title less than five months later in his earlier races over Cushion Track, enters off a much-troubled trip in the Churchill Downs Handicap May 7.

The Hold That Tiger colt out of the Cahill Road mare Shandra Smiles, who won the Grade III Count Fleet Handicap April 14 at Oaklawn Park, finished sixth as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade II on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Seeking to become the first 4-year-old to win the Triple Bend since Street Boss in 2008, Smiling Tiger enters with earnings of $999,353. He’s won seven of 15.

A winner of two of three since being claimed for $40,000 Feb. 13 at Santa Anita, Camp Victory gained the victory in the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap May 30 after original winner Amazombie was disqualified and placed third for alleged stretch interference.

Owned by a partnership and trained by Mike Mitchell, Camp Victory, a 4-year-old Forest Camp gelding out of the Clever Trick mare Victory Trick, has won seven of 16 and banked $235,986.

Amazombie was denied a third consecutive win when he had his number taken down in the Los Angeles. The gelding had won the Grade II Potrero Grande at Santa Anita and the Tiznow on California Gold Rush Day (April 23) in his prior two starts.

Co-owned by trainer Bill Spawr and Thomas Sanford, the 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet and the In Excess mare Wilshe Amaze has won eight of 19 and banked $505,780. Spawr is aiming for his second Triple Bend win with a California bred, having scored with Sensational Star in 1989. The last Cal bred to win the race was Bilo in 2007.

M One Rifle, moved up to second in the Los Angeles, will seek his third victory at the Triple Bend distance. Owned and bred by trainer Bruce Headley, Ed Bernstein and Brian Greenspan, the 5-year-old gelded son of One Man Army and the Bertrando mare Leanessa has five wins in 14 starts and earnings of $491,002.

Fourth in last year’s Triple Bend – 4 ¾ lengths behind winner E Z’s Gentleman – M One Rifle’s victories at seven furlongs both occurred in 2009 – the Real Good Deal for California breds at Del Mar and the Grade I Malibu at Santa Anita.

Undefeated in five starts around one turn, Bench Points will take on older rivals for the first time for a partnership and trainer Tim Yakteen.

A California bred son of Benchmark out of the Free House mare Mo Chuisle, Bench Points won the Grade III Lazaro Barrera Memorial May 15 in his debut at seven furlongs.

Bench Points, who has earned $278,280 while winning five of seven, will try to become only the fifth 3-year-old to win a race that will be run for the 60th time. He would join Zensational (2009), Messenger of Song (1975), Wallet Lifter (1962) and Nashville (1957).

After impressive wins in his first two starts as a gelding, Color of Courage will make his initial appearance in graded company for owner-breeders John and Cheryl Toffan and trainer Paco Gonzalez.

A 4-year-old son of Came Home and the Holy Bull mare Color Magic, Color of Courage has won four of six while earning $132,240. He had been away for more than 19 months when he won an allowance at 6 ½ furlongs May 15, then stretched to seven furlongs and prevailed again June 10.

A win by the bay would be the first in a Grade I for Gonzalez since Color of Courage’s sire won the 2002 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Uh Oh Bango will cut back in distance after four consecutive starts around two turns. Owned by breeder Triple A Ranch and trained by R. Kory Owens, the 4-year-old Top Hit colt out of the French Deputy mare French Debutante has won four of 12 and banked $411,812.

He enters the Triple Bend on a two race win streak, the first of his career. The Arizona bred won an optional claimer by a half-length May 12 over Cushion Track, then shipped to Golden Gate Fields and won the Grade III Berkeley by a head over Bold Chieftain May 30. Both victories were at 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer Bob Baffert will be aiming for his third Triple Bend win in a row and a record-tying fourth overall when he saddles El Martillo.

Owned by Maria Gomez, the 6-year-old Tiznow horse out of the Mountain Cat mare Mountain Dawn has won five of 24 and earned $217,700. El Martillo won his last start, taking an optional claimer April 28.

Baffert, who won the race in 2009 with Zensational and E Z’s Gentleman a year ago, would join Charlie Whittingham, who holds the record with four Triple Bend victories, as the only trainer to win the race three times in a row. Whittingham won in succession with Porterhouse (1955-1956) and Nashville (1957).

From inside out, the field for the Triple Bend Handicap: M One Rifle, Chantal Sutherland rides, 117 pounds; Camp Victory, Joe Talamo, 114; Smiling Tiger, Joel Rosario, 122; El Martillo, Martin Garcia, 115; Color of Courage, David Flores, 116; Uh Oh Bango, Patrick Valenzuela, 116; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 123 and Bench Points, Rafael Bejarano, 112.

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