INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 25, 2009) — A late decision to ship west paid big as supplemental entry Thorn Song set the pace and held off Hyperbaric and Storm Military in a furious stretch drive to win Monday’s $314,500 Shoemaker Mile by a head under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith at Hollywood Park.
Thorn Song, shipped here by Zayat Stables from Kentucky on Friday, covered one mile on the Lakeside Turf Course in 1:33.33 to snap a four-race winless streak in the 66th running of the Grade I Shoemaker.
Hyperbaric held second by a neck over Storm Military, while it was just another neck back to favorite Whatsthescript in the field of seven. Morning-line favorite Ventura was scratched.
Thorn Song was stiffly tested by Hyperbaric and Storm Military turning for home, but maintained the advantage while winning for the eighth time in 27 starts. He became a millionaire, banking $192,300 to boost his earnings to $1,124,483.
“He just ran dynamite,” Smith said. “I’m so proud of him. There were some really good horses in there. Dale (Romans) called me and said, ‘Mike, I really want him on the lead. Even if you have to go a little faster than you like, that’s where I’d like him.’ He broke sharp and I was able to get the easy lead and he never stopped trying. I’ll tell you, he’s a fighting little dude. At one point they may have got a jump or two in front, but he came back.”
Although a top miler and winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile in October at Keeneland, Thorn Song was allowed to slip away at odds of 9-1 in the tough Shoemaker field and rewarded backers with payoffs of $21.20, $9.20 and $6.20. Hyperbaric, ridden by Victor Espinoza, paid $5.40 and $3.60, while the show price on Storm Military was $6.60 with Brice Blanc up.
The decision to ship to California was made after owner Ahmad Zayat spotted the Grade I Shoemaker while looking for possible races for the 6-year-old gray/roan son of Unbridled’s Song. A plane was available, the $5,000 supplemental fee paid, and Thorn Song was headed west.
“I tell you what, he ran a huge race,” said Tom Morgan, assistant to Romans. “I think he needed the last couple races off a four and one-half month layoff. He had a tough campaign last year and I think he just ran lights out today. You couldn’t ask for a better trip and it was a great ride by Mike. When he’s on his game, he’s tough to beat. This race just popped up, he was a late supplement for it.”
Hyperbaric, winner of the Citation Handicap in his last appearance here in November, seemed poised to catch the leader at the head of the stretch.
“He ran an unbelievable race,” Espinoza said. “Turning for home, I started riding but he was lugging in a little and it got pretty tight between horses. I couldn’t ride him really the way I wanted, but he ran great.”
Joel Rosario, the jockey on Whatsthescript, said the race didn’t set up well for his mount.
“He ran a really good race, but the horses in front just kept going,” Rosario said. “He might have needed the race. Hopefully he’ll be better next time.”
Espinoza rode three winners on the card, including a pair for Bob Baffert. He completed the hat-trick aboard Baffert-trained Only Be Cause in the nightcap, one of four horses covered in the Pick Six. Two winning tickets were worth $294,018.40 apiece.
Joe Talamo and Garrett Gomez each rode a pair of winners, while leading trainer Doug O’Neill saddled his 18th and 19th winners.
Racing resumes Friday at Hollywood Park with a 7:05 p.m. post time.
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