INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 23, 2009) — Classy mare Ventura, beaten a nose when testing males two starts back in the Kilroe Mile, will attempt to become just the third female to win the Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day at Hollywood Park.
Only Happy Issue in 1946 and Special Touch in 1951 managed to beat the boys in the prestigious Shoemaker — the track’s oldest race. Run as the Premiere Handicap through 1989, it was the feature on opening day of Hollywood Park’s inaugural meeting on June 10, 1938.
The Shoemaker, moved from the main track to the turf course in 1984, was re-named for legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker in 1990 and has become one of the premier races in North America.
Accordingly, it has attracted a formidable field for Monday’s 66th running.
Juddmonte Farms’ Ventura, who was beaten a nose here last summer by Diamond Diva in the CashCall Mile, enters the Grade I Shoemaker with eight wins, seven seconds and a third in 18 starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. She has banked a race-high $1.6 million in earnings.
One of two horses in the race trained by Frankel, she comes off a second in the seven-furlong Madison at Keeneland. She won four of seven starts in 2008, including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at seven furlongs at Santa Anita.
Ventura will carry 119 pounds, five less than her male rivals in the Shoemaker, which lines up as follows from the rail out:
Hyperbaric, Victor Espinoza up; Whatsthescript, Joel Rosario; Storm Military, Brice Blanc; Ventura, Gomez; Dixie Chatter, Tyler Baze; Thorn Song, Mike Smith; U S Ranger, Rafael Bejarano, and Tiz West, Joe Talamo.
Besides 5-year-old mare Ventura, Hyperbaric, Dixie Chatter and Thorn Song are Grade I winners, while Whatsthescript is a Grade II winner and Tiz West is a Grade III winner.
Irish-bred Whatsthescript has won six of 14 starts, including the Grade II American Handicap here last summer following a six-month layoff. Also winner of the Del Mar Mile and third-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2008, the 5-year-old horse will be making his first start since finishing sixth in the Citation Handicap here last November. He has made $810,734.
Hyperbaric capped a four-race winning streak with his first Grade I score in the 2008 Citation. In his only subsequent start, he finished 14th in the Dubai Duty Free in March at Nad Al Sheba. The 6-year-old gelding has won seven of 13 starts for earnings of $654,476.
Dixie Chatter, who earned his Grade I victory on the main track as a 2-year-old in the Norfolk, finished a close third in the Kilroe Mile before winning the one-mile Arcadia Handicap on the Santa Anita turf course in early April. The Richard Mandella-trained colt has won four of 12 starts for earnings of $458,196.
Kentucky shipper Thorn Song won the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile in October at Keeneland, then finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The gray/roan 6-year-old enters the Shoemaker Mile with seven wins in 26 starts for earnings of $932,183.
Tiz West, a second Mandella-trained entrant, won the Cinema Handicap at nine furlongs on the Lakeside Turf Course last summer. The 4-year-old son of Gone West has won three of ten starts for earnings of $225,348.
Argenine-bred Storm Military, also trained by Frankel, figures to be prominent throughout. A winner of eight of 20 starts for earnings of $348,022, he set the pace before settling for second — beaten a head — by Madeo in the 1 1/16-mile Inglewood Handicap here in April.
U S Ranger, from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, will be making his fourth U.S. start. He finished fifth while making his Southern California debut in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Mile and pressed the pace while finishing a neck back in third in the Inglewood Handicap. The son of Danzig has won five of 18 starts for earnings of $438,076.
The Shoemaker Mile will run as the ninth of ten races on Monday’s special holiday program at Hollywood Park. First post time is at 1 p.m.
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