The Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer season, and a trio of Grade 1 races headlines the holiday card at Santa Anita. Each of the three races carries a purse of $300,000, and the North American Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series begins with the Shoemaker Mile Stakes.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships are Nov. 5 and 6 at Del Mar — “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” — 110 miles South of Santa Anita.
Monday’s race is the first of 51 North American Breeders’ Cup Challenge races.
Memorial Day – Monday, May 31
Race 7 – Shoemaker Mile: 1 mile on the turf
Favorites: Smooth Like Strait (4-5) and Whisper Not (5-2)
Race 8 – Hollywood Gold Cup: 1 1/4 miles
Favorites: Express Train (2-1), Royal Ship (5-2) and Country Grammar (5-2)
Race 10: Gamely Stakes: 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares on the turf
Favorites: Charmaine’s Mia (8-5) and Keeper Ofthe Stars (5-2)
Shoemaker Mile favorites and profiles
Smooth Like Strait, a homebred 4-year-old bay son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Midnight Lute, has won six of 14 starts for trainer Michael McCarthy. He’s taken some tough losses in Grade 1 races, including in March, when he lost by a neck going 1 mile over the Santa Anita turf course. Smooth Like Strait has hit the board in his last five races, all Grade 1 or 2, with a pair of wins and finished third last time out when posting his best Equibase Speed Figure (112).
Whisper Not (GB) has hit the board in all five US starts since coming over from Great Britain in October. He’s won his last two starts for local trainer Richard Baltas, including his fastest speed figure (114) when winning the San Francisco Mile (G3) last month at Golden Gate. He finished 2 lengths in front of third-place finisher Restrainedvengence (8-1), who will try again in the Shoemaker Mile.
Say the Word (4-1) had leading local jockey Flavien Prat riding for trainer Phil D’Amato. He won a Grade 2 race at Keeneland last month going 1 1/2 miles and also finished second over this track at 1 1/2 miles to a top talented California turf runner.
The Santa Anita Winter-Spring Meet runs through June 20.