Shoemaker Mile is First 2021 U.S. Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Race
ARCADIA, Calif. (May 28, 2021) ― Cannon Thoroughbreds’ multiple graded stakes-winner Smooth Like Strait and Electric City Racing, Madaket Stables, Christopher Dunn and Jeremy Peskoff’s Whisper Not (GB) headline a field of seven runners in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) to be run at 1-mile on the turf on Monday, May 31, at Santa Anita Park. The Shoemaker Mile, the first U.S. Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race of 2021, will award the winner an automatic starting position into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The Shoemaker Mile will be televised live on TVG with post time scheduled for 4 p.m. PT.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 84 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California on Nov. 5-6.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the Shoemaker Mile winner to start in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance of $10,000 for all domestic starters based outside of California to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of Oct. 25 to receive the rewards.
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, and has taken some tough losses in Grade 1 races. He had a hard luck third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 1. Smooth Like Strait set the pace and held the lead until mid-stretch when his saddle slipped. He still fought gamely to the wire and finished just a neck behind Colonel Liam and Domestic Spending, who wound up in a dead heat. Smooth Like Strait was also beaten by a neck in his previous start, the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on March 6.
Last November, Smooth Like Strait lost the Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar by a head, but bookended around that defeat were two Grade 2 victories at Santa Anita in the Twilight Derby and the Mathis Brothers Mile. Smooth Like Strait also won the La Jolla Handicap (G3) in August at Del Mar. Smooth Like Straight will be ridden by Umberto Rispoli from post two.
McCarthy has also entered Scott Heider’s 4-year-old Crossfirehurricane, who will be making his U.S. debut after winning four of six races in Ireland for trainer Joseph O’Brien. A chestnut son of Kitten’s Joy, Crossfirehurricane won the Group 3 Coolmore Ten Sovereigns Gallinule Stakes last May before finishing 10th in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1). Mario Gutierrez has the mount, breaking from post three.
Since coming over from Great Britain in the second half of 2020, Whisper Not has hit the board in all five of his starts for trainer Richard Baltas. A bay son of Poet’s Voice (GB), Whisper Not has won his last two races at the 1-mile distance. In a March 6 turf allowance at Santa Anita, Whisper Not opened up a 10-length lead through the first half-mile, and held on to win by 1 ¼ lengths. In his most recent start, he came from off the pace in the San Francisco Mile (G3) at Golden Gate Fields on April 24 to win by a head as the 7-5 favorite. Geovanni Franco will ride Whisper Not from post six.
A Grade 1 winner cutting back in distance is Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm’s Say the Word. A 6-year-old More Than Ready gelding bred in Canada, Say the Word captured the 1 ½-mile Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on April 17. Before that, he finished second to the talented United by three-quarters of a length in the 1 ½-mile San Luis Rey Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita on March 20. Trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden by Flavien Prat from post six, Say the Word earned his Grade 1 last year at Woodbine, taking the 1 ½-mile Northern Dancer Stakes by a length.
Kelly Brinkerhoff and Bob Grayson Jr.’s 6-year-old gelding Restrainedvengence finished third in the San Francisco Mile, two lengths behind Whisper Not. A bay son of Hold Me Back trained by Val Brinkerhoff, Restrainedvengence has eight career wins. Prior to the San Francisco Mile, he finished second in the listed Santana Mile Stakes on dirt at Santa Anita on March 28. Restrainedvengence will be ridden from post four by Tyler Baze.
The Baltas-trained Next Shares (Trevor McCarthy, post one), and Little Red Feather Racing and Sterling Stables’ Raymundo’s Secret (Juan Hernandez, post five), complete the field.
The Shoemaker Mile will be the third “Win and You’re In” this year for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile. On Jan. 9, Jet Dark (SAF) won the L’Ormarins Queens Plate (G1) at Kenilworth in South Africa, and on May 2, Succeso (CHI) captured the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) at Club Hipico Santiago in Chile.
Breeders’ Cup Press Release