The world may be in confusing times right now but Monday everything ran as usual for Chad Brown when he tallied a 1-3 finish in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on the turf at Santa Anita Park.
Shipping Grade 1 winners Raging Bull and Without Parole to Southern California for the stacked race, Brown had a full hand. The decision to head West worked as Raging Bull earned Win and You’re In spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Running five times last year, Raging Bull hadn’t finished worse than fourth in 2019 but came into the Shoemaker Mile searching for his first victory since the 2018 Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Breaking from post eight, the 5-year-old was happy to gallop along with just two horses beat early. Raging Bull circled into the far turn while stablemate Without Parole was stuck on the rail to put himself just behind the leading Neptune’s Storm at the top of the stretch.
Raging Bull took command in the final furlong to romp home by 2 1/4 lengths over Next Shares. Grade 1 winner Next Shares ran his own impressive race when squeezed at the start to drop back 15 1/2 lengths behind the leader at one point before rallying in the final furlong.
“He ran a super race and he always runs good,” said Brown’s assistant Juan Hernandez of Raging Bull. “He had trained well here and he was acting good. He’s just a very special horse.”
In a race where multiple horses had issues, Brown’s other trainee Without Parole was finally given a sliver of running room on the rail in the final sixteenth of a mile to wrap up third.
Last year’s Preakness winner War Of Will returned to the turf for the first time since his juvenile season and finished fourth. Due to veering in at the start, he was disqualified to sixth.
Stakes of the Week: Keeper Ofthe Stars finished off a strong weekend of stakes action when netting her first Grade 1 victory in Sunday’s Gamely at Santa Anita.
Coming into the race off her first graded stakes score in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes in February, the 4-year-old raced in a clear third early in the 1 1/8-mile turf race. She was content to race a few paths off the rail down the backside as Simply Breathless took the position on the rail to give her some company.
As the field navigated the turn, Keeper Ofthe Stars was ready to make her move and in no time at all had the lead. Bodhicitta and Mucho Unusual tried to chase but could not get to Keeper Of the Stars as she cruised to 1 1/4-length victory.
Keeper Ofthe Stars wrapped up a big run for Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm’s Midnight Lute as his fourth Grade 1 winner and second stakes winner of the weekend after Smooth Like Strait in Saturday’s War Chant at Churchill Downs.
Maiden Winner of the Week: Altaf, seventh on the grass in his April debut, proved she’s better on dirt when romping in a Churchill maiden Saturday.
The 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly raced among the back of the field for much of the 1-mile race with just one horse beat. As the field entered the far turn, Joel Rosario roused his mount and the game was on for Altaf. She started picking off horses along the outside and swung into the stretch five paths wide to have a track of clear running room ahead.
Altaf took the lead inside the final furlong and though having a few green moments kept building her lead to cross the line with her ears pricked 5 1/2 lengths ahead.
A homebred for Shadwell and trained by Chad Brown, Altaf is a granddaughter of 2002 champion turf female Golden Apples, who produced Grade 3 winner Habaya and Grade 3-placed Hatheer. Altaf is the first winner from two runners out of the winning Smart Strike mare Fawaarek, who also has a yearling Union Rags colt and foaled a Kitten’s Joy colt in April.
Sire Of The Week: Almost 14 years to the day after his Preakness victory, Bernardini made headlines Saturday when three horses out of his daughters won stakes at Churchill.
Bernardini saw his Grade 1 duo of Dunbar Road and Maxfield return to the winner’s circle in their 2020 debuts. Dunbar Road kicked off the trio when she beat a field that would fit in any graded stakes when coming home 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Chocolate Kisses in the Shawnee Stakes.
Two starts later, the consistent Grade 3 winner and last year’s Preakness third-place finisher Owendale showed that he’d be an older horse to watch in the Blame Stakes. Running last early, Owendale swooped around the field to make a late rush and get up by half-length over Preakness runner-up Everfast.
The biggest win of the weekend for Bernardini, however, came from Grade 1 winner Maxfield. Making his first start after an injury forced him out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year, Maxfield showed he’s returned even better than he left off in the Grade 3 Matt Winn. Turned into an educational trip when Maxfield had a few rough moments nearly from the start, he made it clear he was primed to run when making a rally in the stretch to win by a length.
Handicapper’s Report: The Saratoga Special’s handicappers were at it again Saturday, offering selections for the Churchill and Santa Anita cards in the May 23 edition of The 2020 Special.
Tom Law wrested top honors for the week from the other three handicappers with nine winners from the 20 races, including a cold all-stakes pick 5 to close the card at Churchill. Tom picked the sequence of Dunbar Road, Sharing, Owendale, Maxfield and Smooth Like Strait on top for the final five races at Churchill. The winning 50-cent pick 5 returned $414.85. Tom also picked Golden Notion in Churchill’s opener and three winners at Santa Anita – Tiz Wonderfully in the fourth, United in the Whittingham and My Journey in the ninth.
Tom improved his spring record to 46-for-140 (32.9 percent) and inched up on leader John Shapazian. John picked seven winners on the weekend – three at Churchill and four at Santa Anita – and improved to 49-for-140 (35 percent).
Charles Bedard picked six winners to improve to 42-for-140 (30 percent) and Rob Whitlock tabbed four winners to bring his record to 36-for-140 (25.7 percent).
Bits And Pieces: Sunday proved a big day for Ken and Sarah Ramsey with Spanned giving the couple their 500th victory at Churchill Downs – nearly 300 victories ahead of the second-placed Overbrook Farm in the category. … Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Sharing proved she was still in top form Saturday with a 3-year-old debut win in the Tepin Stakes at Churchill. … Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up United showed that his failed trip to Dubai in March didn’t hurt him when just nosing out Rockemperor in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes.