Calumet Farm’s Bal a Bali charged down the stretch at Santa Anita Park on Saturday to collar pacesetting favorite Heart to Heart and just hold Farhaan in the $400,690 Shoemaker Mile (G1) under jockey Mike Smith.
Bal a Bali saved ground on the inside as 5-2 favorite Heart to Heart set the pace through splits of :22.67, :45.07, 1:08.21 and 1:20.16 while chased by What a View and Bolo. That latter pair faded about the same time as Bal a Bali began his move, but Free Rose was the first to take a shot at Heart to Heart.
Bal a Bali angled out and rallied four wide in the stretch, catching Heart to Heart in the shadow of the wire and withstanding the flying Farhaan to stop the clock in 1:32.22 over the firm turf. It was three parts of a length back to Farhaan, who nipped Heart to Heart for second by a nose. Free Rose came next and was followed under the wire by Gangster, Bolo and What a View.
Bal a Bali is now 25-15-1-4 in his career and has banked $1,257,923 lifetime. The dark bay seven-year-old was honored as both Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old colt in 2013-14 in his native Brazil, but didn’t rest on his laurels.
Instead, the son of Put It Back shipped to the United States and immediately captured the American Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita in May 2015. He recorded close fifths in that year’s Shoemaker Mile and Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) before visiting the winner’s circle again, this time against allowance/optional claiming rivals.
The Richard Mandella trainee proceeded to place in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2), San Gabriel Stakes (G2), Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and San Francisco Mile (G3) from November 2015 through April 2016. He ran fourth in the Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) last May but closed out his six-year-old season with a subpar eighth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) just a month later on the main track.
Bal a Bali reappeared March 11 at Santa Anita Park and added the Kilroe Mile to his resume by a head. He entered Saturday’s Shoemaker Mile off a fifth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 6.
Bred in Brazil by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Bal a Bali is out of the Group 3-winning Clackson mare In My Side. His fourth dam is multiple Grade 2 heroine Table Hands, and this female line has also produced Brocco, winner of the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and 1994 Santa Anita Derby (G1) while fourth in the 1994 Kentucky Derby (G1). Also of note in this female family is Grade 1 vixen Gozzip Girl.
SHOEMAKER MILE QUOTES
Richard Mandella, trainer Bal a Bali, winner
“He’s had some problems in his life and he’s had some nice owners, some of the best in the business, that have been willing to let me do what’s right by him. The fruits of that are what you saw.
“(Jockey) Mike (Smith) rode him perfectly and he’s actually worked him quite a few times so he’s familiar with him.
“I like winning. He’s always had a habit of hanging out; more last year than this year. But he would come down that hill and see the gap to go home and it wasn’t a good thing for him last year. The mile kind of seems like his race and I’m going to stick to it.
“I thought he was in a good place. There did look like there was a lot of speed in here and it did become real at the half-mile pole but he was nice and relaxed. Seeing that I thought he should have the good finish that he has.
“Mike did the right thing and kept him out of trouble. He had a nice, quiet trip.
“The Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) will be the long term goal.
“It’s very gratifying but you expect him to win every time because he’s a great horse. He’s had a few things that didn’t materialize but with the setbacks that he’s had…the industry needs to give him the credit due that he overcame it and came back to be such a good horse.
“In saying that he’s had two sets of owners. The original owners, Rick Porter and Mr. Mangonerro, who only wanted to do the best for him. Then, when Calumet picked up the breeding rights and decided to race him, they’ve only given me the encouragement to do the same thing. If all horses in the world had those kinds of owners they’d be better off.”
Mike Smith, jockey Bal a Bali, winner
“It went according to paper. The horses that I thought would be in front of me were. Although, I did think I would get an inside trip but was given an outside trip. I thought it was a good spot to be and was a for sure thing.
“I might have tipped out a little early but I wanted to make the four come around me instead of getting through before I got there. It worked out.
“Mr. (Richard) Mandella had this horse double ready today. He’s been training this way and he ran that way today. I’m glad I finally got to ride him. I’ve worked him for everybody else so it’s nice to finally get him to myself.
“He’s got a natural high cruising speed.”
Flavien Prat, jockey Farhaan, second
“We had a good trip. We sat behind the winner and when he made his move down the lane, we followed him. He ran hard, no excuses.”
Julien Leparoux, jockey Heart to Heart, third
“He broke sharp and made the lead pretty easy. We were getting pressure, but he was comfortable. Turning for home, I thought we could win it. He tried very hard.”