Eight of his nine career wins have come over the turf at Santa Anita. That, and a two-race win streak, arguably makes River Boyne the horse to beat in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Memorial Day.
Winner earlier this season of the Thunder Road (G3) and Frank Kilroe Mile (G1), the latter over the top mare Got Stormy, River Boyne will break from post 11 in the “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland in November.
War of Will, winner of the Preakness (G1) last season, returns to the grass for the first time since his juvenile season. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Mark Casse has said a Grade 1 win on the turf is a season goal for the son of War Front.
Casse has also shipped in the capable March to the Arch, who captured the Wise Dan (G2) last summer and has won or placed in all three starts this term.
“March to the Arch has been unlucky in his last couple starts,” said Casse, referring to third-place efforts in the Tampa Bay (G3) and Appleton (G3). “He could easily have won two of those. He’s a pretty good horse in his own right. He’s going to run well.”
Grade 1 veteran Next Shares was only a neck behind River Boyne in the Kilroe and can factor late with the right set-up. In addition to War of Will, likely pace factors include graded veterans Voodoo Song, Blitzkrieg, and Neptune’s Storm.
Chad Brown has sent two in for the Shoemaker. Without Parole was third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile over this course last November, though below par in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) going longer when last seen. Raging Bull, the 2018 Hollywood Derby (G1) winner, placed three times in Grade 1 company last summer.
Ollie’s Candy, nipped late in the Apple Blossom H. (G1) last month on the main track, looks for her first turf win in the $300,000 Gamely (G1), which concludes the 11-race holiday card.
Although more accomplished on dirt, Ollie’s Candy has been runner-up three times in four grass attempts, including narrow losses in a pair of graded stakes at Del Mar in 2018.
The 9 furlongs of the Gamely figures to be a more suitable distance for Lady Prancealot, winner last season of the American Oaks (G1), Valley View (G3), and Honeymoon (G3). She ran fourth in the one-mile Buena Vista (G2) last time, though not far behind upset winner Keeper Ofthe Stars and third-place finisher More Unusual.
Invading from the East Coast is Etoile, who debuts for Chad Brown after a Group 3-winning campaign in France last season. Brown has also entered Beautiful Lover, runner-up to Canadian Horse of the Year Starship Jubilee in the Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs in early March.
Another likely player is 2019 Wilshire (G3) vixen Simply Breathless, runner-up in the Goldikova (G2) two back.
Jolie Olimpica didn’t see out the mile when second in the Buena Vista in February, but figures to be hot favorite cutting back to 5 1/2 furlongs in the $200,000 Monrovia (G3) on turf.
Undefeated in three starts in her native Brazil, including a Group 1,, the daughter of Drosselmeyer impressed first out in the U.S. taking the Las Cienegas (G3) over this course and trip in January.
“With all the rest she’s had, for the Monrovia I went back to how I trained her when she first came here,” trainer Richard Mandella said.
The native Australian Oleksandra was a dual stakes winner in the east last season, most recently accounting for the Franklin County (G3) at Keeneland in October. Stealthediamonds scored over Grade 3 heroine Just Grazed Me in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint two back.