February 9, 2023

Catapult among nine in wide-open Shoemaker Mile

Ohio and jockey Ruben Fuentes (right) outleg Catapult under Drayden Van Dyke (left) to win the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) on March 30, 2019 at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

Catapult fell just short of Breeders’ Cup success last fall in the Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs, missing by a half-length to European invader Expert Eye. On Memorial Day, the six-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy can at least guarantee himself a second chance at the prize with a victory in the $500,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, host site for this year’s Mile in November.

The Shoemaker Mile, one of three Grade 1 events on Monday’s card, is the first “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race of the season held in North America.

Catapult, who won the Eddie Read (G2) and Del Mar Mile (G2) last summer, has raced just twice since the Breeders’ Cup. Fourth in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G2) after making a premature move to the lead, the John Sadler lost an agonizingly close photo to Ohio in the March 30 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1).

The Kilroe was the first graded stakes win for the Brazilian-bred eight-year-old Ohio, who could have been claimed for $28,000 last August. He’s been in career-best form this term, winning the Cotton Fitzsimmons H. at Turf Paradise and finishing a half-length second in the Thunder Road (G3) prior to the Kilroe.

Sharp Samurai, five-for-six over the Santa Anita turf, made just four starts last season. Second by a neck to Catapult in the Eddie Read and elevated to second in the Del Mar Mile, he finished off the season with a nose decision in the City of Hope (G2).

The lone East Coast-based invader in the Shoemaker is Delta Prince, who garnered top-level honors for the first time in last month’s Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland. Third in the Pegasus World Cup Turf before that, he captured the King Edward (G2) and was second by a neck in the Fourstardave H. (G1) last season.

Bowies Hero‘s form tailed off last season after registering an 8-1 upset in the Kilroe, and looks to improve on his fifth-place finish in this a year ago. He was most recently sixth in the San Francisco Mile (G3) in his first start in eight months. Second in that event was multiple graded winner River Boyne, previously fourth in the Kilroe.

Former two-time Arcadia (G2) winner Bolo returned from a 23-month layoff on April 28, weakening to fifth in a nine-furlong allowance. Desert Stone finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Ohio and Catapult in the Kilroe, while Le Ken has settled for minor aards facing this kind since joining the Ron McAnally barn last fall.