By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Virtually every race in North America seems to be coming up strong after the coronavirus shutdown and the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita (Tues 12.38am BST, live on Sky), G1 highlight of Monday’s Memorial Day programme, is no exception.
No fewer than six G1 winners figure among 11-runner field for the $300,000 event – and they include last year’s Preakness winner War Of Will and Without Parole, who landed the St James’s Palace Stakes for former trainer John Gosden at Royal Ascot in 2018.
War Of Will (Mark Casse/Flavien Prat) reverts to grass for the first time since his juvenile campaign as he begins his four-year-old debut with trainer Mark Casse keen to make him a G1 winner on both dirt and turf.
“He’s a beautiful horse, has a beautiful pedigree, and we’re looking at his stallion prospects,” explained the newly elected Hall of Famer. Casse also has March To The Arch (Victor Espinoza) in the Shoemaker, which is part of the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Challenge offering a fees-paid berth in the Mile.
War Of Will was last seen when coming ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt in November. “He’s been training super – I’m excited to run him,” added Casse.
Casse is by no means the only trainer sending horses out west to the Shoemaker as Chad Brown saddles both Without Parole (Irad Ortiz) and Hollywood Derby victor Raging Bull (Joel Rosario).
Now five, the Gunthers’ Without Parole was third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the reigning US champion trainer before weakening over a longer trip in the Pegasus World Cup Turf. Lasix is back here as the son of Frankel breaks from the rail.
Of the others, River Boyne won the Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita before the coronavirus suspension, while Next Shares and front-runner have also scored in G1 company, while True Valour was Group-race winner in Ireland for Johnny Murtagh.