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Obviously (above, winning the Del Mar Mile in August 2012) figures to be a formidable contender in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes on Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sprortswire)

By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase

The 79th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes drew only five entrants but with three of the runners Grade 1 stakes winners in their careers it should still yield a good deal of excitement. Leading the field is Obviously, who made his second start of 2013 a winning one last month in the Grade 2 American Handicap and who now is 4-for-5 in his career at a mile on turf, which are the conditions of the Shoemaker. Lucayan chased Obviously home in second in the American Handicap last month but that was his North American debut and first race following more than seven months away from the races, so last year’s winner of the important Group 1 French Two Thousand Guineas has every right to run better. Jeranimo won the Shoemaker Mile last year. Although sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile (in which Obviously finished third), Jeranimo won the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes in January and has proven capable at this level. The last two runners in the field also are stakes winners but not at the Grade 1 level. Wilkinson won the 2012 American Handicap and, following a 4-race losing streak, returned to the winner’s circle last month. Za Approval enters the Shoemaker Mile off two straight wins in Grade 3 stakes – the Appleton and Red Bank Stakes.

Obviously earned back-to-back career-best 119 Equibase Speed Figures last fall, first winning the Arroyo Seco Mile then when third behind superstars Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Rested 5 1/2 months, he returned in a sprint and missed by a half-length before improving markedly back at his best distance to win the one-mile American Handicap at the end of May with a 116 Equibase Speed Figure. With more improving to do in his third start of the year and also likely to be alone on the lead from the start - no other horse will want to compromise its chances by doing battle in the early stages - Obviously should win his second consecutive graded stakes in the Shoemaker.

Lucayan proved to be a quality 3-year-old last year in France when winning the French Two Thousand Guineas by a neck in a field of 12. However, his three subsequent races in Europe resulted in ninth-, fifth- and eighth-place finishes. Rested from October to the end of last month, Lucayan was brought to this country and debuted in the American Handicap. Making his first start of the year and off a layoff, he gave away too much to Obviously, who was making his second start back from a lengthy layoff. Still, after breaking slowly and dropping back to last of six, Lucayan rallied nicely for second to earn a 111 Equibase Speed Figure. With logical improvement in his second start of the year, Lucayan has a shot to run down the early leader and post the upset in this race.

Jeranimo is an in and outer, evidenced by the fact he has two wins in nine races in 2012 and 2013, with most of his other efforts disappointing. In 2012, Jeranimo finished second in the San Francisco Mile then won the Shoemaker with a 110 Equibase Speed Figure. Following that win, Jeranimo finished third, sixth and fourth. Rested a couple of months before returning in January of this year, Jeranimo won the San Gabriel Stakes easily with a 109 figure. Given nearly four months off after that, he shipped to Kentucky to compete in the Turf Classic Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard on a very soggy turf course and ran last of seven. Back in California and with three victories in five tries on the Hollywood Park turf, Jeranimo can’t be counted out as a contender in this year’s Shoemaker Mile.



Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Za Approval earned a career-best 115 Equibase Speed Figure on March 30 when victorious in the Appleton Stakes before winning the Red Bank stakes with a 108 figure. He’s a good turf horse to be sure but doesn’t appear to be up to this Grade 1 level of competition. Wilkinson won the 2012 American Handicap (the race Obviously won recently) but has only managed a non-stakes win since with a 103 speed figure. He might be a cut below the best in this situation.

My Selections:





$300,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes

Saturday, Betfair Hollywood Park, Race 3, 5:01 p.m. ET

One mile, turf, 3-year-olds and older






Jeranimo (FL)

Rafael Bejarano

Mike Pender


Za Approval (KY)

Victor Espinoza

Christophe Clement


Wilkinson (KY)

Martin Pedroza

Jeff Mullins


Lucayan (FR)

Julien Leparoux

Neil Drysdale


Obviously (IRE)

Joe Talamo

Mike Mitchell

All carry 124 pounds.

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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