Brazilian-bred Bal A Bali gifted owner Calumet Farm with another Grade 1 win on Saturday, scoring by about a length over Farhaan and Heart to Heart in the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita. The 7-year-old son of Put It Back, ridden expertly by Mike Smith, took advantage of the fast pace up front and covered the mile on firm turf in 1:32.22. The win earns the Richard Mandella trainee an all-expenses paid spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile this fall at Del Mar.
“It went according to paper,” Smith said. “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 it was a for sure thing.”
The speedy Heart to Heart took out to the lead, as expected, right from the first jump under Julien Leparoux. He was kept company by fellow frontrunner What A View, coming into the race off a short rest, through early fractions of 22.7 and 45.07 seconds. Those two moved out by a couple lengths from the rest of the field entering the backstretch, with Bolo and Free Rose the closest to the leaders. Bal A Bali was patiently ridden in fifth, nearly six lengths off the pace in the early going.
What A View tried to pressure Heart to Heart a bit mid-way down the backstretch, but Heart to Heart put a whole length on that rival entering the far turn. What A View began to fade as Heart to Heart spurted away to a 2 1/2-length lead, but Free Rose was rolling up the inside and Bal A Bali was doing the same three-wide.
With a sixteenth left to run, Bal A Bali was able to surge forward and overtake Heart to Heart for the lead, winning by a well-timed length on the wire. Farhaan came from dead last at the head of the stretch to nose out Heart to Heart in second, and Free Rose had to settle for fourth.
“It’s very gratifying but you expect him to win every time because he’s a great horse,” Mandella said. “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.”
Bred in Brazil by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Bal a Bali won four Group 1 races in his home country before he was purchased by Fox Hill and Siena Farms. For those owners, the horse amassed one G3 win and four graded stakes placings in two years, but he would require a nine-month vacation away from the track beginning in June of 2016 due to laminitis. Purchased by Brad Kelley’s Calumet, Bal a Bali was given the time to recover and returned to Mandella’s care, who prepared him for his first U.S. Grade 1 win off the layoff in the March Kilroe Mile. The Shoemaker is his second Grade 1 win in North America, and improves his overall record to 15 wins from 25 starts, with earnings of over $ 1.2 million.
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