Santa Anita: How to bet the 2021 Shoemaker Mile

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 30th, 2021

The first of three Grade 1 races taking place on Memorial Day at Santa Anita is the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1), a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Half a dozen horses are expected to start in the one-mile turf test, with morning line favorites #2 Smooth Like Strait (4-5) and #6 Whisper Not (5-2) looking formidable at short prices.

Logical favorites deserve respect

Smooth Like Strait needs no introduction. The Michael McCarthy-trained four-year-old has won five stakes (four of them graded) during his accomplished career. He’s been holding his own against Grade 1 company this year, finishing second by a neck in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita before coming home third by the same margin in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Smooth Like Strait ran a huge race in the Turf Classic. Stretching out over 1 1/8 miles, he led for most of the journey and was only beaten a neck at the finish line by proven Grade 1 winners Colonel Liam and Domestic Spending. A repeat of this effort would make Smooth Like Strait tough to beat in the Shoemaker Mile.

Whisper Not also warrants attention. The son of Poet’s Voice has a ton of tactical speed, and two starts back, he won a one-mile allowance race at Santa Anita after leading by as many as 10 lengths down the backstretch. But Whisper Not has also shown some tractability, winning the San Francisco Mile (G3) with a rally from fourth place.

What about the European newcomer?

No one will be surprised if Smooth Like Strait and Whisper Not run one-two, but since they’re both speedy pace players, there’s a chance their running styles will clash and set the stage for #3 Crossfirehurricane (12-1) to factor at a big price.

A son of renowned turf stallion Kitten’s Joy, Crossfirehurricane showed early promise in Ireland, winning his first four starts in fine fashion. A triumph in the 1 1/4-mile Gallinule (G3) launched Crossfirehurricane into the Irish classics picture, but he failed to see out 1 1/2 miles in the Irish Derby (G1), coming home 10th. Crossfirehurricane subsequently disappointed again in the 1 5/16-mile Diamond (G3) over the synthetic track at Dundalk, finishing 13th.

How to bet the Shoemaker Mile

Crossfirehurricane hasn’t run since September, but he’s put together a solid string of workouts in preparation for his first start under Michael McCarthy’s care. It’s unclear whether Crossfirehurricane can hold his own against Smooth Like Strait and Whisper Not, but if a fast pace unfolds, I can envision a scenario where Crossfirehurricane comes running late to crash the exacta at a big price.

Let’s play the race accordingly, betting Crossfirehurricane to win and keying him in the exacta with the two favorites.

$10 to win on #3 Crossfirehurricane
$3 Exacta: 3 with 2,6 ($6)
$7 Exacta: 2,6 with 3 ($14)
Total: $30

Good luck!