Little Mike will try to make it consecutive Grade 1 victories on turf when he makes his California debut in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile June 30 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The eight-horse field includes multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Commons, looking to secure his first Grade 1 victory for trainer John Shirreffs.
The Shoemaker Mile is the more lucrative of two Grade 1 events being offered at Hollywood Park Saturday. The Triple Bend is the sixth of 10 races on the card while the Shoemaker is the ninth with an estimated post time of 5:10 p.m. PDT.
Won a year ago by New York shipper Courageous Cat , the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In'' race. The Breeders' Cup nominated winner will receive automatic entry into the BC Mile, which will be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. Additionally, both pre-entry and entry fees will be waived and the owner will receive a $10,000 travel stipend.
Owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, the wife of breeder Carlo Vaccarezza, and trained by Dale Romans, Little Mike has won five of his last six, including a gate-to-wire upset in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 5 at Churchill Downs. He has won seven of his past nine starts dating back to December 2010.
Joe Bravo will make the trip from the East Coast to ride Little Mike, who breaks from post 3 under equal weights of 124 pounds.
Little Mike was making only his second appearance in a grade I -- he finished sixth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap Feb. 5, 2011 -- in the Turf Classic. The 5-year-old Spanish Steps gelding responded with the 12-1 surprise, winning by 2 ½ lengths.
Little Mike has won 10 off 17 and earned $830,412. He would surpass $1 million in career earnings with a victory. He's won six of eight at the Shoemaker distance and is 5-for-7 since joining the Romans barn some 17 months ago.
The Florida-bred could provide Romans with his second Shoemaker Mile win in four years. The trainer scored with 9-1 outsider Thorn Song for owner Ahmed Zayat in 2009.
Defeated as the odds-on favorite in consecutive starts, Mr. Commons will be aiming for his first victory since the Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita Feb. 4 for owner-breeder St. George Farm Racing. Mike Smith, as usual, will be aboard and they will have to contend with the far outside post.
In his last start, the American Handicap at Hollywood May 26, the Artie Schiller colt closed much ground but finished 1 1/4 lengths behind longshot Wilkinson, who was forced to miss the Shoemaker after coming down with colic more than a week ago.
Nearly three months earlier, Mr. Commons was second behind Willyconker in the Kilroe Mile March 3 at Santa Anita. Worse than second only once in eight starts at the Shoemaker distance, Mr. Commons is 5-for-13 with a bankroll of $653,660.
Jeranimo, an easy winner of the Citation Handicap the last time he tried the local grass, returns from a brief freshening since a runner-up finish to Shoemaker foe Hudson Landing in the San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields April 28.
Owned by B.J. Wright and trained by Mike Pender, Jeranimo has won seven of 27 and would also become a millionaire if he prevails Saturday. The 6-year-old Congaree horse has earned $888,400. Jeranimo will be teamed with Garrett Gomez, with whom he ran second in last summer's Eddie Read Stakes last July.
Corporate Jungle ships west for his grade I debut with a three-race win streak for owners Gary and Mary West and trainer Chad Brown. Rafael Bejarano takes the call.
A 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt, Corporate Jungle began his current roll with an allowance victory Feb. 18 at Gulfstream Park, followed by a 2 ¼-length win in the Appleton Stakes, also at Gulfstream. He most recently scored a half-length decision over Successful Mission as the 7-10 favorite in the Elkwood Stakes May 19 at Monmouth Park.
Liberian Freighter, a multiple graded stakes winner trained by Neil Drysdale, is hoping to improve upon his sixth-place finish in the 2011 Shoemaker for Shawn Dugan, California Horse Racing Board member Charles Winner, and the estate of breeder Ed Nahem. Liberian Freighter ran a close third after setting the pace in the American, his first race since July 2011.
The 7-year-old California-bred son of Bertrando has won 10 of 30 races and earned $754,740. He's won five of 12 over the local grass.
A win by Liberian Freighter would be the fourth in the Shoemaker for Drysdale, tying him for the top spot with James Nazworthy. Drysdale has won previously with Labeeb (1998), Irish Prize (2001), and Aragorn (2006).
Another Hall of Fame trainer, Ron McAnally, will be represented by Suggestive Boy, an Argentine-bred making his first start in this country. Owned by Pozo de Luna, the 4-year-old Easing Along colt won four of six in his native land, including three consecutive Grade 1 events in South America. He most recently captured the $145,300 Jockey Club last Oct. 15 at San Isidro.
The lightly-raced gelding Dubai You X Y Z will be making his initial stakes appearance for owner-breeder M T Racing Stable and trainer Mark Tsagalakis. The 5-year-old E Dubai gelding returned from a layoff of more than a year to win a $62,350 allowance April 27 over the Hollywood grass.
Claimed for $50,000 Feb. 25 at Golden Gate by trainer Blaine Wright for Chappell Alpine Farms, Hudson Landing has subsequently won three of four, including the San Francisco Mile.