Hunt Captures Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Race with Head-to-Head Stretch Dual Win in Shoemaker Mile
Hunt (IRE) made his 2018 debut a winning one, capturing the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1T) on Memorial Day at Santa Anita. The Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event for the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T) at Churchill Downs, and was the first North American series qualifier of 2018 following seven Challenge races in South Africa, Australia, Japan, Argentina, and Chile.
Hunt got a perfectly-timed ride from Flavien Prat, and the Phil D’Amato-trained 6-year-old gelding was let go at 9-1 odds.
Joe Talamo and Om set out for the early lead, with 7-5 favorite Heart to Heart tracking second in a field of eight under Julien Leparoux. Prat settled Hunt into a rail-skimming fifth off fractions of :23.22 and :46.66, and they were fourth as three-quarters went in 1:10.20. While Heart to Heart went to battle with Om around the far turn and inched ahead in pursuit of his third consecutive grade 1, Prat shifted Hunt out into the stretch from his stalking position and let him pounce.
“He has been training really well, pretty much like he was at Del Mar last summer right before he won two graded stakes,” Prat said. “I was expecting a good race but you never really know off a layoff. He was fresh and he got the job done.”
Hunt completed the mile turf event in 1:34.07, and returned $21.60, $8.40, and $5.
Hunt was bred in Ireland by Michael O’Callaghan out of the Vettori mare Mansiya. He began his career in his native country in 2014, and made seven starts before he debuted for D’Amato at Del Mar in the summer of 2015. The Shoemaker win improved his record to 9-5-3 from 27 starts, with earnings of $908,764.
Look for Hunt to race again this summer in the American Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita over the 4th of July and/or the Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar in later July where he’ll try to defend his title. The Del Mar Handicap (G2) in August is another title defense before a fall race in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.