After going so long without a Grade 1 win, the veteran grass star Heart to Heart will look to make it three in a row at the top level in the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Memorial Day.
The seven-year-old, who finished a narrowly beaten third as the favorite in the Shoemaker Mile last summer, hung on to win the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) by a neck two starts back, beating among others Hi Happy. He followed up with a more comfortable 1 3/4-length decision in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland last month.
This will mark Heart to Heart’s fourth trip to Santa Anita, but the Brian Lynch trainee has not had much luck previously. His first two tries on the local sod were both fourth-place efforts, in the 2014 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) and in the 2016 Shoemaker Mile.
Bowies Hero enters in peak form with victories in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and Mathis Brothers Mile in two of his last three starts, with only a half-length setback to Om in the Thunder Road (G3) separating the two outings. Both Om and Next Shares, the runner-up in the Kilroe, finished unplaced behind Heart to Heart in the Maker’s 46 Mile, but could be more formidable returning to their home base.
Other leading contenders are the multiple graded winners Hunt and Blackjackcat. Hunt won the Eddie Read (G2), Del Mar H. (G2), and Seabiscuit H. (G2) last season, but has not started since the latter race in late November.
Blackjackcat captured the Del Mar Mile (G2) last summer and was a solid third to World Approval in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Del Mar, but has been ineffective two starts this term.
The nightcap on the holiday card at Santa Anita is the $200,000 Monrovia (G2) for fillies and mares at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
Leading contenders include Belvoir Bay, who beat the boys in the San Simeon (G3) last time, and Coniah, who captured the course-and-distance Las Cienegas (G3) in January and was runner-up in the San Simeon.
Compelled, a turf sprint stakes winner at Fair Grounds over the winter, also figures along with Blame It On Alphie and Ancient Secret.