06/03/2017 8:21PM

Bal a Bali punches BC Mile ticket with Shoemaker triumph

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Benoit & Associates
Bal a Bali paid $8.20 in winning the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - At the age of 7, Bal a Bali is bound for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar in November for the first time.

Bal a Bali won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on turf for his second Grade 1 win of the year Saturday at Santa Anita. The $400,690 Shoemaker Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Mile on Nov. 4 to the winner.

Bal a Bali ($8.20) won the Shoemaker by three-quarters of a length over 5-2 Farhaan and was timed in a quick 1:32.22. The course record of 1:31.69 was set by Vyjack last October.

A perfect trip led to Bal a Bali’s victory.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Bal a Bali was fifth for the first half-mile, stalking 5-2 favorite Heart to Heart through solid fractions of 22.67 seconds for an opening quarter-mile and 45.07 for a half-mile. Smith urged Bal a Bali into contention with a wide rally in the stretch and took the lead in the final furlong.

“It looked like he was in a good place,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “He was nice and relaxed.”

Farhaan, winner of the Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes in April, finished a nose in front of Heart to Heart, who was followed by Free Rose, Gangster, Bolo, and What a View.

Bal a Bali has won 15 of 25 starts and has earned $1,257,923. A Brazilian-bred horse by Put It Back, Bal a Bali won the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf here in March in his first start in more than eight months, but was fifth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Following the Woodford Reserve, Bal a Bali was briefly in training at San Luis Rey Downs training center before rejoining Mandella’s stable in late May.

Bal a Bali, who won the Rio Triple Crown in Brazil in 2014, has missed the Breeders’ Cup because of illness and setbacks in recent years. He was diagnosed with laminitis shortly after arriving in the United States in 2014. In 2015, he did not have the form needed to run a Breeders’ Cup race. Last fall, Bal a Bali was not in training when the Breeders’ Cup was held.

Bal a Bali is owned by Calumet Farm, who acquired breeding rights last fall and opted to keep him in training this year.

Mandella said Bal a Bali will have a campaign in the second half of the year geared toward the BC Mile.

“A mile seems a good race,” Mandella said. “You expect him to win every time because he’s a good horse.”