Updated on 09/15/2011 12:18PM

Takes inside route to beat stablemate


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A moment of courage from Irish Prize proved to be the difference in Monday's $475,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park.

Entering the stretch, jockey Gary Stevens sent Irish Prize between the tiring pacesetters Hollycombe and All the Gears. Irish Prize went through the gap smoothly, took the lead, and held off the rally of his entrymate Touch of the Blues to win the turf race by a neck in 1:33.68. The Grade 1 Shoemaker was the most prestigious victory in Irish Prize's 19-race career, which includes seven wins and earnings of $672,743.

"It was a narrow opening," Stevens said. "I put his head through it and he went for it. He was in front two strides later."

The top two finishers are trained by Neil Drysdale and owned by Sheikh Maktoum al-Maktoum. Brahms, the 6-5 favorite, closed from the seventh to finish third, a half-length behind Irish Prize.

Drysdale was relieved that Irish Prize found his way through traffic.

"I knew Gary had to go inside because he didn't have any options," Drysdale said. "[Irish Prize] did have to check, but he went through it with no hesitation."

Irish Prize ($7.40) was in the middle of the nine-horse field for the first half-mile, about 10 lengths off the leaders. Hollycombe, Lake William, and All the Gears contributed to a fast pace of 23.30 and 45.61 seconds.

"They were going a cracking pace and Irish Prize doesn't usually get the pace in front of him," Drysdale said.

Touch of the Blues, making his second start in the United States, rallied five wide around the final turn and sustained the rally to the finish.

"I thought I was home free and then I saw Gary get through," said Mike Smith, who rode Touch of the Blues. "Going wide was my only decision."

o Early Flyer set a stakes record of 1:20.42 for seven furlongs in Monday's $108,600 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes. The time also was the fastest at the distance of the five-week meeting.

Ridden by Chris McCarron, Early Flyer caught pacesetter Squirtle Squirt in the final furlong and beat him by three-quarters of a length. Top Hit, a 22-1 longshot, closed from sixth to finish third in the field of seven 3-year-olds. The favorite, Early Flyer returned $4.40

Squirtle Squirt and Skip to the Stone set a torrid pace of 21.77 seconds, 43.82, and 1:07.98. Squirtle Squirt shook off Skip to the Stone in early stretch, but could not hold off Early Flyer. Skip to the Stone faded to finish fourth.

Trained by Ron McAnally for Verne Winchell, Early Flyer has won 3 of 7 starts and $272,860.