05/24/2009 11:00PM

Thorn Song guts out a tough Shoemaker win

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Thorn Song needed a career-best performance to win the second Grade 1 race of his career in Monday's $320,500 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.

That was trainer Dale Romans's assessment moments after the Grade 1 turf race.

"That's the best race he's ever run," Romans said by phone from his base in Kentucky. "This is what we've been looking for him to do this year."

Ridden by Mike Smith, Thorn Song ($21.20) led throughout the Shoemaker Mile, holding off a furious rally from Hyperbaric to win by a head. Storm Military, a 15-1 outsider, finished a neck behind Hyperbaric, with 6-5 favorite Whatsthescript another neck back in fourth in the field of seven.

The race lost some of its luster with the withdrawal of Ventura, the 5-year-old millionaire mare, on the morning of the race. Trainer Bobby Frankel said he was unhappy with the way she was training.

Thorn Song was largely dismissed in the betting at 9-1. Under instructions from Romans, Smith grabbed an early lead going into the first turn and led by 1 1/2 lengths down the backstretch through early fractions of 23.48 and 46.06 seconds.

"We wanted to outfoot them going into the first turn," Romans said.

Thorn Song faced pressure through the stretch from Hyperbaric but was able to keep his advantage through a gallant stretch run.

Owned by Zayat Stables, Thorn Song became a millionaire with the winner's share of $192,300 from the Shoemaker. A winner of 8 of 27 starts and $1,124,483, Thorn Song, a 6-year-old horse by Unbridled's Song, won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last fall, but lost his next four starts.

Romans was disappointed in Thorn Song's sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland in April. Thorn Song was fifth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 2, a race that may have been too far.

"It was a tough race and a mile and an eighth is a little stretch for him," Romans said.

The long-term goal for Thorn Song is the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita in November. "This puts us back on track for that," Romans said.