05/28/2007 11:00PM

The Tin Man joins elite old-timers list


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Tin Man hardly acted his age on Monday with a win in the $398,200 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park.

Now 9, the seven-time stakes winner is believed to be only the third horse to win a Grade 1 at that age, joining John Henry (a four-time Grade 1 winner in 1984) and John's Call (two Grade 1 wins in 2000).

There may be more milestones for The Tin Man later this summer.

On Tuesday, Richard Mandella said he plans to point The Tin Man to a defense of his title in the Grade 1 Arlington Million at Arlington Park on Aug. 11. A win there would put The Tin Man alongside John Henry as the only two-time winner of that prestigious race.

"Anything he does is extra special," Mandella said. "The Arlington Million is something that I'm definitely pointing for."

The Tin Man's victory came in the first of two major turf stakes at Hollywood Park on Monday. An hour later, Citronnade extended her winning streak to four with an impressive front-running win in the $373,800 Gamely BC Stakes for fillies and mares.

The Tin Man is now also on a four-race winning streak.

Monday's Shoemaker was The Tin Man's first start of 2007 and came against a star-packed field of 10 that included the Grade 1 winners Becrux and Kip Deville and recent major stakes winners Chinese Dragon and Get Funky.

The Tin Man's victory unfolded much differently than many participants expected.

Several top contenders were compromised by a slow pace that allowed the horses that held the first three positions at the half-mile pole - Willow O Wisp, Get Funky, and The Tin Man - to make up the winning trifecta.

Willow O Wisp set fractions of 24.18 and 48.12 seconds, leading by a length over Get Funky. The Tin Man was within 1 1/2 lengths of Willow O Wisp on the backstretch, racing three wide. The Tin Man continued his wide rally on the turn, drawing within a length of Willow O Wisp.

The Tin Man took the lead in the final furlong, and was never threatened by the closers, finishing in 1:34.34 and paying $9. He finished three-quarters of a length in front of Get Funky, who was a nose in front of Willow O Wisp.

The third-place finish by Willow O Wisp felt more like a win to trainer Vladimir Cerin.

"I thought he ran super," Cerin said. "I thought the winner was much the best before the race and I won't change my assessment. I think on paper it was the toughest Grade 1 in California this year."

The Shoemaker marked The Tin Man's first stakes win at a mile. His other wins have come at distances ranging from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Jockey Victor Espinoza has been the regular rider on The Tin Man since December 2005. Espinoza knew he had a fortunate trip in the Shoemaker.

"I got very lucky," Espinoza said. "I only have to put him in the right spot. A mile is not his distance. You have to get after him at the end. He will fight and he knows how to win. There aren't that many horses at that age that run as good as him. He's one of a kind."

Owned by Ralph and Aury Todd, The Tin Man has won 13 of 28 starts and $3,365,780. Last year, he won 4 of 5 starts and $1,990,000, with hs lone loss a second to David Junior in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East.

The Tin Man has run exclusively on turf in his career, but Mandella said a start on Hollywood Park's synthetic track for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30 has not been ruled out.

"It's a small possibility," he said. "I don't want to set him back if it didn't work."

There is always the $250,000 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf the same day, a race that The Tin Man won in 2002 and 2006. That could serve as the perfect prep to the Arlington Million.

"He's better now than he's ever been," Mandella said. "He loves what he's doing."

Citronnade earns first Grade 1 win

Citronnade has been unbeatable since trainer Bobby Frankel transferred her to California last fall.

A 4-year-old filly owned by breeder Frank Stronach, Citronnade won the minor Audrey-Skirball Kenis Stakes at Hollywood Park last November and two Grade 2 handicaps during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting earlier this year - the San Gorgonio and Santa Ana.

In her three wins this year, Citronnade has raced on the lead. She has been able to set a slow pace, and kick clear of rivals when challenged. In the Gamely over 1 1/8 miles on turf, she led by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch and was fully extended to hold off the Frankel-trained Price Tag, who is owned by Juddmonte Farms.

Citronnade ($3.60) won by three-quarters of a length in 1:45.73.

"She just kept giving me another gear every time," said winning jockey David Flores.

A winner of 7 of 10 starts and $567,080, Citronnade won her first Grade 1 in the Gamely.

Three Degrees euthanized following race

Citronnade's win was overshadowed by a fatal injury suffered by Three Degrees after the finish.

Three Degrees finished fourth, 6 1/4 lengths behind Citronnade, but was pulled up as she crossed the line. She was diagnosed with a severe suspensory injury and was euthanized on the turf course, according to track stewards.

Three Degrees, 5, won 3 of 16 starts and $490,241. Owned by a large partnership of enthusiastic owners and trained by Paddy Gallagher, Three Degrees had her best season at 3, winning the Grade 2 Honeymoon BC Handicap and finishing second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Last year, she finished second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes.

The Gamely was her second start of the year.

While Citronnade was being walked into the winner's circle, most eyes were still on the turf course where Three Degrees's condition was being assessed. Her death cast a pall on the afternoon.

"She was really special," said co-owner Aron Wellman, 29. "It was tough to see her go through that. She was like a champion to us."