Smooth Like Strait 'On Top of His Game,' Seeking Shoemaker Repeat

Smooth Like Strait | Benoit

Cannon Thoroughbreds' Smooth Like Strait (Midnight Lute) will attempt to defend his title in the GI Shoemaker Mile–a Win and You're In event for the GI Breeders' Cup Mile–when he faces five rivals in the Santa Anita contest Monday. The 5-year-old, the 4-5 morning-line favorite, was runner-up in four graded events following last year's Shoemaker, setting the pace before getting past late by Space Blues in the Nov. 6 GI Breeders' Cup Mile. Making his 2022 debut, he set the pace before ending up third in a blanket finish in the Apr. 15 GI Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland last time out.

“It seems like he's on top of his game,” said trainer Michael McCarthy.

Phil D'Amato will saddle three of the six runners in the Shoemaker Mile, led by Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm's Count Again (Awesome Again). The 7-year-old went to the sidelines after earning top-level success in the GI Frank E. Kilroe Mile last March and was closing into a slow pace when a close-up sixth while making his return in the Marker's Mark Mile. He could get a pace assist from stablemate Dance Some Mo (Uncle Mo) Monday.

Rockingham Ranch's Masteroffoxhounds (War Front), winner of last year's GII San Marcos S. over the Santa Anita turf course, turns back to a mile off a runner-up effort in the Apr. 30 GII Charles Whittingham S. for trainer Richard Baltas. The 5-year-old will be making his first start for D'Amato Monday.

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