Even after 8,783 victories, Bill Shoemaker remains as laconic as ever. Some horses have been known to talk more.
Saturday was no exception, even though it was the day the 57-year-old rider reached a long-sought milestone.
Shoemaker’s 3-length victory aboard Nastique in the $121,800 Silver Belles Handicap at Hollywood Park was his 250th victory in a race worth $100,000 or more and his 995th stakes win.
But what did Shoe have to say?
“It would be an easy game if they all tried as hard as she did,” he said of Nastique.
The bay filly, owned by Chaus Stables and trained by Stephen DiMauro, came from off the pace to take the lead in the stretch and won drawing away. Her time for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track was 1:48.
Miss Brio, ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye finished second, with Laffit Pincay on the favorite, T.V. of Crystal, 1 lengths back in third. Sent off as the 3-1 second choice by the crowd of 18,447, Nastique paid $8.00, $5.40, $3.20; Miss Brio paid $6.00, $2.80, and T.V. of Crystal paid $3.20.
“She’s a nice, hard-running little filly,” Shoemaker said of the winner, on whom he finished second behind Delighter in the Grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita two weeks ago.
“She’s just as good on the dirt as she is on the grass. She runs good on both, which in unusual. You don’t see many horses who can do that.”
Nastique, who carried high weight of 119 pounds, won for the 8th time in 28 starts, and her $76,800 share of the purse increased her earnings to $594,193.
The Chilean-bred Miss Brio, meanwhile, came into Saturday’s Grade II Silver Belles having finished no worse than third in any of her four U.S. starts. It was the first time she’d been asked to go 1 1/8 miles, however.
“She ran good,” Delahoussaye said, “that other horse (Nastique) just blew by us. At the head of the stretch I thought I had a shot at winning until they came by.”
Pincay said Linda Vista Handicap winner T.V. of Crystal, who led until being overtaken by Miss Brio and Nastique in the stretch, ran well but tired in the last sixteenth.
Shoemaker’s first win in a $100,000 race was aboard Great Circle in the Santa Anita Maturity on Feb. 3, 1951, but he had waited a while for his 250th. His last win in a stake race worth that much came four months ago, on July 24, when he rode Lively One to victory in the Swaps Stakes.
“It’s been a while coming,” Shoemaker was prompted.
“Yes, it has,” he replied.
Even now, Shoemaker prefers to let his victories speak for themselves.
Evergreen Farm’s Forlitano, trained by Charlie Whittingham and ridden by Pat Valenzuela, today will try to become the first horse to win the $100,000 Citation Handicap two years in a row.