ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2014)–Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Shared Belief, who tasted defeat for the first time in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, heads a strong field of ten 3-year-olds (four of them trained by Bob Baffert) at seven furlongs in Friday’s Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes which headlines a nine-race card on Santa Anita’s Winter Meet opening day.

Co-owned by radio and television star Jim Rome and his wife Janet, Shared Belief, last year’s Eclipse Award Champion 2-year-old male, finished fourth after being victimized by a rough start in the Classic. With three Grade I wins overall and two this year, he will try to re-insert himself into Eclipse Award consideration for top 3-year-old as well as Horse of the Year honors.

Again based at Golden Gate Fields since the Breeders’ Cup, Shared Belief has worked five times in preparation for the Malibu, his most recent drill a six furlong move in 1:15 flat on Dec. 16, which was the fastest of seven at the distance. Undefeated in seven starts prior to the Classic, his lone start at seven furlongs resulted in a rousing 7 ¾ length win in the Grade III Hollywood Preview Stakes on Nov. 10, 2013.

Owned by the Rome’s Jungle Racing, LLC, KMN Racing LLC and Hollendorfer, Shared Belief will break from post eight with regular pilot Mike Smith. With seven wins from eight starts, Shared Belief has amassed earnings of $1,852,200.

Baffert, who has won two out of the last three Malibu runnings, including last year’s with Shakin It Up, holds a potent four-card hand consisting of Chitu, Midnight Hawk, Indianapolis and Pimpernel.

It would appear that Chitu would be Baffert’s “ace” as the chestnut colt by Henny Hughes comes off an authoritative 2 ½ length win in the seven furlong Damascus Stakes on Oct. 31 and he was an easy winner of the Grade III Sunland Derby three starts back and he’ll again get the services of top Eastern jock Joel Rosario, who was aboard for the Damascus score. With six rapid works for his return, Chitu would appear primed for a big effort.

Owned by the Tanma Corporation, Chitu drew post position two. He has four wins and a second from six starts, with earnings of $561,800.

The remainder of the Malibu field looks like this:

Midnight Hawk–A winner of the Grade III, one mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in his second start on Jan. 11, 2014, this grey colt by Midnight Lute was subsequently stakes placed in four consecutive Kentucky Derby preps; the Grade II Robert B. Lewis and Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, the Grade III Sunland Derby and the Grade III Illinois Derby. Well beaten by Chitu in the Damascus Stakes following a slow start, he was a disappointing third as the 6-5 favorite in a second condition allowance going six furlongs at Del Mar on Nov. 30.

Indianapolis–Considered by many to be a serious Derby prospect following his 4 ¼ length win in the six furlong San Pedro Stakes on Jan. 20, this bay colt by Medaglia d’Oro went to the sidelines and didn’t run again until winning a 6 ½ furlong allowance at Santa Anita on Sept. 26. Following that, he ran a respectable 10th, only beaten 5 ½ lengths, in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 1. Like several others, he appears primed for a big effort and will be ridden for the first time by Gary Stevens.

Pimpernel–Owned by Juddmonte Farms, he appears to be the least preferred of the Baffert four-pack, although he does exit a seven furlong allowance win here on Oct. 29, in which he defeated well fancied stablemate Hoppertunity by a half length. A chestnut colt by Elusive Quality, he’ll be trying graded stakes company in his ninth career start.

Rprettyboyfloyd–Although he has but one win from eight starts, this bay ridgling by Bluegrass Cat has kept good company and rates an upset chance with Tyler Baze up. Trained by Denise Breuer, he was second to eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern in his debut going seven furlongs on Jan. 4, 2014.

Tamarando–A winner of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity in his lone try at seven furlongs, this bay colt by Bertrando is the “other” Hollendorfer and one of two California-breds in the lineup. Winless in his last four starts, Tamarando, who is owned by his breeders, Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, notched his last victory in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 15. He’ll be ridden for the first time in his 15th career start by Julien Leparoux and he’ll hope to be on the move late.

Conquest Two Step–Trainer Mark Casse is hoping Conquest Two Step’s good recent turf form transfers to the main track on opening day. This Florida-bred colt by Two Step Salsa comes off a head victory in a 6 ½ furlong allowance down the hillside turf and has run well for Joe Talamo in his last four starts.

Diamond Bachelor – A $570,000 2-year-old in training purchase, this War Front colt has not yet run to expectations. Trained by Patrick Biancone, he took the one mile Oak Tree Juvenile Turf in his second start at Del Mar and has been winless in six stakes engagements en route to an overall mark of 12-2-3-0. Idle since running an even eighth behind Pimpernel on Oct. 29, he’ll be handled for the first time by talented French-based Flavien Prat.

Frensham – This California-bred colt by Square Eddie comes off a third place finish in a five furlong turf allowance at Del Mar on Nov. 9 and will carry the hopes of owner/breeder J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill. He’ll be making his 12th start of the year and 13th overall, as he seeks his third career win.

To be run as the eighth race on a nine-race card and with all horses assigned 118 pounds, here is the Malibu field in post position order with jockeys: Conquest Two Step, Joe Talamo; Chitu, Joel Rosario; Indianapolis, Gary Stevens; Rprettyboyfloyd, Tyler Baze; Pimpernel, Martin Garcia; Midnight Hawk, Victor Espinoza; Tamarando, Julien Leparoux; Shared Belief, Mike Smith; Diamond Bachelor, Flavien Prat, and Frensham, Mario Gutierrez.

                Special early first post time on opening day is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.