MARQUEE EVENT ONE OF FIVE GRADE I BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN & YOU’RE IN’ QUALIFYING EVENTS ON BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE DAY AT SANTA ANITA
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2014)–Undefeated Shared Belief, last year’s Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old male, looms a heavy favorite Saturday as he heads a field of eight 3-year-olds and up in Santa Anita’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. The marquee event on Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day at Santa Anita, the Awesome Again is the final steppingstone to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, and it’s one of five Grade I Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” prep stakes to be run at The Great Race Place Saturday.
Trained and owned in-part by Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief comes off a sensational 2 ¾ length win under Mike Smith in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Aug. 24–his first try against older horses and his third start this year. A 3-year-old gelding by Candy Ride, Shared Belief went to the sidelines with a foot ailment following a 5 ¾ length romp in the Grade I CashCall Futurity Dec. 14.
While rehabbing under the watchful eye of Hollendorfer’s wife, Janet, at Golden Gate Fields, Shared Belief was forced to miss this year’s Triple Crown, but came off the bench on May 26 to easily annex a six furlong allowance at Golden Gate by 4 ¼ lengths under Russell Baze at odds of 1-5.
Ridden for the first time by Smith two starts back in the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles Los Alamitos Derby July 5, Shared Belief rated kindly and powered to a convincing 4 ¼ length score over prominent 3-year-old Candy Boy. Currently America’s top rated 3-year-old, Shared Belief worked a half mile at Golden Gate on Tuesday in 47.60 and was vanned to Santa Anita early Wednesday.
Owned by a partnership that includes Hollendorfer, Jim and Janet Rome’s Jungle Racing, Jason Litt, Alex Solis II, George Todaro and KMN Racing (Kevin and Kim Nish), LLC, Shared Belief debuted at Golden Gate for trainer Jedd Josephson on Oct. 19, taking a six furlong maiden special weight by seven lengths. He was sold to Hollendorfer and partners following the maiden score by owner/breeders Pam and Martin Wygod.
Shared Belief earned an Awesome Again best last-out Beyer Speed figure of 115 in winning the Pacific Classic, and he now has a perfect six wins and earnings of $1,372,200.
Trainer George Papaprodromou’s Imperative, who gained national acclaim four starts back by defeating Game On Dude at odds of 26-1 in the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles Charles Town Classic on April 19, closed much ground but never threatened Shared Belief when running third, beaten five lengths, in the Pacific Classic. Owned by KM Racing Enterprise, Inc., the 4-year-old Bernardini gelding will hope to be flying late in the Awesome Again. With a win and a second at the distance, he rates a big chance to hit the board on Saturday.
Imperative, claimed for $50,000 nine starts back on Dec. 21, has an overall record of 18-3-4-3, with earnings of $1,314,870–of which $1,259,700 has been amassed this year.
Trainer Bob Baffert will be represented by a pair of runners, the speedy Fed Biz and Sky Kingdom, a long fused son of Empire Maker who has two stakes wins to his credit, including the 2013 Grade III, 1 ½ miles Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita.
Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc. and Fed Biz, LLC, Fed Biz, who was the 3-2 favorite, comes off a second place finish to Goldencents in the Grade II, seven furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes on Aug. 24, which followed a rousing 5 ¼ length score in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles San Diego Handicap July 26. A 5-year-old horse by Giant’s Causeway, he would appear to be better suited at shorter distances, but will try to stretch his considerable speed in the Awesome Again.
Fed Biz has six wins, two seconds and three thirds from 17 starts and has earnings of $710,496.
Owned by Westrock Stables, LLC, Sky Kingdom’s most recent win came three starts back in the 1 1/16 miles American Flag Stakes at Los Alamitos and his best races have come when he’s in a stalking position. His overall mark stands at 16-5-2-2 and he has earnings of $399,872.
Trainer Sean McCarthy’s Majestic Harbor seems to have found his best stride at age six. A son of Rockport Harbor, he won the Grade III, 1 ½ miles Tokyo City Cup four starts back on March 29, and registered the biggest win of his career two starts back, taking the Grade I, 1 ¼ miles Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 28.
He’ll have a tall order however in defeating the favorite on Saturday, as he ran a non-threatening sixth, beaten 9 ½ lengths, by Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic. An earner of $442,250 this year, Majestic Harbor has overall winnings of $656,014. His complete record stands at 24-6-6-4.
Second, beaten 5 ¼ lengths by Fed Biz in the San Diego Handicap, Goldolphin Racing’s Footbridge has good tactical speed and could likely attend the early pace Saturday. Trained by Eoin Harty, Footbridge has yet to win a stakes, but did win a 1 ¼ miles allowance race four starts back on April 10–indicating a mile and one eighth is within his scope. The 4-year-old colt by Street Cry has three wins, four seconds and two thirds from 12 starts, good for earnings of $206,836.
The complete field for the Awesome Again, to be run as the 8th race on an 11-race program, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Fed Biz, Martin Garcia, 119; Sky Kingdom, Victor Espinoza, 119; Bird E House, Joe Talamo, 116; Shared Belief, Mike Smith, 121; Footbridge, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Majestic Harbor, Tyler Baze, 124; Mystery Train, Brice Blanc, 124, and Imperative, Kent Desormeaux, 119.