- SMITH LIKES THE LOOK OF SHARED BELIEF
- CHROME, HOPPERTUNITY POLAR OPPOSITES
- CALIFORNIA CHROME SLIGHT FAVORITE
- LEWIS LURES SIX SOPHS ON DERBY TRAIL
- BETTER ‘DYNAMICS’ IN SAN MARCOS STAKES?
SHARED BELIEF ALL HEART ON THE RACE TRACK
Shared Belief is not much to look at. He’s no War Admiral or Zenyatta. But it’s not what’s on the hoof that counts. It’s what’s in the heart.
But for a rough start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that might have cost him victory and assuredly besmirched his unbeaten record, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Shared Belief could have been Horse of the Year. How could you argue with perfection?
As it is, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was quick to put the race behind him and move on, as did Shared Belief, who showed his valor and versatility by winning the seven furlong Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 in his first start since the Classic loss on Nov. 1.
“Shared Belief is as classy as classy comes,” says Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden the 4-year-old gelded son of Candy Ride in his last five starts, including a neck victory in the Grade I Malibu.
Smith will be aboard Shared Belief again Saturday when he tackles Horse of the Year California Chrome and seven others in the $500,000 San Antonio Invitational for older horses at 1 1/8 miles.
“Shared Belief is not a big horse that you’re going to sit back on and go like Zenyatta, who was imposing just to look at,” Smith said. “He’s not really that, but he’s extremely athletic and really, really well-balanced. He’s doing well. He looks good.
“They say he’s been working good. As long as Russell (Baze, who works him at Golden Gate) says he’s doing good, then I’m all right. I was glad to see that colt (Conquest Two Step) come back and win (the Palos Verdes last Saturday), if I couldn’t win it (on favored Distinctiv Passion, who finished fourth).
“Conquest Two Step is the one who was 70-1 when I beat him with Shared Belief in the Malibu, and everyone said, ‘Who did Shared Belief beat?’ Well, you saw who he beat. The horse came back and demolished them in the Palos Verdes.”
Shared Belief jogged and stood in the gate Thursday morning, while California Chrome galloped and stood in the gate. “He’s good,” said Hollendorfer of Shared Belief, adding he was “very happy” drawing post position five.
The field for the San Antonio, race eight of nine: Hoppertunity, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Tonito M., Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; You Know I Know, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1; Imperative, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Shared Belief, Mike Smith, 7-5; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 30-1; Bronzo, Gary Stevens, 20-1; California Chrome, Victor Espinoza, 6-5; and Alfa Bird, Tyler Baze, 30-1.
In other San Antonio news:
- For the third straight race, Hoppertunity will be breaking from the inside in the
San Antonio, having drawn post position No. 1, the same hole he had in winning the Grade I Clark Handicap Nov. 28. He captured the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes Jan. 10 breaking from post position two.
“I live in the one hole,” Bob Baffert said. “I don’t know. I’m going to have to start going to the draw. I’ve always said, ‘There are two things you need to get rid of in racing: the one hole and the last race.’ I’d rather have been on the outside and clear.”
On a serious note, the Hall of Fame trainer is looking forward to the San Antonio.
“The horse is doing well. It’s going to be an exciting race,” said Baffert, who has won the San Antonio four times, with Congaree (2003); Richard’s Kid (2010); and Game On Dude (2012 and 2013). “It’s going to be a great racing day.”
- Trainer Sean McCarthy on running 7-year-old Majestic Harbor for only the
second time on turf in 28 career starts in Saturday’s San Marcos Stakes, rather than the San Antonio: “The distance of ground (in the San Marcos, 1 ¼ miles) is more suitable for him and he’ll be running against a different type of horse.
“As he’s gotten older, hopefully the grass might be more conducive.”
- And this nugget from HRTV’s Rich McManus: “In the Eclipse era, not since Snow
Chief finished third and Tasso finished fifth in the 1987 Californian have the 2-year-old champion and the 3-year-old champion, from the same crop of race horses, faced off against each other at age four.”
The San Antonio will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
SAN ANTONIO MORNING LINE FAVORITISM A CHALLENGE
In a showdown between two equine titans, California Chrome has been installed as the 6-5 morning line favorite by Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White for Saturday’s Grade II San Antonio Invitational, with Shared Belief a close second choice at 7-5.
“I can’t recall ever having a more difficult time deciding who to make the favorite between two horses,” said White, who also provides pre-race television commentary for Santa Anita’s simulcast network. “Not even in all of the Breeders’ Cup races that I’ve made the morning line have I had a harder decision between two horses in terms of favoritism.”
White crafted the official Breeders’ Cup morning lines at Santa Anita in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
“One of the reasons I ultimately decided to go with California Chrome is he is the reigning Horse of the Year,” White explained. “And then there is his immense popularity. Being such a big fan favorite is something that could come into play in the wagering. Also, California Chrome did beat Shared Belief the only time the two have met.”
California Chrome finished third in the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita last Nov. 1. Shared Belief ran fourth.
“But while it’s true that Shared Belief finished 3 ½ lengths behind California Chrome in the Classic, most people, of course, feel that is a race you can throw out for Shared Belief because of all the trouble he had,” White said. “Shared Belief has lost just one time in his entire life. And if not for all of the trouble he had in the Classic, it’s entirely possible he would be nine for nine going into the San Antonio.
“Something else to keep in mind is Shared Belief was the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, not California Chrome. Shared Belief was 5-2. California Chrome was 4-1. I certainly would not be surprised if it turns out that Shared Belief also ends up being the favorite in the San Antonio.”
While most of the attention is being focused on California Chrome and Shared Belief, Hoppertunity goes into the Santa Antonio off victories in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita. White has pegged Hoppertunity at 4-1 for the San Antonio.
“Ignore Hoppertunity at your own peril,” White cautioned.
Meanwhile, White joins thousands of others in looking forward to seeing Saturday’s San Antonio.
“This really is fantastic for the sport,” White said. “How great it is for the 2-year-old male champion of 2013 and the 3-year-old male champion of 2014 to meet like this? Will there be a tougher Grade II race in the entire country this year? I sure doubt it.”
FIRING LINE TRIES DORTMUND AGAIN IN LEWIS
Firing Line came within a head of handing Dortmund his first defeat in the Grade I Los Alamitos Derby last Dec. 20, despite absorbing a pinball-type stretch run in the mile and a sixteenth race.
Simon Callaghan is hoping for a less eventful trip when the Kentucky-bred son of Line of David owned by Arnold Zetcher tackles Dortmund and four others in Saturday’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
“He ran very well,” the trainer said of Firing Line. “He got bumped quite a bit down the lane, but he’s doing well and we’re looking forward to the race.”
Firing Line will have a new pilot in the Lewis, Gary Stevens replacing Rafael Bejarano. “We decided to make a change,” Callaghan said.
The Robert B. Lewis lineup: Tizcano, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; Rock Shandy, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Sebastian’s Heart, Agapito Delgadillo, 30-1; Hero Ten All, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Firing Line, Gary Stevens, 7-5; and Dortmund, Martin Garcia, 4-5.
NAKATANI HOPES FOR BETTER LUCK IN SAN MARCOS
Corey Nakatani is hoping for better luck on Dynamic Sky when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
The son of Sky Mesa owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse was beaten only two lengths while finishing sixth in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes Jan. 3, “lacking room behind rivals in midstretch.”
How tight was the finish? The eight starters were separated by only five lengths.
“I was coming between horses and got cut off,” Nakatani said of the San Gabriel. “I didn’t really let him get a chance to run at the point when he needed to. He’s a real big horse. I’m looking forward to getting another opportunity.”
The field for the San Marcos: Finnegans Wake, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Patrioticandproud, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Majestic Harbor, Mike Smith, 8-1; Power Ped, Flavien Prat, 9-2; Little Jerry, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Diamond Bachelor, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; Quadrivium, Forest Boyce, 8-1; Dynamic Sky, Corey Nakatani, 3-1; and Power Foot, Kieren Fallon, 8-1.
FINISH LINES: Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder “had a good open gallop today” and is about a week away from her first official workout following her scratch due to fever from the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last Oct. 31, trainer Richard Mandella said . . . Delta Jackpot winner Ocho Ocho Ocho worked four furlongs for trainer Jim Cassidy on a gorgeous Thursday morning in 49.80 for the San Felipe Stakes on March 7 . . . With three wins from his last four mounts including two on Sunday, Edwin Maldonado is back on the beam, and hopes to continue when he rides speedy Little Jerry in Saturday’s San Marcos Stakes. “I was happier than a dog with two tales,” Maldonado said after Sunday’s double. Trainer Richard Baltas on Little Jerry, who will be seeking the first stakes win of his 25-race career: “We’ll try them and see how it goes. He seems like he wants to run now. Before, he wouldn’t run unless he was on the lead. Last time he didn’t run bad. We’re taking a shot because we don’t have anywhere else to run.” Baltas added that Bing Crosby winner Big Macher came out of his disappointing showing in the Palos Verdes “perfect” and could re-surface in the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Feb. 21. “There’s a chance he could go there,” Baltas said. “I wanted to try him on the grass because he’s out of a Kris S mare.”. . . Andy Harrington, clocker for NationalTurf.com, will be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper Saturday in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. . . . Samantha Sachs, 8-year-old granddaughter of Tom Knust, agent for Elvis Trujillo, plays the lead role of Cossette in Les Miserables at the IFGF Los Angeles venue at 147 West Palm Ave. in Monrovia from March 27 through April 1.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Feb. 1)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||96||10||11||16||10%||$605,826|
|John W. Sadler||51||5||7||10||10%||$347,432|