01/06/2015 2:24PM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Shared Belief

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Benoit and Associates

It took time for Shared Belief to be able to put his best foot forward in 2014, but once he did, he quickly got back to the level of racing that propelled him to an Eclipse Award as the champion male 2-year-old of 2013. He is seeking to become the first male 2-year-old champ to repeat at 3 since Lookin At Lucky in 2009-10.

At the beginning of 2014, Shared Belief was considered one of the leading contenders for the spring classics. But a foot problem that flared up in January sent him to the sidelines, and by the time he was able to get back to the races, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness already had been run.
Jerry Hollendorfer, his trainer and co-owner, exercised patience, and once Shared Belief came back, he quickly made up for lost time. Unbeaten in three starts at age 2, he won his first four starts of 2014 – twice in Grade 1 company, against older horses, in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita – before suffering the first loss of his career when fourth after a rough trip in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

He came back for one additional start at the end of the year and picked up yet another Grade 1 win by capturing the Malibu Stakes on Santa Anita’s opening-day card Dec. 26.

After injuring his right front foot last January, Shared Belief decamped to Golden Gate Fields, where Hollendorfer had his wife and assistant, Janet, look after him. For the rest of the year, Shared Belief would train at Golden Gate. Other than his comeback race at that track, he would ship to Southern California to race, then quickly return north.

It was an unusual schedule, but Hollendorfer believed it best to train Shared Belief on Golden Gate’s synthetic Tapeta footing.
Shared Belief finally returned to action in May, winning a six-furlong allowance race at Golden Gate by 4 1/4 lengths and mirroring the romps he had in all three starts at age 2.

Off that one prep, he headed to Los Alamitos in July for the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby, which had been known as the Swaps Stakes when it was run at Hollywood Park. In another powerful performance, Shared Belief cruised to another 4 1/4-length victory.

In late August, he went to Del Mar to take on older horses in the Pacific Classic. The trip getting there was easier than the race. Shared Belief overcame a sluggish start and traffic trouble heading into the far turn before prevailing by 2 3/4 lengths over Toast of New York, the winner of the United Arab Emirates Derby.

In his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, Shared Belief had another eventful trip in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita. He was hounded throughout the first turn and down the backstretch by the longshot Sky Kingdom, finally cleared his stalker, then showed tremendous fortitude to run down the accomplished older horse Fed Biz and win by a neck.

That made him 7 for 7, with Grade 1 wins in 2014 on Polytrack at Del Mar and dirt at Santa Anita. He had earned the spot as favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Shared Belief never had a fair shot in the Classic. He was slammed at the start during a chain reaction that began when Bayern veered sharply left, then had to take up less than a furlong into the race when Toast of New York dropped over from an outside post. He did rally to finish fourth but had suffered the first loss of his career in an unsatisfying manner.

He started a new win streak in the Malibu, his final start of 2014.

Shared Belief is a gelding and thus will remain in training at age 4, and hopefully for years to come. Shared Belief, by Candy Ride out of the Storm Cat mare Common Hope, was bred by Marty and Pam Wygod. After his first start, the Wygods sold him to a partnership that includes Hollendorfer, Jim and Janet Rome, Alex Solis II, Jason Litt, George Todaro, and Kevin and Kim Nish.