12/14/2013 9:04PM

Hollywood Park: CashCall Futurity romp puts Shared Belief in Eclipse picture

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Benoit & Associates
Shared Belief, under Corey Nakatani, remains unbeaten in three starts by taking the CashCall Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Welcome, Shared Belief, to the Jungle for sure, the Kentucky Derby trail certainly, and perhaps to an Eclipse Award.

Shared Belief capped his brief, brilliant 2-year-old campaign on Saturday with a dazzling victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park, scoring a runaway win that puts him squarely in the picture for an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male, makes him and New Year’s Day - the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner - the leading contenders from the West Coast for next spring’s Kentucky Derby, and guarantees horse racing being put in the public eye for as long as the glow lasts because of his majority owner, Jim Rome, popular host of a sports talk radio show nicknamed the Jungle.

Shared Belief, in his first start around two turns and in a Grade 1 race, sat second during the early going, surged to the lead entering the lane, and drew off powerfully for a 5 3/4-length win under jockey Corey Nakatani.

Candy Boy, like Shared Belief a son of Candy Ride, held second after making a bold mid-race move that took him to the lead entering the far turn. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to third-place Tamarando.

Jerry Hollendorfer, a co-owner of Shared Belief, is the trainer of both he and Tamarando.

Bond Holder was fourth and was followed, in order, by Electric Eddie, Brother Soldier, Sheikinator, Rankhasprivleges, Even Echo, Kobe’s Back, Tap It Rich, and Karma King. Tap It Rich bolted on the first turn, and Karma King bolted on the final turn.

Shared Belief completed 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track in 1:42.16, which will compare favorably on speed figures to the 1:50.07 final time for 1 1/8 miles recorded by older horses in the Native Diver Stakes one hour earlier.

Shared Belief ($4) was sent off the even-money favorite against 11 rivals, despite his lack of experience. But he had been so impressive in his first two starts, against maidens going six furlongs at Golden Gate on Oct. 19 and in the seven-furlong Hollywood Prevue here on Nov. 10, that bettors backed him with confidence.

In the paddock, Shared Belief was on his toes, a sign he was eager.

“He’s not usually like that. He’s comfortable around the barn,” Hollendorfer said.

When the gates opened, though, Shared Belief was content letting Brother Soldier set off to the lead through quick fractions of 22.86 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.59 seconds for a half-mile. Even when Candy Boy made his sudden rally heading into the far turn, which carried him past Shared Belief, Shared Belief waited for Nakatani’s cue. Once given it, he showed sudden acceleration.

“I never expected him to do it like that,” Hollendorfer said. In a classic, simply classic Hollendorfer understatement, he added, “Apparently he’s doing very well right now.”

Apparently.

Shared Belief has a compelling resume for champion 2-year-old male. There is no one in the division who has won two Grade 1 races -- so he is tied for first -- he dominated BC Juvenile graduates Bond Holder and Tap It Rich, and he has never lost.

With Hollywood Park closing, Shared Belief will head to Santa Anita on Friday and will be trained there in preparation for next spring’s Derby preps at Santa Anita. The CashCall Futurity did not offer any points toward the Derby – Churchill Downs having removed it from the points list after including the race last year – but Shared Belief will get ample opportunity to earn points in coming months.

Hollendorfer is reluctant to talk about the Derby – he has been snakebit there far too often – but did allow, “If you go to the Derby, the horse takes you there. You don’t take him there.”

Shared Belief, a gelding, was bred by Marty Wygod. After he won first time out at Golden Gate for trainer Jedd Josephson, Wygod sent him to Hollendorfer – as previously planned – but told Hollendorfer he wanted to sell the horse.

“I asked him, since the horse was coming to me, if he’d allow me a chance to buy the horse,” Hollendorfer said. After an asking price was named, Hollendorfer contacted bloodstock agent Alex Solis Jr.

“I told him I like the horse -- he’s a gelding, so it might be a risk,” Hollendorfer said. “Alex came and saw the horse, liked him, and said he’d put Jim Rome, himself, and Jason Litt in the horse. I took a piece, and so did George Todaro.”

Rome, the popular radio and Showtime sports personality, campaigns as Jungle Racing. His best horse thus far is Mizdirection, a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint whom Rome acquired through Solis.

“I just went with him,” Rome said, referring to Solis, “when he said to get in. Alex is an extremely disciplined buyer. He says no to most things.”

Hollendorfer would not divulge the purchase price, or the respective ownership percentages, but said Rome is the majority owner.

“And I have a decent piece,” he said.