07/16/2014 12:15PM

Jerardi: Are California Chrome and Shared Belief actually one and the same?

Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome (pictured) is chestnut and Shared Belief is brown, but columnist Dick Jerardi is still convinced trainers Art Sherman and Jerry Hollendorfer are up to something.

Has anybody ever seen California Chrome and Shared Belief in the same place?

Allegedly, Shared Belief was going to prepare for a Kentucky Derby assault after clinching the 2-year-old male championship with a 5 3/4-length win in the Dec. 14 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. Then, word came early this year that he had a foot problem. The gelding disappeared from the work tab and was eventually declared out of the Triple Crown. The foot, we were told, needed time to heal.

Does anybody else find it curious that just eight days after Shared Belief’s last race as a 2-year-old, California Chrome dominated the King Glorious on closing day at Hollywood?

Any resemblance between the California Chrome that won that race by 6 1/4 lengths and the horse that had lost four of his first six starts was purely coincidental. This was a different horse. Perhaps, it really was a different horse.

While Shared Belief disappeared into horse racing’s version of the witness protection program, California Chrome won the California Cup Derby by 5 1/2 lengths, the San Felipe by 7 1/4 lengths, and the Santa Anita Derby by 5 1/4 lengths.

California Chrome ran his winning streak to six when he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He won those six races by a combined 27 1/2 lengths.

Does anybody find it curious that just nine days after the Preakness Shared Belief made his 3-year-old debut at Golden Gate Fields?

Look, if you are going to hide a horse, the track across the bay from San Francisco is the place to do it these days.

Yes, I know California Chrome is chestnut and Shared Belief is brown, but I am still convinced trainers Art Sherman and Jerry Hollendorfer are up to something.

Really, look at the running styles of these horses (or horse). They run the same race every time: stalk, pounce, run away, and hide.

I know California Chrome is listed as a colt and Shared Belief a gelding. Still, I wonder.

We know the horse that was in the paddock at the Derby and Preakness was definitely not a gelding as his equipment was displayed in all its glory.

Who exactly was that imposter in the paddock at the Belmont Stakes? There was no equipment display, no excitement. And the race? That was not the horse that won those six straight races. There is no way the real California Chrome (or whatever his name is) finishes in a dead heat for fourth.

I have further evidence that something is amiss. California Chrome was flown back to Los Alamitos after the Belmont Stakes and then allegedly sent to the San Joaquin Valley farm where he was born. Do we know if California Chrome actually left Los Alamitos? Has anybody actually been to Harris Farms to see him and, if so, how can they be sure it is really California Chrome?

Really, do they think we’re stupid? Who shows up at Los Alamitos on July 5 to run in the Los Alamitos Derby? Shared Belief, of course.

And he runs just like California Chrome ran in that long winning streak. The alleged Shared Belief even ran away from poor Candy Boy just like the alleged California Chrome did in the Santa Anita Derby and just like the alleged Shared Belief did in the CashCall.

What happens to Shared Belief after his fifth consecutive win by a total margin of 29 lengths? The horse is immediately sent back to Golden Gate Fields, again away from prying eyes – an incredible coincidence.

California Chrome is supposedly coming back to Sherman’s barn at Los Alamitos soon where he will be getting ready to run a single race to gear up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There is talk of Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar where he can romp over Polytrack just like he has on Tapeta, Cushion Track, and dirt. Got to think the Classic is on the long-term agenda for Shared Belief as well.

Let’s just assume for a second that there really are two horses in play here (a big assumption, I know). Does anybody really know which is the better horse?

Perhaps, they both make it to the Classic. That would provide some answers, but it is a long time to Nov. 1.

I have a better idea. It can solve the identity “controversy” and provide a forum to settle the inevitable debate about which is better. I know both trainers have said they are not sending their horses back East this year, but they are running a $1 million race for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing on Sept. 20, six weeks before the Classic. They call it the Pennsylvania Derby. The eventual champion 3-year-old male, Will Take Charge, won it last year. Seems like the logical spot to answer all the lingering questions.

And, now that appearance fees have been in the news, it is worth reminding that the owner and trainer of any horse that wins any Triple Crown race get $50,000 if their horse comes out of the Pennsylvania Derby starting gate. That would be a cool $100,000 (Derby and Preakness) each for Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman and the Dumb Ass Partners. Oh, and there is another $10,000 to cover shipping expenses for all starters, something I hear concerns the DAP guys.