08/27/2014 12:10PM

Jerardi: Three-year-old leaders on collision course

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Shared Belief earned a 115 Beyer for his win in the Pacific Classic. His average Beyer Speed Figure in triple figures in his six wins.

“I miss Shared Belief.”

That was my opening line from a late-February column when it was becoming obvious that the 2-year-old champion was not going to make it back in time for the Kentucky Derby.

Last Sunday at Del Mar, Shared Belief showed everybody just what we missed in May and June. Even as I jumped on the California Chrome bandwagon when he dominated in the San Felipe Stakes a few days after I had written that column, I never forgot about Shared Belief.

A 2-year-old making just his third lifetime start and his first around two turns does not get a 106 Beyer Speed Figure without rare talent. That was Shared Belief in the CashCall Futurity. It was not just how fast he was running but how he was doing it. It seemed effortless – speed to get position, acceleration on command, total domination in three 2-year-old starts, winning by a combined 20 1/2 lengths.

If Shared Belief could do that as a 2-year-old, what exactly was he capable of as a 3-year-old? Well, it took a while longer than expected, but we have our answer. As we head into September, Shared Belief is the fastest horse in America.

That 106 Beyer in December became a 115 Beyer in August. The domination continues, no matter the surface, the competition, or the distance. When the pace was really fast in Sunday’s Pacific Classic, Mike Smith just kept Shared Belief farther back than usual. And the colt still had the same giant run on the far turn and in the stretch.

His record is now 6 for 6, with a combined margin of victory of nearly 32 lengths. Shared Belief has hit triple digits on the Beyer scale three times. The common denominator was they were his two-turn races. The longer he goes, the faster he runs.

Exactly 11 years to the day after his unbeaten sire, Candy Ride, got his record to 6 for 6 by beating Medaglia d’Oro in the Pacific Classic and earning a 123 Beyer, Shared Belief came very close to replicating that performance. Candy Ride never ran again. Shared Belief runs on, the potential for a legendary career more obvious with every start.

Speculation is hazardous in this game because everything can change in an instant. Still, it is hard not to think about a Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic showdown between Shared Belief and California Chrome at Santa Anita with absolutely everything on the line.

While we are speculating, let’s imagine this scenario. California Chrome wins impressively in his comeback race Sept. 20 at Parx, running away from the field in the Pennsylvania Derby. So, in the Classic, you would have Chrome, with his California Cup Derby, San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, fourth in the Belmont Stakes, and Pennsylvania Derby, against Shared Belief, with his allowance win, the Los Alamitos Derby, and Pacific Classic (and a win in a prep race or no more wins if he just trains up to the race).

Unless Shared Belief comes east to challenge California Chrome in the Pennsylvania Derby, there would be no comparison between 2014 r é sum é s prior to a potential BC Classic meeting. California Chrome would come into the race with a huge lead for 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year honors. Let’s say Shared Belief wins the Classic. What would the voters do then?

Where Chrome finishes would be relevant, as he would still have the better overall r é sum é . Still, Shared Belief would have won their only meeting. That has to count. So does a great full year with Derby and Preakness wins. It would be a fascinating voting decision if we get to that point.

The Classic is two long months away. Much can still happen to change our perspective.

Let’s not forget that California Chrome could still improve. This is a colt who got a 108 Beyer in the San Felipe, a 107 in the Santa Anita Derby, and a 105 in the Preakness. If the Triple Crown did not fry him and the rest really helped him, perhaps California Chrome can come back and be as good or better than when he left.

Whatever happens, we are set up for a fall campaign that won’t be as defined as the Triple Crown but may end up telling us exactly what we want to know: Who’s got the best horse?

L. More than 1 year ago
Here's food for thought, the ONLY 2x Classic winner in the last 25 years or more who did not win CH 3yo was Tabasco Cat. He was beat by Holy Bull who had 5 GI wins that year to TC's 2. Shared Belief is no Holy Bull and hasn't faced all the best 3yos yet or the type of company Holy Bull did the entire year. This will come down to what happens in the Classic, but still until I see SB travel outside CA and win on a dirt surface other than Los Al, sorry I can't claim him the all being super power. And six races doesn't make a career anyway. I like SB, but I'm tired of people claiming every nice horse to come along like this is a superstar. They've faded faster than I can count over the years. And let's not forget, Candy Ride tends to throw his tender feet to his foals, which is why most of them end up on the turf and don't have long careers. So let's just enjoy the rides right now and hopefully the Classic will end up being a truly great race.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What if Australia and Kingman ran in the Classic? What a 3 year old showdown that would be. I haven't given up on 4 year olds Palace Malice and Will Take Charge either. This Classic could be one of the best ever if everything goes right.
Rosemarie Cola More than 1 year ago
Hey gang, did I miss something? Are they taking Shared Belief to Pa?
Bob More than 1 year ago
Let's not get too excited about Shared Belief just yet. He is a very typical California 3 year-old in that he hasn't run anywhere outside the state and the field he beat in the Pacific Classics was comprised of an aging Game on Dude who is clearly past his prime and a group of second tier handicap horses who themselves haven't accomplished much of anything on the big stage of thoroughbred racing. And if it hadn't been for the presence of yet another over-matched, cheap speedster from South America, who clearly didn't belong in the race, the Dude may well have been long at the top of the stretch, just like has was last year.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The 3 year old male division is the hardest division for a Cali based runner to be considered elite without leaving the state. Since 1986, there have been 11 Cali based 3 year olds who won divisional honors. Of them, only Tiznow and I'll Have Another did not make at least 3 starts outside Cali, and those two ran in and won 2 races outside Cali. And of the 4 previous three year olds to win the PAC Classic before Shared Belief, all had made at least one start in a Triple Crown race and, of course, none of the Triple Crown races are run in Cali. The only elite 3 year old I can think of who at the time of running in the PAC Classic and, who like Shared Belief, had not run outside Cali was Tiznow. But it wasn't until Tiznow crushed the Super Derby and won the BC Classic at Churchill that he became a serious contender for year end honors. So, the fact that Shared Belief is such a prime contender for the Eclipse while running only in Cali is the exception when it comes to 3 year old.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Shared Belief reminds me a lot of Barbaro, manageable, high cruising speed with sharp acceleration. Truthfully California Chrome has much the same style so am looking forward to when (if) they meet. With some good fortune could set the table for a great rivalry.
TomPHickey More than 1 year ago
I love Chrome and his story, at least until after Belmont. He's a fine horse. I have to think that at a 1 1/4 Shared Belief will be stronger, and especially with Chrome coming off the layoff. Of course,in a full field, much will depend on the trip. SB won't be able to drop back so far like he did against a field full of someone other than Game on Dude, because, in reality that's all he's beaten. There will be lots of stalkers ready to pounce on a fast pace again in the BCC.
Bob More than 1 year ago
It also depends on how much cheap speed is n the race and whether or not there will be a sensible pace or a suicidal pace. There are very few horses that could have lasted against the pace that was set in the PC by the cheap speed from South America who himself was egged on by a confirmed frontrunner in Game on Dude. Meanwhile, there are a lot of horses who could have taken advantage of that same pace set-up and made it look easy just as Shared Belief did.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Does anyone how Nakatani got so unlucky to lose the mount on SB?
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Excellent question !
L. More than 1 year ago
Been wondering that myself. I thought they were a good match myself.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
PS. any pseudo handicappers who were claiming this was a weak crop of colts and that UNTAPABLE was the best 3yo still out there.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Funny how Untapable hasn't been the same horse since Asmussen was forced to send his needle-man Scott Blasi, into hiding after the embarrassing PETA video surfaced.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
I too missed him so much in the derby especially since I had him bet heavily in the futures pools.i actually posted some delusions about how he could still make the derby until it was past clear that it would not happen.but at least now I feel somewhat vindicated .not only did he win and beat older horses impressively but he beat UAE DERBY winner TOAST OF NEW YORK one of the best synthetic track horses out there.
L. More than 1 year ago
I don't think he would have made the Derby had he been healthy. Jerry said early on the Derby was not a priority and had no intentions of pointing to the Derby, so we likely wouldn't have seen him in any TC race at all anyway.
Kenny H More than 1 year ago
Gotta love Mike Smith's switch from the horse in the past.... to the horse of the future.....worked out pretty well I'd say!