02/05/2015 1:18PM

San Antonio matches pair of champions

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Benoit & Associates
California Chrome ended his 2014 season with this win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The matchup is almost too good to be true.

The champions California Chrome, voted 2014 Horse of the Year, and Shared Belief, the outstanding 2-year-old male of 2013, meet for the second time in Saturday’s $500,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita. It is an encounter that everyone from casual racing fans to diehard enthusiasts will embrace.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Art Sherman, who trains California Chrome. “I want a fair shake for both of us at the head of the stretch with no excuses.”

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The Grade 2 San Antonio could be their last meeting for a while. In March, California Chrome and Shared Belief are expected to race on opposite sides of the world. California Chrome is likely to run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates on March 28. Shared Belief is a candidate for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7.

If that happens, the two are unlikely to meet again until the summer. Saturday is the day when one of them can stake a position as an early-season leader in the older-male division.

“The fans want to see this,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Shared Belief. “Timing-wise, this is the race that fits into the program of both horses. That’s the way racing is supposed to be. The races are supposed to be competitive.”

The San Antonio is the top race on a strong nine-race program which begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific and includes the $200,000 San Marcos Stakes for older horses on turf and the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds. The San Antonio Stakes is part of a two-hour program on Fox Sports 1 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Pacific which also includes the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

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California Chrome, who races for Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, is likely to be a slight favorite over Shared Belief in the San Antonio Stakes, run at 1 1/8 miles. The race drew nine runners, including the improving Hoppertunity, the winner of the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November.

All three won their last start – California Chrome in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar on Nov. 29, Shared Belief in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here Dec. 26, and Hoppertunity in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes here Jan. 10.

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For California Chrome and Shared Belief, the San Antonio is their first meeting since they were third and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind Bayern here Nov. 1. Bayern will not start in the San Antonio because of a minor foot injury he sustained last month.

KEY CONTENDERS

California Chrome (Last 3 Beyers: 96-113-98)

◗ In the last year, California Chrome has become a fan favorite for winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes last spring, and for his blue-collar bloodlines – he is from an $8,000 mare bred to a $2,500 stallion. The win in the Hollywood Derby clinched his title as Horse of the Year.

◗ Since mid-December, California Chrome has worked steadily, and maybe too easily, at Sherman’s base at Los Alamitos. California Chrome was not fully extended by jockey Victor Espinoza in several of his works but still recorded sharp times.

◗ Espinoza thinks California Chrome is stronger than he was as a 3-year-old in 2014. Sherman is hoping he is right.

“I get a little bit concerned,” Sherman said this week. “I’d like to see him get more out of his works. Maybe I’m a little overcautious. He really runs good fresh, too.”


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 8 California Chrome. Trainer Art Sherman is 11-3-1-1 with a $3.20 ROI over the past three years going turf to dirt in routes. Click for more details. Dan Illman

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Shared Belief (Last 3 Beyers: 99-107-101)

◗ Owned by a partnership led by sports talk show host Jim Rome, Shared Belief has lost once in his nine-race career – having finished fourth in the BC Classic, where he was soundly bumped by Bayern shortly after the start. He rebounded to win the Malibu Stakes by a neck at seven furlongs, a distance that seems shorter than his optimum trip.

◗ Through January, Shared Belief had fast workouts on the Tapeta Footings synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields, where Hollendorfer has kept the gelding between his starts in Southern California.

◗ This week, Hollendorfer described Shared Belief’s condition as “100 percent.”

“Shared Belief has been remarkably consistent,” he said. “He’s is carrying a little more weight than he used to. Are we improved a little bit? I think so. As far as California Chrome goes, the Derby trail is a difficult trail to follow. The fact that he’s still around and running makes him a tough competitor.”

scott More than 1 year ago
why would drf bets not have available the xcountry pick 4 today?
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Hey!!!!!!!!
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Finally! It's good to see a Grade 2 race with Grade 1 caliber horses to spare running in it. A welcome change!
tommy More than 1 year ago
This race should be grade 1
Accs Horses More than 1 year ago
THEEEE race of 2015, no doubt. Looking forward to it - just a few hours away. I do not think that Santa Anita Park has seen or will have such a large crowd as there will be today for the greatly anticipated San Antonio Stakes. May all equine athletes & their jockeys have a Great Start , a very safe trip, stay sound, healthy and have a lot of good racing luck!!!
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
today will be vindication for shared belief, in a cleanly run race(i hope) he will show that he is superior to cc,i dont think cc will even be second,as usual santa anita will probably be lightning fast with a favorable inside ,so with the natural speed of shared belief i believe he will go to the front and improve his position,with cc in a stalking position and cc will come up empty, like in the classic ,when it counts. hoppurtunity will get a no brainer second.go to the bank and see you in hawaii
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
I couldnt have said it better myself thank you for not being delusional like all the Chrome lickers
Accs Horses More than 1 year ago
No need to be hateful of others favorites. Each their own. Don't like it, don't post...:)
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
i dont hate cc just a dose of reality today,if shared belief had the trip that cc had in the classic,do you think he would have hung like cc did or ran by bayern? switch trips and albeit hypothetical i truly bellieve shared belief would have won,plain and simple. cc got horse of the year and deserved it for his triple crown wins,but only by default and the fairness of the turf writers,bayerns win in the classic was ignored and no factor lin the voting for the first time since the bc classic has been run
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Chuck, I believe with a clean trip SB finishes second or third in a heater, or close to it, perhaps a 4-way photo finish I guess is what I mean. Can you name a horse who took over on that track in the stretch, passed horses and won? How about making up several lengths? It didn't happen That track that day(s) was a no passing zone. The one horse that gave the illusion of passing horses AND making up ground was the 2yo Filly Top Decile, she was 7th out of 12 after a half despite being 4 1/2-5 lengths off the pace/pack of the horses chasing Take Charge Brandi, (where all winners on the dirt had to be no further back from that position) she did make up apprx 4 1/2 lengths, but she passed more tired horses (again those, chasing TCBrandi) than lengths, going from 7th to 2nd. That's why to me, a line has to be drawn thru this years Breeder's Cup Races on that track, and the BC desperately need's to be rotated to be really fair for all horses, especially if their style of running isn't conducive to SA's rock-hard track. Just some thoughts, what do you think?
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
Wishing all the best for all the horses, safe trips, and Chrome to win by 5. Would prefer that Chrome stay home and compete in the Big 'Cap in March. Wouldn't mind his going to Royal Ascot in June...now that would be a sight to see... Steve Coburn in a morning suit and top hat!
harpharper . More than 1 year ago
I wonder what Baffert's instructions will be to Garcia? Bob: "Ok Martin, float Shared Belief 9 wide on the first turn, then as Chrome comes up next to you push Victor off his horse."
Union_Rags More than 1 year ago
Tomorrow is exciting. Meydan is not.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Hey!!!!!
John Stahl More than 1 year ago
". . . the BC Classic, where he was soundly bumped by Bayern . . ." Haha, now we have comedy writers at the DRF. How about "bumped, cut off, forced to check, lost all chance . . "