11/01/2014 10:19PM

Shared Belief finishes fourth in BC Classic after finding trouble throughout

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Debra A. Roma
Shared Belief ran into trouble early and finished fourth Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – To hear Mike Smith tell it, Shared Belief was finished at the start.

Shared Belief, last year’s 2-year-old champion, couldn’t overcome a severe bump at the break, some steadying through the stretch the first time, and a wide trip down the backside as he suffered his first career defeat when finishing fourth in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Shared Belief finished four lengths behind the front-running Bayern, who came in at the break from post 7 and bumped Shared Belief into Moreno. The incident had Shared Belief sixth down the lane the first time.

The bumping incident was the subject of a steward’s inquiry immediately following the race, but the stewards deemed that Shared Belief was bothered more by horses that he beat than by Bayern.

“I swear to you – I honestly believe it cost me the whole race. I really believe that,” said Smith, who was not angry when he spoke to the press immediately after the race was made official.

Asked if he felt the incident cost his horse the race, an upset Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer of Shared Belief said, “What do you think?”

Shared Belief got bumped by Bayern into Moreno, and after that, he was forced to steady behind Toast of New York, who had cut in front of him about an eighth of a mile into the race.

One could see Smith bounce in the saddle as he tried to settle Shared Belief into his stride. Shared Belief was four wide entering the first turn and in sixth position. Down the backside, he raced outside of Moreno, but, according to Smith, but got bumped by that horse and was never comfortable. He launched a mild bid around the turn but never got into contention with the top three, well behind Bayern, Toast of New York, and California Chrome.

“I got hit really hard the first jump, and after that, I kept getting hit,” Smith said. “After the first jump Bayern hit me, it slowed me up enough so the rest of them could finish me off. My colt got up, and he ran really well. Considering all he went through, it was a pretty incredible race. I would have liked to have seen what would have happened if I would have had a fair break.”

It was the second straight race Shared Belief was bothered by horses during the running of a race. He was carried very wide in the Awesome Again Stakes but overcame that to win.

Saturday’s loss likely cost Shared Belief a chance at Horse of the Year and the 3-year-old championship, titles that may now go to Bayern or perhaps California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

Smith said he does not believe the bumping from Bayern, under jockey Martin Garcia, was done intentionally.

“Nothing you can do. The first jump is the first jump. We all leave there with a loop our rein the first jump,” Smith said. “I can’t say at all it was intentional.”

Hollendorfer said he didn’t believe the bumping was done intentionally either but had little else to say as he walked back to the barn after the race.

“He was wide the whole way. He got bumped around two or three different times,” Hollendorfer said. “I’m not making an excuse. That’s what happened.”