08/21/2014 8:31AM

Shared Belief gets outside post 11 for Pacific Classsic

Shigeki Kikkawa
Shared Belief was made the 5-2 favorite for the Pacific Classic.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Shared Belief has made his living as the outsider. He did not run in last year’s Breeders’ Cup, but it mattered not when he completed an unbeaten campaign with a runaway victory weeks later in the CashCall Futurity, propelling him to the Eclipse Award as champion male 2-year-old.

Shared Belief missed the Triple Crown this spring owing to foot problems, yet has come back so strongly in two starts this year that he is ranked as one of the top 3-year-olds in the country.

That standing could be further enhanced on Sunday, when Shared Belief faces elders – including defending race winner Game On Dude – in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic over 1 1/4 miles at Del Mar. Appropriately, Shared Belief landed the outside stall in the field of 11 when posts were drawn on Wednesday night at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in nearby Rancho Santa Fe.

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“It’s not ideal, but it’s not bad,” Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer and a co-owner of Shared Belief, said of the post. “I’d rather be on the outside than on the inside.”

Shared Belief’s perfect 5-for-5 record, and the way he has crushed his rivals each time – every win by 4 1/4 lengths or more – convinced Del Mar linemaker Russell Hudak to make him the morning-line favorite at 5-2. Game On Dude is right behind at 3-1.

Shared Belief arrived at Del Mar on Wednesday afternoon after a nine-hour van ride from Golden Gate Fields, where he has trained over a Tapeta surface since being sidelined with foot problems earlier this year. Even though this will be the first start at Del Mar for Shared Belief, Hollendorfer believes training at Golden Gate and then racing at Del Mar will not be a problem.

Last month, Shared Belief utilized a similar schedule when he was sent by van to Southern California for the Los Alamitos Derby.

“You see the way he ran at Los Alamitos, or the way California Chrome ran in the Kentucky Derby after training at Los Alamitos,” Hollendorfer said. “You can train anywhere. We’ve done the right thing by the horse.”

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Hollendorfer did just that this spring, when the condition of Shared Belief overrode any temptation to try and get to the Kentucky Derby.

“We had no choice. We had to do it,” Hollendorfer said.

The time given to Shared Belief then is paying dividends now. But this will be his sternest test yet – first time going 1 1/4 miles, first time in a stakes race against older horses, first time at Del Mar, while facing a horse like Game On Dude, who, as he showed earlier in the year in the Santa Anita Handicap, still has some spark in those old legs.

Game On Dude drew post 5, just outside the longshot Ice Cream Truck, who is on the also-eligible list for the Del Mar Handicap on turf on Saturday. Irish Surf, who drew post 2 in the Pacific Classic, also is entered in the Del Mar Handicap, but he is expected to run in the Pacific Classic. If Irish Surf scratches from the Saturday race, that would allow Ice Cream Truck to get into the Del Mar Handicap.