03/05/2015 2:16PM

Shared Belief holds spotlight in Santa Anita Handicap

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Shared Belief is the 3-5 morning-line favorite for the Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – His fan base is growing, his odds are dropping, and Shared Belief is expected to solidify his position as the nation’s top older horse when he starts favored Saturday in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.

This time, Shared Belief will not share a spotlight. All the attention is on him. Following a decisive Feb. 7 victory over California Chrome in the San Antonio Stakes, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sensed that Shared Belief’s popularity has increased to more than polite applause.

“I notice it,” the trainer said. “A lot of horses get a following. California Chrome has a huge following. In the paddock for the last race, my horse got a little clapping, and then here comes Art Sherman and California Chrome, and everybody was cheering.”

:: SANTA ANITA HANDICAP: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s Santa Anita card live

The cheers Saturday will be for Shared Belief, the 3-5 program favorite in a surprisingly large field of 13 who entered the $1 million, 1 1/4-mile Big Cap.

Shared Belief, whose rider is Mike Smith, has won 9 of 10 and earned $2,332,200. He also carries 125 pounds on Saturday, conceding four to 11 to his rivals. Still, isn’t the Big Cap a slam dunk?

“No, it’s definitely not,” Hollendorfer said. “There are a lot of horses in there, and they’re not giving any money away until after the race.”

Shared Belief’s 12 rivals include Moreno, a Grade 1-winning front-runner; Bronzo, a Group 1 winner in South America rounding into form; and recent stakes winners Hard Aces from Louisiana and Sr. Quisqueyano from Florida.

Those are not the only top horses running Saturday. Prior to the Big Cap, the last of 11 races with a post time of 5 p.m. Pacific, several competitive stakes will be run.

Prospect Park will try to knock off the unbeaten Dortmund in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes for 3-year-olds, race 7. The exciting 3-year-old filly Curlin’s Fox is the likely favorite at a mile on turf in the $75,000 China Doll, race 8.

Chitu has a score to settle with Conquest Two Step in the Grade 2 San Carlos at seven furlongs, race 9. Turf milers including Summer Front, Za Approval, and front-runner Holy Lute top the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, race 10.

The card will be held under sunny skies, with the high forecast to be 84.

While Shared Belief enters the Big Cap as a deserving favorite, two key rivals look to upset. Neil Drysdale trains Bronzo, a Group 1 winner from Chile fresh off a good fourth at 1 1/8 miles in the San Antonio. Bronzo raced wide, moved late, and galloped out in front of Shared Belief and California Chrome.

“We’re not under any illusion that we can beat Shared Belief,” Drysdale said before adding that Bronzo “is a mile-and-a-quarter-plus horse.”

Bronzo has won 11 of 22. Tyler Baze gains the mount from Gary Stevens, who rides allowance winner Catch a Flight.

Hard Aces, a son of Hard Spun, was purchased privately following a stakes win at Fair Grounds. He will make his first start for trainer John Sadler.

“I’m gambling he’s an improving horse,” Sadler said. “Some of the Hard Spuns are late developers.”

Hard Aces has won 5 of 19.

The Big Cap pace is likely to be set by Moreno, with Sr. Quisqueyano, Diamond Bachelor ,and Crimson Giant in pursuit. The other entrants are Cool Samurai, Patrioticandproud, You Know I Know, Dynamic Sky, and Imperative.

:: DRF Live: Watch live handicapping analysis of Saturday’s biggest races, starting at 12:30 Eastern

KEY CONTENDERS

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

◗ Golden Gate-based Shared Belief and Hollendorfer arrived Wednesday, repeating the pattern that produced Santa Anita wins in the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 2 San Antonio. Shared Belief will return to Golden Gate following the Big Cap.

“Since he’s been running consistently, I don’t have to be quite as hard on him as I was getting him ready for the San Antonio,” Hollendorfer said. “It’s more a maintenance thing, rather than drilling on him.”

Bronzo (Last 3 Beyers: 94-87-94)

◗ Fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in his U.S. debut in November, Bronzo has been targeting the Big Cap. He finished sixth in the San Pasqual and fourth in the San Antonio.

“Those two races have helped him, plus we’re getting to know him,” Drysdale said. “I’m very pleased with the horse. Tyler Baze worked him and loved him.”

Hard Aces (Last 3 Beyers: 104-96-72)

◗ His recent four-length stakes win was validated when third-place Albano returned to win. Hard Aces arrived from Fair Grounds on Feb. 23.

“You have to [analyze] him off his last two races,” Sadler said. “Before that, he was just kind of okay. My thinking is he’s a late-developing horse. A mile and a quarter, I can tell he’s going to relish that.”

Moreno (Last 3 Beyers: 58-96-107)

◗ Trainer Eric Guillot is using the Big Cap as a prep for the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic next month. Moreno, a Grade 1 winner, underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove ankle chips following his last-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Scott More than 1 year ago
I'm a little surprised to see such a large field for this year's Big Cap. It's hard to envision any of these beating Shared Belief without something extraordinary happening (like a horse destroying him out of the starting gate or something along those lines). He and CC proved in the San Antonio that they were SIGNIFICANTLY better than the rest and considering that the 3rd place horse Hopperturnity would likely be the second choice today if he was running that's a huge statement.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Wow Kent D is riding awful. What was he doing on Kill Shot in the 5th. That was weak real weak. He rides like an old lady.
stockmann9914 . More than 1 year ago
Game on dude got bad mouthed because he ran in California so much, why not SB? Want to be called the best, try leaving town this year.
Scott More than 1 year ago
I think they'll leave town in November (assuming he can stay healthy). It didn't make sense to leave town last year with the BCC in his home state and frankly, doesn't make too much sense to leave town prior to November this year unless that was to pursue the huge prize that is Dubai's World Cup.
Marc Rogala More than 1 year ago
Does not look beatable but imperative might just surprise at a huge price
Brian Duntugan More than 1 year ago
Good luck 2 Shared Belief in the Big Cap.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
This is a Grade 1 field? So sad for the Big Cap - that moniker may not apply much longer. The Dubai World Cup is draining top contenders from this race, especially now that Meydan has switched back to dirt. This certainly wasn't what we envisioned back at the end of last year, when we probably all had visions of multiple matchups between Shared Belief, California Chrome, and Bayern.
Marc Rogala More than 1 year ago
Cc knows to stay away in this field he might run third and I mean might!
Scott More than 1 year ago
PLEASE Marc...you can't possibly be serious! First, this race is small potatoes compared to the Dubai World Cup. Even his most ardent haters should at least be willing to grant that California Chrome's connections are reaching for the brass ring by going to Dubai. I don't fault anybody for not wanting to make the trip, but if anybody is ducking in this case it's Shared Belief and his connections. Again, I have to strongly note that I don't fault anybody for not wanting to travel to Dubai (i've been there 9 times while in the Navy and if I wasn't such a huge horse racing fan, then I wouldn't even visit it again via television. LOL!) Shared Belief was clearly better than CC in the San Antonio, but not so much better that you could write off a rematch in the Big Cap. From this fan's perspective, I wish that CC's connections would have stayed home, but certainly don't fault them for trying to cash in and assuming he travels well (and he has so far), then I think they'll be wearing grins at the end of their race in Dubai. Amy, we could still see 2 or 3 more meetings between these horses assuming everyone stays healthy.
Quite a More than 1 year ago
Moreno had ankle chips removed after the Classic.So that puts his surgery the first part of November. This is the first part of March. You mean the horse went through surgery four months ago, rehabs, breezes numerous times and he returns in the mile and a quarter SA handicap? And this is a prep for the CT Classic?
Scott More than 1 year ago
Yeah, I thought it was an odd thing to say about a horse too. First, I've never heard of a horse coming back from a surgery (no matter how minor) running in a Grade 1 at 10F's or any Grade 1 for that matter. Second, to call the Big Cap a prep for the Charles Town Classic is just condescending and insulting to California racing in general and to horse racing fans as a whole. Moreno's trainer has always been a little out there and it's good for the sport to have characters, but either he's putting up a huge smoke screen or he's flat off his rocker here. A healthy and happy Moreno is one of those dangerous type of front runners that if you leave them alone too long, then you will not catch them. However, coming off a long layoff with a minor surgery to boot...it's hard to imagine that he's at his best.
tommy More than 1 year ago
I will play he double using home run kitten, Za approval, and summer front with Dynamic sky, bronzo
tommy More than 1 year ago
Shared belief will be running with 125 lbs at a longer distance which will increase the demand for more oxygen! This will enable shared belief to build up lactic acid much sooner in the race ( decrease in ph levels to cause fatigue) to enable a closer to best him! Shared belief will not be able to close as well because he will be fatigued. Other horses such as dynamic sky and patriotic should relish at this subsequent distance!! This is the exercise physiology logic behind horse racing!! I also know secret formulas which will enable a horse or human to run much faster and longer ; )
Quite a More than 1 year ago
Well dude, by all means get a trainers license, a bunch of horses and become the greatest, richest, most successful trainer in history. For that matter, what are you waiting for? Do put those "secret formulas" to work!!! Otherwise shut the **** up and spout your bulls*** to your cat in your mom's basement....
prose perfect More than 1 year ago
My cat reads the DRF and tells me who to bet on. He favors current form and class over speed figures. He points out that it's not how fast the mice run that he chases but how they run fast.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOLOL!!!
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
I kinda feel sorry for the slow mice.May they RIP
littlebigman More than 1 year ago
Wait, I'm confused. Shared Belief is chasing mice that sell acid?
stockmann9914 . More than 1 year ago
I think you went to too many Grateful Dead concerts.
Franz Smythe More than 1 year ago
Beat none in his last, will beat nothing here. Best horse in training though.