07/05/2014 8:28PM

Shared Belief much the best in Los Alamitos Derby

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Benoit & Associates
Shared Belief, making his first start on dirt, remains unbeaten in five starts by taking the Los Alamitos Derby under Mike Smith

CYPRESS, Calif .- Shared Belief made winning a $500,000 race look easy in Saturday’s Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby.

He also put to rest any questions about how he would handle dirt or perform over 1 1/8 miles.

Shared Belief, the champion 2-year-old male of 2013, was not fully extended by jockey Mike Smith to win his first stakes since the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity last December. The Los Alamitos Derby was Shared Belief’s second start of the year, preceded by a win in an allowance race over six furlongs against older horses at Golden Gate Fields in late May.

The win is likely to lead to a major stakes for Shared Belief in August, although trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was non-committal about plans immediately after the race.

In the Los Alamitos Derby, Shared Belief raced on dirt for the first time in his career. The win puts Shared Belief back in the national conversation for the 3-year-old division. Shared Belief missed more than two months of training earlier this year because of foot problems, which cost him a chance for an appearance in a Triple Crown race.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Shared Belief ($3.40) was timed in 1:47.01 and had an ideal trip in the Los Alamitos Derby.

 Can the Man, the winner of the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita on June 7, set the pace, closely tracked by Shared Belief. Smith said he waited until the end of the backstretch, when challenged by Candy Boy, to ask Shared Belief for a run.

“I waited until someone came to me on the outside and he did it awful quick,” Smith said of Shared Belief’s reaction.

Shared Belief took the lead on the turn and led by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining. Shared Belief won by 4 1/4 lengths over Candy Boy without late urging by Smith.

 “I wasn’t trying to make it look good,” he said. “I wanted to stay on.”

Smith said he knew right away that Shared Belief was comfortable on dirt, after four races on synthetic tracks.

“I knew 100 yards into the race that he would handle the dirt,” he said.

Hollendorfer said he felt a sense of relief after watching Shared Belief win.

“I was a little anxious to get this one of out of the way and see if he could handle dirt and go the mile and an eighth,” he said. “I thought I had him prepared and apparently he was because he won pretty much in hand.”

Tonito M., trained by Hollendorfer, finished third, followed by Friendswith K Mill, Can the Man, Top Fortitude, and Eddie’s First.

Shared Belief races for a partnership that includes television sports commentator Jim Rome, Hollendorfer, George Todaro, and Alex Solis II. By Candy Ride, Shared Belief is unbeaten in five starts and has earned $772,200.

The Los Alamitos Derby was Shared Belief’s third stakes win. He won the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue over seven furlongs last November in his stakes debut.