Updated on 09/30/2014 8:33AM

Shared Belief by a neck in Awesome Again

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Shared Belief won his seventh straight start Saturday in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The suburb where Santa Anita is located is a tony, genteel town, not known for crime. But there was an attempted mugging on Saturday. The intended victim, though, was able to fend off his attackers.

Shared Belief ($2.40) had to overcome the apparent tag-team tactics of a pair of Bob Baffert-trained runners in the Grade 1, $300,500 Awesome Again Stakes. He was carried wide on both turns of the 1 1/8-mile race by Baffert’s rank longshot, Sky Kingdom, but still rallied bravely through the lane to catch Baffert’s other and better horse, Fed Biz, to prevail to remain unbeaten after seven starts.

 Shared Belief, fourth entering the lane, got up to beat Fed Biz by a neck, with Footbridge another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Majestic Harbor was fourth and was followed, in order, by Imperative, Mystery Train, and then Sky Kingdom, who finished more than 22 lengths behind Shared Belief.

 Bird E House was scratched earlier in the day, leaving a field of seven.

 The distance of the race officially was 1 1/8 miles, which Shared Belief completed in 1:48.58 on the fast main track. But he ran much, much farther than that with the ground loss after being carried out by Sky Kingdom, who was ridden by Victor Ezpinoza.

:: Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Results, replays, charts, and more

 Espinoza is the regular rider for California Chrome, Shared Belief’s main rival for the title as champion 3-year-old male, if not Horse of the Year.

 The victory gives Shared Belief a fees-paid berth to the Breeders' cup Classic through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In programand secured his role  as favorite for the 1 1/4-mile race here on Nov. 1, but the tactics of this race likely will reverberate for a while.

.Mike Smith, who rode Shared Belief, is normally a placid individual, but he could barely contain his contempt after the race.

 “They tried to beat him, and they still didn’t get it done,” Smith said. “I didn’t want that hard a race for him. He’s so talented. Things like that can make a good horse even better.

 “I believe if you want to press the pace or take me out a little bit, okay. But doing it at all costs just to get me beat isn’t the way it should be done. It was to the extreme. I thought it was ridiculous. You just don’t do that.”

 Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains and is a co-owner of Shared Belief, said, “We’re all big boys out here” when asked his reaction to the tactics employed by Sky Kingdom and Espinoza.

 “It will help prepare him for the Breeders’ Cup,” Hollendorfer said. “That race will be tougher, so we’ll need to be tougher, too.”

 Fed Biz, starting from the inside, went for the lead, with Sky Kingdom alongside him, and Shared Belief three lanes wide heading into the first turn. Fed Biz hugged the rail, but Sky Kingdom kept drifting wider and wider, eventually carrying Shared Belief to the middle of the track by the time the runners turned into the backstretch.

 As the field neared the far turn, Sky Kingdom again drifted wide, causing Shared Belief to end up at least five lanes wide. Smith finally cleared Sky Kingdom, ducked in to briefly save ground three lanes wide, and then came out anew to go after Fed Biz.

 Smith in the prior race had taken a tumble when Moulin de Mougin fell entering the stretch of the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive.

 “I’m glad I wasn’t seriously injured and was able to ride,” he said.

 This was the first start for Shared Belief at Santa Anita, where he injured a foot while training earlier this year, necessitating a lengthy layoff that caused him to miss the Triple Crown. Hollendorfer said that early on in the race, he was concerned Shared Belief was not getting a hold of the surface.

Despite all that was stacked against him, Shared Belief, 3, ran his record to a perfect 7 for 7. He earned a first prize of $180,000 to bring his career total to more than $1.55 million. The majority owner of Shared Belief is sportscaster Jim Rome.

 This was the second straight Grade 1 win for Shared Belief, both against older horses. He captured the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in his prior start. Because of his stellar record, he was the heavy favorite in the Awesome Again, and had several hundred thousand dollars bet to show on him.

 Shared Belief has four wins this year to go along with the three he earned last year, when he captured the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. If he can add the BC Classic on Nov. 1, he likely will earn two more year-end championships, Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male.

 But first he has to give the police a report.

 

Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Bayern won't get an easy lead in the big one, Baffert just insured a fast early pace, I liked Bayern a lot, but now they will all press him for as far as he can go pushed, whitch is about one and one sixteenth miles, than we will find out who wears the big boy pants. I wonder how Espinosa will ride CC? Scared, I hope!!!
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Come on everyone, some of you sound like SB got clobbered, taken up sharply, checked, crowded, and a lot more. He was taken wide, wider then anyone in the race. Yes it was a dirty move by Victor, instructed by Baffert no doubt. But the horse came out of the race blowing, that's about it we all hope. We will see him again next month. Its not like he raced against a star studded field either. By the way , Bayern will not get beat in the Classic and SB will taste defeat......
mike More than 1 year ago
Put the pipe down. Bayern can't get the 10f. You will see the same Bayern as in the Travers. Remember the Travers,how did he do?
Scott Kromer More than 1 year ago
shared belief seems to like synthetic a lot more than dirt...although his dirt effort still will probably be good enough for the field he will be facing in the classic..feel like not only tonalist is a Belmont specialist, but that effort in the gold cup will take a lot out of him
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Will Shared Belief "bounce" that is the question we all need to figure out on 11/01/14.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Bounce ? How the heck is that going to happen, he is 7 for 7.......
mike More than 1 year ago
Really? Did you see the race and what it took out of him to win?
mikey More than 1 year ago
All those grade 1's and not even 20.000 show up.S.A. put on a great show with some top horses and no one cares.Shame the days of going to the track is down to a handfull of days.
FRED More than 1 year ago
The owner should have recourse against the jockey. If the owners allow Espinosa to ever ride another one of their horses then you know they were in on the deal.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
That race took the energy of 2 races from him. Good luck betting him BC Saturday. However, IF he does win, he is catapulted to super horse.
Rob Nokes More than 1 year ago
Those of you on this thread may recall I said it after the race; 7 Days and $1,000 fine for not riding his mount to win. He did a disservice to the owners and bettors of his mount. It was the right call by the Stewards.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey, Jay, your bias is showing.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
Bias?????? No when California Chrome runs out in the Classic that Shared Belief wins he would have been OUT of the money in 3 straight and SB would have beaten older horses THREE times...so PLEASE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fyi-Espinoza has been suspended. I hope you haters are happy, but I've seen worse infractions ignored. Bad luck is sure following CC since his Belmont run where all the riders went after Victor, blocking him on the rail just like the Penn Derby. No outcries there. -JG
Diane Hain More than 1 year ago
How about you actually read the rules of racing before you next so bravely talk about imagined "worse" infractions while hiding your identity?
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
It's not about rules . It's about the selective application of the rules by the officials.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So true. You never know which side of the fence they are on. Selective is spot on.
Diane Hain More than 1 year ago
It is about rules. If you actually read the rules of racing you would know none of them were broken in the PA Derby.