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Shared Belief starts season in Malibu
ARCADIA, Calif. – What better way to celebrate the day after Christmas than by opening a gift that keeps on giving?
Santa Anita begins its marathon meet Friday, with top-class gelding Shared Belief the star of the day and favorite for the Grade 1, seven-furlong Malibu Stakes. Bettors will expect Shared Belief to win the Malibu.
“We’ll try to get started on another streak,” trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer said.
Shared Belief suffered his first loss after seven wins to start his career Nov. 1 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a tough-trip fourth which Hollendorfer and jockey Mike Smith are glad to put behind them.
Shared Belief worked a half-mile Monday at Golden Gate Fields, and was scheduled to ship Tuesday to Santa Anita. It’s a trip he is expected to make often.
Shared Belief is stabled at Golden Gate and trains on the synthetic surface there, but his winter starts will be at Santa Anita. Early objectives include the Malibu and $500,000 San Antonio on Feb. 7, a race that also may attract Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.
Bayern and California Chrome are expected to use the San Antonio as a prep race for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28. Meanwhile, Hollendorfer is likely to stay home with Shared Belief.
“I know it’s a big purse and everything, but we like to enjoy the horse here,” he said. “I really don’t think there’s much interest in racing there on our part.”
That makes Shared Belief the early favorite for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7. But first things first. In the Malibu, Shared Belief will shorten to a sprint against nine rivals that includes four trained by Bob Baffert – Midnight Hawk, Chitu, Indianapolis, and Pimpernel. Hollendorfer also entered 2013 Del Mar Futurity winner Tamarando.
Shared Belief is a three-time Grade 1 winner, including two Grade 1’s against older horses. He is the class of the Malibu field, and a speed-figure standout.
The seven-furlong Malibu will be the first time he has sprinted since May. No problem, says Hollendorfer.
“The really good ones can run short and long,” Hollendorfer said. “He’s a good horse, and knowing that he’s really fit, I didn’t have to be real hard on him.”
Smith rides Shared Belief, who starts from post 8 in the 10-horse field that includes Conquest Two Step, Rprettyboyfloyd, Diamond Bachelor, and Frensham
Shared Belief (Last 3 Beyers: 107-101-115)
◗ Shared Belief has won at 1 1/4 miles, but he also can sprint. The cutback in distance is not an issue, Hollendorfer said. “This fits in time-wise, cutting back to seven furlongs,” he said.
“He sprinted really well [early in his career], so I think he can do the seven furlongs very well.”
◗ Hollendorfer, co-owner of Shared Belief along with sports broadcaster Jim Rome and partners, said Shared Belief will go a distance next out. That will likely be in the San Antonio.
◗ Santa Anita linemaker Jon White opened Shared Belief as the 4-5 favorite on the preliminary morning line.
Midnight Hawk (Last 3 Beyers: 82-69-102)
◗ A top 3-year-old early this year, Midnight Hawk has alibis for two losses on the comeback trail. He broke last, rushed, and cracked as the favorite Oct. 31. Second start back, he was not away well, rushed, and cracked again.
◗ A return to dirt, with blinkers off, makes Midnight Hawk a potential upset candidate.
◗ Baffert has turned up the heat in the morning. “I’ve been really bearing down on him, really bearing down,” Baffert said. Midnight Hawk put in bullet works on Dec. 10 and 15, followed by a half-mile blowout Sunday in 47.
◗ He will fire, and should be among the early leaders even with blinkers off.
◗ Midnight Hawk won a Grade 3 in January and placed in four graded stakes afterward before taking summer off. His early-season speed figures suggest he is one of the main threats to Shared Belief.
◗ Victor Espinoza takes over for Smith.
Chitu (Last 3 Beyers: 98-85-103)
◗ Never a flashy work horse, Chitu nonetheless has won 4 of 6 starts and earned $561,000. He wired the field Oct. 31 in the $100,000 Damascus and since then his works have been the same as always.
“You have to force it out of him in the morning,” Baffert said. “But he shows up [in the afternoon].”
◗ Joel Rosario will ride Chitu, expected to be among the pacesetters.
Tamarando (Last 3 Beyers: 79-86-81)
◗ In late 2013, Tamarando was among the top 2-year-olds in California.
◗ Third start back from a layoff, he shortens to the distance of his biggest win and is reunited with Julien Leparoux, who rode the horse to victory in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in 2013.
Tamarando has a shot at this.
i think hollendorfer thinks he has an outside shot for either horse or 3 yr old honors by winning this race. this is a tough test and all chitu has to do is get away from the gate clean and wil take some catching. this race is void of any real speed and chitu will have it his own way. what will make it even easier for chitu is the track supt,on these days the inside is usually paved with gold . im looking at hopefully at least 3/1 on chitu with all the money on shared belief at 3/5. to me this race just looks too easy,chitu goes to the lead and improves his position
This is not nearly as weak a field as Shared Belief defeated earlier this year. I think a lot of people are expecting SB to blow this group away and they may well be in for a surprise. I'm not sure if SB loves this track or surface and then you add that he's facing true sprinters when he's probably better suited for longer distances. I'm not saying he can't prevail, because I do believe he's a very special horse, but this might be a race to consider a couple longer shots: Midnight Hawk - while he won't be a true long shot, he will certainly be longer odds than Shared Belief. If it were 8F's, then I probably wouldn't consider him, but 7F's seems a perfect distance for this very fast individual. Chitu - I think if they sit back a little off the early fractions (which this one has done before), then he could be the one. I really think this guy holds the outcome of the race in his hands to some extent. If they fire to the front, then a real speed dual could ensue ending with both Chitu and Midnight Hawk backing up enough for Shared Belief to go by. If they sit back, then I believe SB will be the one pushing Midnight Hawk and that could be a perfect scenario for Chitu to sneak past those two at the wire. Not matter how you slice it, this is going to be a fun and interesting race! The only thing that could of made it better is if Bayern was running. That combo of speed would have probably produced a track record for the eventual winner.
Go Conquest Two step!
California Chromes people... should take note to what Hollendorfer thinks about Dubai...I would not send my horse there either...I am going to watch a longshot in this race ""Diamond Bachelor"" I do not think he can win but have Notes on him he might hit the board..But I want to see how he runs here
If all these guys can stay sound, it looks like SoCal will have a tremendous handicap division in 2015! Here's looking to that....
SB should be HOTY this year, but he's going to fend for himself against four baffert muggers this time.
I was hoping Hollendorfer and Rome would campaign Shared Belief outside of CA to stick it up CHRB's collective backside for the BC Classic fiasco. I guess I'll have to be content with my own personal boycott of the joke that is California racing. It ain't much I admit, but like withholding your vote it's the only way to register displeasure.
Sounds like a great race that will high light Shared Belief's varied talent. Hopefully,all will come back well and we will get a great race. Sure is a welcome distraction from the blah winter season. I know I'll be in front of the tv this Saturday.
Eagerly anticipating a banner season for Shared Belief I'm confident that Jerry and his excellent crew will crank up the fabulous gelding in search of a Horse of the Year title, something that eluded him in 2014 with that costly loss in the Breeders Cup Classic. Bad racing luck is what I would call that. Hopefully , we can see him for years to come. Good Luck for 2015, and a shoutout to Dan Ward, Jerry's outstanding assistant, who was a protoge of the late, great Bobby Frankel. Probably the best horseman on the backstretch today!