09/25/2014 12:59PM

Shared Belief at top of his game for Awesome Again

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Benoit & Associates
Shared Belief trains on Tapeta at Golden Gate, but appeared to handle the Santa Anita dirt just fine over the last few days.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Thursday marked the first time in months since Shared Belief had set foot on the track at Santa Anita. The last time he was here, soon after the new year, he developed hoof problems that necessitated scrapping a spring campaign and, with it, the Triple Crown.

But eight months, three races, and one re-grown hoof later, Shared Belief is back at Santa Anita, and he appeared to effortlessly float over the track Thursday morning, giving every indication that he will be his usual formidable presence in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

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“He does reach out a lot more on dirt,” Alex Solis II, one of his co-owners, remarked as Shared Belief galloped through the lane.

Shared Belief has been training regularly at Golden Gate Fields, which has a synthetic Tapeta surface. In both his last two wins, the Los Alamitos Derby and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, he was sent by van the week of the race to those tracks, then immediately went back north to train on a surface that obviously has helped him thrive. He arrived at Santa Anita on Wednesday for the Awesome Again, and went to the track Thursday.

Prior to galloping, Shared Belief schooled at the gate, and then after his gallop, he made a couple of trips around the walking ring in the company of a stable pony, the former racehorse Bench Points.

Other than that hoof issue back in January, Shared Belief has done nothing wrong. He won all three of his starts last year to claim the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male, and he has won all three of his starts this year, positioning him to be champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year if he can sweep the Awesome Again and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, also at Santa Anita, Nov. 1.

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To win the 1 1/8-mile Awesome Again, Shared Belief will have to outrun seven others, including local stakes winners Fed Biz, Sky Kingdom, and Majestic Harbor. A wild card is Mystery Train, who has blazing early speed and is returning to dirt after fading on Polytrack in the Pacific Classic, in which he tried unsuccessfully to run with the now-retired Game On Dude.

The Awesome Again, for 3-year-olds and older, is the final local prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. On Saturday, it is one of five Grade 1, $300,000 races at Santa Anita that each offers a fees-paid berth to its respective Breeders’ Cup race through the Win and You’re In program.

The Awesome Again is the eighth race on an 11-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific. The first Grade 1 race of the day is race 5, the Zenyatta, featuring Beholder, the defending winner of both that race and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Following the Zenyatta, in order, are the FrontRunner for 2-year-olds, the Rodeo Drive for female grass runners, and the Chandelier for 2-year-old fillies.

NBCSN will show the FrontRunner, Rodeo Drive, and Awesome Again live during a 2 1/2-hour telecast, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Pacific, which also includes live coverage of the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Shared Belief (Last 3 Beyers: 115-104-96)

◗ He has won all his races by at least 2 3/4 lengths (the margin of the Pacific Classic) or more.

◗ He has been able to work out trips in all his starts, even last time, when he got off to an awkward start and was in traffic trouble heading into the far turn.

◗ His acceleration in the Pacific Classic impressed rival trainer Bob Baffert. “He’s not one-dimensional,” Baffert said. “When they push the button, he gets to the other horses in a hurry.”

◗ He received six pounds (124-118) from his elders under the weight-for-age conditions of the Pacific Classic. In this race, he gets three pounds (124-121) from Majestic Harbor and Mystery Train, but must give weight to everyone else.

◗ His only previous dirt race was the Los Alamitos Derby, but he did win twice last fall at Hollywood Park on Cushion Track, which, for a synthetic surface, closely approximated dirt.

Fed Biz (Last 3 Beyers: 99-104-83)

◗ He has won going 1 1/16 miles, and is a terror between seven furlongs and one mile, and now will try to extend his range to 1 1/8 miles, a distance at which he finished third the lone time he tried it.

“I want to give him a chance stretching him out,” said Baffert, his trainer. “He’s ready to stretch out in a race like this.”

Mystery Train (Beyer: 48)

◗ He flopped in the Pacific Classic, but that was his first start on synthetic.

◗ He set fast fractions and kept going in dirt races in his native Argentina, and could prove an elusive target here.

B More than 1 year ago
Why is it that all of today's California's races are free to read, but none of New York's are?!
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOLOL! The east coast has a denser readership per square mile? Hilarious
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Not to mention that there are more race tracks per square mile also
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
Russell. I was fortunate enough to be at Belmont that great day, and witness, my first ever Triple crown Winner. I was a thoroughbred owner at the time, and that feat made it that more exciting. Still have the program, an uncashed two dollar win ticket, and the racing form. What a golden memory that will last a lifetime.
B More than 1 year ago
Well, I did see Secretariat and I don't believe that at his best I have ever seen a horse who could beat him. It took me until Slew's 4 year old career to finally acknowledge him as a great horse. His losing performance in the JCGC, in which Affirmed's saddle slipped instantly eliminating him, is among the greatest performances I've ever witnessed. I wasn't impressed by him as a three year old and though he was a lucky TC winner facing terrible fields, but again, he eventually proved himself to me. Don't even get me started on Affirmed & Alydar. Two great horses of near equal talent and I was in the Alydar camp. Broke my heart on Belmont Day. I was there, and nearly killed due to an unruly crowd, and now that the pain has subsided, it is probably the most exciting race I have ever witnessed. I was at Secretariat's Belmont too, but as amazing as it was, the 1978 running was the best. Everyone mentioned here were all great horses. Add in Spectacular Bid, Ruffian and Forego and you have a decade for the ages. There have been some fine horses since then, but we have experienced nothing quite like that era ever since.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
He gives every indication of possible greatness, I am really high on this guy. I think he may be better than his daddy was, and Candy Ride's Pacific Classic performance was one of the best in history, and SB's wasn't too shabby either. The next two races will define this horse's greatness IMHO; of course I feel Seattle Slew and Swaps were both better runners than Secretariat, and Slew was one of the greatest sires in history. Shared Belief has already outrun BC Classic winners and older proven runners and he hasn't been pushed by riders or other horses. When he is asked for go, it's afterburner time. Horse racing needs a horse for the ages, it gives us something to look forward to, like when Zenyatta was on her run of undefeatedness.
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
Flew to LA in Dec 13 for a farewell to Hollywood Park.Watched Shared Belief destroy .the Hollywood Futurity field .What acceleration!.Everyone talks about this years accomplishments,I was sold on him then.The minor injury that kept him out of the 3 year old classics may have been a blessing in disguise as this Gelding could be fun to watch a few more years .The nice colts cough and get retired to stud.
Kevin Tucker More than 1 year ago
Ive been in love with this horse since the hollywood prevue. He took off at the top of the stretch in an instant when asked. All of the sudden he was 6 clear.
Matt D. More than 1 year ago
Jim, I'm a huge fan of Shared Belief too but when did he "already outrun BC Classic winners"? Are you talking about speed figures?
L. More than 1 year ago
When he wins outside of CA then we'll talk. Doesn't matter if he wins the next two races, considering they're majorly depleted of top horses, he hasn't done anything outside of CA to prove he's great. I wish people would stop talking up horses with so few starts. Any horse can remain unbeaten if he's babied enough.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
someone needs a hug.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Actually very few horses EVER win 3 in a row . Even fewer win their first 3 and almost NONE stay undefeated through 4 races . You can look that up .... Or you can just continue to spout BS and show the world what you don't know. Any shmo can blabber on if they are babied enough .
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Shared Belief is a very good horse; he might be one of the ones next year. But this year, so far he has won an allowance race at 6 furlongs at Golden Gate, a Grade 2 at the Los Alamitos' reconstructed bullring, and a Grade I on the Del Mar Polytrack/synthetic. That is not exactly HOY campaign. California Chrome danced all the dances, winning so far 3 Grade Is against arguably tougher horses, though 3-year olds. This year's older male and male turf divisions are subpar. Maybe the DRF groupthink will now rally around the one they want. Is it to punish the owners of C.C. because one of the owners made critical comments about the East Coast-based Triple Crown. But a few already are kicking into their hype mode, more cheerleading than based on performance. Even if Shared Belief wins the Awesome Again and Classic it is still not a given he should be HOY. He will have then won 3 Grade Is, the same as C.C. Who has had the tougher road/campaign. California Chrome; with the grueling Triple Crown that few now even bother to run in all 3 races. S.B. has been able to race once every few months, picking and choosing where to run, running a slim number of races in the process. C.C. HOY but will take S.B. over the overrated East Coast based HOY the last 2 years.
Bradley Loveless More than 1 year ago
you are an intelligent person that really doenst know what your talking about.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Am not sure what you refer to. Maybe you want to give a sideways positive.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Richard, I appreciate your opinion. I've read other comments from you and I get it...you are well thought out and obviously a CC fan. Ironically I loved and bet CC in the Derby as well, and loved him in the Preakness. But, I need to point out where I believe you lost your objectivity. You act like CC was the best for the entire year and SB just has only been sharp for a short time. This is incorrect. CC was great for about 4 months. He did win great races when he was sharp and is a very nice horse. SB has now been the best 3 year old for about 3 months. SB has beaten older horses, which CC hasn't. Oh, you say the Pacific Classic was weak...uh, look at those pp again. Game on Dude and others in an 11 horse field wasn't weak. And, by the way, what the heck does the surface take away or add to a horses resume...that's just silly. CD, SA before and even Pim all have different surfaces too. Anyway, IF SB and I do say IF, because we all know anything can happen.. IF SB does come out of the Awesome Again stakes healthy and if SB wins the BC Classic..then he absolutely should be HOY. And, against your point thinking CC was better longer of the year....look at the time line...SB will have been better longer, not CC. Now, the cool thing about the BC Classic...is , by design, it's put up or shut up. I truly hope CC does run better in the Classic....he probably will...and who knows if an older horse will suddenly peak and beat all these 3 year olds. I , personally think SB will win out. But, even you Richard have to admit if he wins the BC Classic and beats CC in that race he deserves 3 year old Champ for sure. Now, if CC takes it to him, then I'll be the first to give accolades to you and CC. But, CC, needs to step it up..this open company races are HARDER than restricted 3 year old races. Time to see who is best.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Frank, I don't have a problem with much of what you say. In many ways we are on the same page. But I have been critical of the Eclipse process since the Zenyatta/Rachel Alexandra failures. Even before I never can tell who the East Coast press will anoint each year and rally behind for HOY. In 2009, they coronated R.A. HOY and gave her a free ticket, saying she did not even have to run against Zenyatta in the Breeder's Cup Classic and still will be handed HOY. She sat it out because her handlers at the time said they didn't want to run her on the synthetic, which Santa Anita had then. So R.A. skips the Classic and Zenyatta of course not just wins but demolishes far tougher opponents than R.A. ever faced. But how does the thinking East Coast pundit parlay their wisdom. They downplayed Zenyatta's run because it was on the synthetic. Now when Shared Belief wins the Pacific do they even qualify his win as being on the synthetic. No, because they most likely want to build a case for someone other than C.C. It appears they are not happy that one of C.C.'s owners bad-mouthed the way the Triple Crown is run. And they can't prop up the overrated Wise Dan, who has had the same anemic schedule; like a re-run three years in a row. And R.A. mainly beat three year olds in 2009; she faced lack luster older males and never regained form after the Woodward. C.C. for 4 months was pitted against the best 3-year olds; he ran an old school campaign. I wouldn't underplay the effort involved in running in each of the 3 Triple Crown races. Hopefully running in all three did not cause him to blow a fuse. And then S. B. comes into the picture. Missing the grueling campaign and picking up the pieces against tired or retired horses. How many were racing at the beginning of this year and are still running or not retired or injured. Stamina should be rewarded. When Tonalist won, I didn't have a problem with the point that they parachuted him in for that one race, against horses like C.C. that ran according to the Triple Crown intent, running in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. It appears the Classic either is made to be important one year when the anointers choose to make it; they didn't in 2009, when Zenyatta continued to be undefeated and R.A. wisely chose not to run head on against Z. in the Classic. R.A. would have lost. I agree with you that S. B. is a very good horse; but you can't compare his campaign against C.C;'s. S.B. was injured but that allowed him to be fresh the end of the year. Let's see if C.C. rebounds. If S.B. wins the next two and they give him the HOY over C.C. that will be another inconsistent piece in the Eclipse voting. All of a sudden the pundits decide to make the Classic the decider. Mostly it appears the voting has less to do with the horses and more to do with bias and a handful of influential voters, like the DRF. For years they undercut the achievements of Zenyatta, even though she helped sell their own papers. They may still have the sayso in the HOY but they are further contributing to losing regions of potential fans and betters and buyers of their paper. And S.B. would be a far better HOY than Wise Dan. But don't rule out Wise Dan yet. Should S.B. falter in one of the next two races keep an eye on W.D. See if the anointers then re-rally against their standby HOY: East Coast favorite Wise Dan.
Gunner More than 1 year ago
you can't hate the pathetic
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Well written.. I think you might be right we agree more than not. You are 100% correct on the RA , Zenyatta thing. I was upset over that as well. Ok, so for sure it'll be fun to see what happens. It's all good. I'm just sitting down right now with my DRF for Saturdays races.....and I have to admit, just reading it will brighten my day. Best of luck to you.
Rick_Buck More than 1 year ago
Cadena, you have not much talent for judging horses. I'd tell you why but you aren't likely to understand it.
B More than 1 year ago
I really like Chrome, but there is no way on earth SB is going to lose 3 year old honors and HOY if he wins BC Classic especially while beating Chrome in the process. If either Chrome or SB win the Classic, they are HOY. Period. If they both should lose it, I think Chrome might still have a shot of at least taking 3 year old honors as the Derby & the Preakness winner rarely loses being named the best. Under that last scenario, I don't know who would win HOY, though I guess WD is waiting in the background yet again.
James Pugliese More than 1 year ago
I have always thought highly of this horse, I believe he is better than California Chrome!
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
No mystery about the train, another argentine candidate for the alpo mill.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Say it LOUDER!!!
Lynn Spencer More than 1 year ago
U2...
Lynn Spencer More than 1 year ago
Sick in the head statement...Period...
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
what you prefer tar tar?
Jeff Gasior More than 1 year ago
he wont even be cranked for this race, whether he wins or not, the big prize is the classic, has been handled deftly all year long, and Jerry wont disappoint, this horse, unless he has a heart attack, wins the classic for fun, too good and not enough good competition left.
mike More than 1 year ago
He's not winning the Classic,before you tell me Chrome is done will say off a layoff and losing a prep isn't the end of his career.
sk More than 1 year ago
Mike , You may be right ? Who are contenders to WIN classic ? Why CC did not run Awasome Again in SA and going to PA to get cheap money ? My wild guess is CC not running in SA because owners know CC can not beat shared belief and handover HOY before classic.
Louie Arce More than 1 year ago
Hopefully more people think like you Jeff and SB takes lots of $. He is not winning the Classic if It's My Lucky day is in the field.
pablo More than 1 year ago
Your rite.. SharedB wins classic
NickelN58 More than 1 year ago
He should crush his rivals! There's absolutely no competition for him. Hopefully SA dirt won't be a problem. That's just my opinion.