08/24/2014 9:03PM

Shared Belief wins sixth straight with big score in Pacific Classic

Benoit Photo
Shared Belief overcame a rough start to track down nine rivals Sunday in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The debate for champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year just got a whole lot more heated after Shared Belief, in a powerful performance, overcame a bad start and nine rivals to win his first start going 1 1/4 miles while keeping his perfect record intact in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on Sunday at Del Mar.

Shared Belief ($4.40), the favorite, awkwardly brushed the side of the gate at the start but showed the quickness of a running back to get back into the race and knife through a hole on the far turn to secure a striking position. He took over from Toast of New York coming into the lane and went on to prevail by 2 3/4 lengths in 2:00.28 on Polytrack.

He was ridden by Mike Smith, who has had a sensational meeting and capped off a brilliant day in which he won four races and two stakes.

Jockey Victor Espinoza, aboard Toast of New York, stood up briefly in the irons when Shared Belief went by him in upper stretch, which caused the stewards to post the inquiry sign. But after reviewing the videotape, they rightly left the result alone.

Jim Rome, the radio and television sports personality whose Jungle Racing is the majority owner of Shared Belief, said in the winner’s circle that the greatest two words he heard were track announcer Trevor Denman saying, “No change.”

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Toast of New York was the only other 3-year-old in the race, so the youngsters finished one-two. He finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of the third-place Imperative.

Game On Dude, the defending race winner, tired to finish fourth, a neck behind Imperative, after being pressured by the longshot Mystery Train through fractions of 22.49 seconds, 45.75, and 1:10.08 for the first six furlongs.

Irish Surf was fifth and was followed, in order, by Majestic Harbor, Ice Cream Truck, You Know I Know, Mystery Train, and Clubhouse Ride. Frac Daddy was scratched Saturday.

Mystery Train finished more than 37 lengths behind Game On Dude, underscoring how well Game On Dude ran despite the blazing fractions.

But Shared Belief did not have it easy, either, and his versatility and adaptability were key factors in his victory.

“He bounced off the gate,” said Smith, who chose Shared Belief over Game On Dude for this race. “Not only is he running against the toughest bunch he’s ever faced, but now he’s given them a head start.”

Smith hadn’t planned on being that far back, he said, but he followed Toast of New York the early part of the race because he knew that horse “was proven on synthetic,” referring to his victory in the United Arab Emirates Derby in March.

“The question was would I have the horse when I needed him,” Smith said. “I had more.”

Shared Belief sliced between runners on the far turn like LeSean McCoy, then emerged in the clear, three paths wide, with Game On Dude inside and Toast of New York between them. After straightening away in the lane, he left them and drew off.

“All along, we never knew how good he was because he was winning those races with ease,” Smith said. “You hope they’ll continue to go forward. But to give them four lengths at the start and win like that was impressive.”

Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Shared Belief and is one of the co-owners of the horse, said what impressed him most Sunday was that Shared Belief came from well off the pace.

“He showed another dimension,” Hollendorfer said.

Asked if Shared Belief was the best horse he’s trained, Hollendorfer said, “I wouldn’t want to say. But he’s getting close.”

Shared Belief has now won all six of his starts. He won three races last year, including the Cash Call Futurity, which secured for him the Eclipse Award as champion male 2-year-old.

Shared Belief entered this year as one of the leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby, but a foot bruise and subsequent quarter crack knocked him out of training early in the year. Since returning to racing in May, he has won all three of his races.

Shared Belief is eligible for a $1 million bonus, the Bolton Challenge, new this year for a horse who can sweep the Los Alamitos Derby, Pacific Classic, and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Shared Belief is two-thirds of the way there.

The Pacific Classic offered a fees-paid berth to the Nov. 1 BC Classic through the Win and You’re In program. Hollendorfer said he envisioned one more start for Shared Belief before the BC Classic.

If Shared Belief stays on his present course and Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome makes a successful comeback next month in the Pennsylvania Derby, the BC Classic would likely decide Horse of the Year – as well as who is the best 3-year-old in California.

Bob Lee More than 1 year ago
There are two separate debates going on here that are IMO incorrectly being folded into one. 1) Who is likely to win the eclipse award for three-year-old male? Most likely and appropriately CC based on his body of work over the entire year. 2) Who is currently the "best" three-year-old male? That's SB, hands down.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Maybe "hottest three year old" might be more apropos. The best will be determined in the BC Classic. I think....
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Re: Pacific Classic. Did the owners of Argentinian import Mystery Train find out what they needed to find out about their horse? PS: I saw a couple of videos in Argentina where Mystery Train won "impressively " against Argentinian competition.
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
Why penn derby?Should stay west and run in statebred stakes and wait for classic.
Mel More than 1 year ago
It is called money. Because they won a TC race Penn is paying a bonus of 100 grand each to owner and trainer for showing up. It is a million dollar race and the competition should be light. Sounds like a no brainer to me
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Shared Belief.....not proven on a traditional dirt course California Chrome....proven. I don't know how much of you are familiar with the track and how it plays at Parx but let me say this, if Chrome makes the trip, that track plays PRECISELY to his tactics. He can run the exact same way he did at CD and Pimlico and be free as a bird at the top of the stretch. Hopefully speedballs like Bayern and/or Social Inclusion show up to set it up for him.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Don't tell me "but how about Los Alamitos"? I will punch you.
mike More than 1 year ago
You won't punch anyone.
Darrell Peck More than 1 year ago
Los Alamitos is a dirt track and he ran on the new track not the bull horn short track. DRF ranks S.B. as the best three year old and I agree.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
We are in agreement, last time I checked, California Chrome won the Derby and Preakness I guess that does count for anything unless you are a horse based on the east coast
mike More than 1 year ago
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Great, now get him off this ridiculous synthetic nonsense that proves nothing and get him in some dirt and see what you have.
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
If this guy makes it to the starting gate Breeders Cup Classic ,game over for the rest.Future him now and pray he makes it soundly to the race.This guy has an incredible turn of foot.1 1/4 is no problemo.Like many of the greats,surface isn't an issue.I saw his Hollywood Futurity win and what a stride.The bullseye is on his back now.As a fan like most on this site,The best thing is he's a gelding like Game On Dude.Which means, maybe running for more than a year and a half.
mike More than 1 year ago
He's very good,but don't think he can beat Chrome.
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
They could meet in the race that use to be the Goodwood.Hopefully they make it to the Classic.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
They install a synthetic track at Santa Anita?
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
He won on Los Alamitos dirt very impressively.Candy Ride sired Sydney's Candy who loved dirt and grass.He's now won on poly,cushion,tapeta,and dirt.
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
Mark ,Where are you?
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
as we praise Shared Belief for his awesome run let's also give Mike Smith some credit; he held him off that pace by just the right distance, let him go at the right moment and did not needlessly beat him up. Yes there was the bumping of TONY and he looked to be clear when he came in and there was no doubt he would have won. (now if TONY had finished 3rd would SB have come down for costing him a placing??!!) My point -there is reason why so many big name trainers want Smith for their best rides.
Darrell Peck More than 1 year ago
Man I wish they ran the K.D. later in the year as this three year old is the best horse in America and he's beating older horses as a three year old. Love his performance and watch him win Horse of the Year.
mike More than 1 year ago
Lucky they didn't Darrell cause you would be crying, the result wouldn't change.
Darrell Peck More than 1 year ago
I'd like to see C.C. beat older horses like he just did.
mike More than 1 year ago
Don't worry you will see it in Nov.
Barry Taylor More than 1 year ago
If Bob really wants GOD to retire with a Breeders Cup win, I think he should seriously consider the Dirt mile. I think he would be a beast going a mile.
mike More than 1 year ago
Bob is all about Bob. A real tool.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
Maybe do what Fred Hooper did with Precisionist.Freshen him and run him in the Breeders Cup Sprint.My guess is they'll see what he does in the Awesome Again,then make a choice between the Classic and the Mile.