Photo: Melanie Martines
And so the legend of Shared Belief grows.
Questions asked: How will the champion juvenile of 2013 handle his first try on dirt? Can a simple allowance sprint at Golden Gate really be enough to have Shared Belief ready to handle graded stakes winners going two turns? Can the undefeated colt continue to dominate like he did at two, now well into his three-year-old season? Questions answered: Yes, it appears so, and boy did he ever. Using the Grade 2, $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby as his own personal equine playground, Shared Belief romped home the easiest kind of winner Saturday at Los Alamitos.
The inaugural Los Alamitos Derby, formerly known as the Swaps Stakes while run at Hollywood Park, is the richest race of the new thoroughbred offering of the Orange County oval. Attracting a number of solid sophomores like Candy Boy, Top Fortitude, and Can the Man, it was thought to be a legitimate test to see if Shared Belief was going to be more than just a juvenile star. If this was a test, the gelded son of Candy Ride aced it.
Owned by a partnership led by sports radio and television personality Jim Rome and his Jungle Racing, and trained by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief showed good energy right out of the starting gate under another Hall of Famer, Mike Smith. He pressed the pace of the graded stakes winning Can the Man from the outside through early fractions of :23.54 and :47.53. While second choice Candy Boy moved up into contention on the outside, Smith sat chilly on Shared Belief into the far turn.
Looking every bit the champion, Shared Belief waited for his cue and pounced on Can the Man before the field hit the stretch. Candy Boy followed and looked like he might give the unbeaten 7-10 favorite a race, but Shared Belief did as he has done in each of his starts to date, sprinting clear with ease. Final time for the nine furlongs was a sharp 1:47.01, as Shared Belief coasted to the wire a 4 1/4-length winner. Candy Boy was no match for the winner, but ran on, and finished much the best of the rest, with Tonito M. finishing a distant third.
For Candy Boy it was another solid effort while making his first start since a troubled trip 13th place finish in the Kentucky Derby May 3 at Churchill Downs. He will have to fade into the sunset, much like he did in last fall’s Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, because this story is all about the other son of Candy Ride, Shared Belief.
A perfect 5-for-5 lifetime, Shared Belief earned his third graded stakes of his career with today’s victory. More importantly, though, with plenty of big races ahead, and the dirt question answered, his future could not look any brighter.
All doors are now wide open for the impressive champion, including a sizeable bonus that began today. As the winner of the Los Alamitos Derby, Shared Belief is now eligible for a cool million dollar cherry if he can go on to victories in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic August 24 at Del Mar and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic November 1 at Santa Anita.