Fond Memories of Shared Belief winning the Malibu

December 27, 2015 02:37pm


The fantastic racing career of Shared Belief was one that should not be forgotten anytime soon. Among his spectacular array of victories, last year’s triumph in the Malibu Stakes might be one that is easily lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t be. In fact, his Grade 1 victory, run one year ago, was one of my favorites.


Many were looking forward to a runaway victory by Shared Belief in the 2014 Malibu. Already a champion at two, and a winner of 7-of-8 going in, the son of Candy Ride was bet down to huge favoritism, despite coming in off his first career loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Of course, that loss came attached to about as bad a run in front of the stands for the first time which a horse can have. Somehow, the classy gelding came back to make a strong run in America’s richest race, ultimately finishing a very good fourth. His many fans were eager to be treated to the gift of seeing Shared Belief return to his winning ways on the day after Christmas.


Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, and owned by a partnership headlined by sports personality, Jim Rome, and his Jungle Racing, Shared Belief was sent to the post as the 1-2 chalk in the field of nine, but the odds had more to do with his earned respect and his popularity, rather than the ease of the assignment. This was a legitimate test. It’s never easy to drop down from a tough ten furlong effort, as the Breeders’ Cup Classic was for him eight weeks before, to face a talented group of sprinters at the demanding trip of seven furlongs, but that is what the dark bay was asked to do in the Malibu.


While it’s always fun to see our racing heroes run off and hide from their competition, and Shared Belief had many of these type of victories, we often learn more about a star runner when they are pushed, and forced to dig down deep displaying their heart on their sleeve. In front of more than 40,000 fans last December 26, that is exactly what Shared Belief was able to do. Giving weight, and between horses for much of the way, the Malibu performance was classy, professional, tractable, determined, and fast, all rolled into one.


I remember hearing the disappointment from some that he only beat the long shot Conquest Two Step by a measured neck, and true enough it was more of a grind, than a romp, but sure enough, the champion and his partner Mike Smith did what they needed to do to get to the wire for another win. If the excellent final time for seven panels of 1:20.69 was not enough to put a stamp of quality on the performance, than the fact that Conquest Two Step came back in his very next start to impressively win the Grade 2 Palos Verdes over the likes of Secret Circle and Wild Dude, surely did.


Despite the narrowness of victory, Shared Belief’s Hall of Fame rider knew full well what his star charge had accomplished. “This race proved what a great horse he is, just by doing what he did,” said Smith. “To run route races, then to come back to seven eighths against top sprinters ... To me, that puts a big feather in his cap and puts him in front for Horse of the Year. I think this put him ahead of the rest.”


We know that a Horse of the Year award was never meant to be for Shared Belief, but in his first two races of 2015, we got to see twice more what a magnificent race horse he was.


Of course, this story has a most unhappy ending. Not only for Shared Belief, but also for his plucky Malibu rival. A few months later, Conquest Two Step broke his leg in a workout, and had to be euthanized after complications from surgery. Before the injury, he looked to be on his way to being one of the finest sprinters in the land.


And Shared Belief was taken from this world only a few weeks ago. The champion still had so many roads yet to travel. Like a cool summer breeze, the life of one of the finest runners of the 21st century arrived to the delight of all, and then it was gone again. All we are left with are the many memories, and for me, the Malibu memory from one year ago, was one of my favorites.


 

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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