Improbable returns a winner of Del Mar's Shared Belief Stakes

August 25, 2019 08:28pm
Improbable returns a winner of Del Mar's Shared Belief Stakes
Photo: Benoit

Improbable returned to the races much the best in Sunday’s $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes, putting forth the type of performance that could lead him back to the Grade 1 level.

Off since finishing sixth as the Preakness Stakes favorite, the 3-year-old son of City Zip looked keen to go early in Del Mar’s feature, and that’s what he did once jockey Drayden Van Dyke loosened his grip into the far turn.

Lieutenant Dan, a 10-1 longshot in the field of four, dropped out with a quarter mile to go, and previously unbeaten King Jack chased to no avail for second. Street Class rounded out the running order.

Bob Baffert made one notable change for the Shared Belief, putting blinkers back on Improbable for the first time since he finished a narrow second to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby (G1) -- but also acted up at the gate, wasting precious energy in a final Triple Crown prep.

"It's kind of give and take, but he had a bigger blinker on today," Van Dyke said after juggling how much to hold back his mount early. "Bob said he might cut (the blinkers) back a little bit. He was a little bit aggressive in that first turn. That's all right when they keep going."

“It took him a little while to come back and get used to this track," Baffert added. "I still thought, even after his last work, that he wasn’t quite ready. But his class carried him. ”

Improbable’s final time for the mile was 1:37.53 -- he didn't finish up especially strong having run rank early -- but there's all the reason to improve second off the layoff in a spot like the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing.

Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Starlight Racing, Improbable, a Grade 1 winner at age 2, made the Shared Belief his first victory of the season. He was also second in Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes (G2) and the Arkansas Derby before placed fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Van Dyke, who rode Improbable throughout an undefeated juvenile campaign, originally lost the mount after a wide trip in the Rebel.

"He's always been a really really nice horse," the jockey said. "I'm just happy to get another chance on him."

Formerly known as the El Cajon, the Shared Belief Stakes, named for the late champion, has in recent years vaulted 3-year-olds on to bigger things, namely its 2016 winner Accelerate and 2017's Battle of Midway, both future Breeders' Cup winners.


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