Champion Shared Belief Lands Classic Spot

After overwhelming rivals in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) in his first stakes start against older horses, Shared Belief appears poised to make a run at history.


Shared Belief Dominated the Pacific Classic - Benoit Photo

The Candy Ride gelding reserved himself a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) with his 2 3/4-length victory in the Pacific Classic, which is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race to the Classic. He joins Bayern as the first two 3-year-olds to win Challenge races to the Classic this season.

Suddenly Shared Belief’s storyline is one of the most interesting going into this year’s Classic where he will try to become the first champion 2-year-old male to win the 1 1/4-mile race.

A top run in the Classic this season by Shared Belief would be special. The only previous 2-year-old champion to place in the Classic at age 3 was Easy Goer, who finished second by a neck to rival Sunday Silence in the 1989 Classic.


Easy Goer finished 2nd to Sunday Silence in the 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic. - Tony Leonard Photo

It is rare for a champion 2-year-old to even start in the Classic as only nine have tried since its 1984 launch. After Easy Goer’s close second, the best finishes have been registered by Lookin At Lucky (2009), Street Sense (2006), Macho Uno (2000), Fly So Free (1990), Forty Niner (1987), and Chief’s Crown (1984), who all finished fourth.

Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing, George Todaro, Jerry Hollendorfer, Alex Solis II, and Jason Litt’s Shared Belief also will try to become the first 3-year-old to sweep the Pacific Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Of the four previous 3-year-olds to win the Pacific Classic, General Challenge finished 10th in the 1999 Classic, a placing Came Home matched in 2002. Best Pal didn’t race in the 1991 Classic and Dullahan opted for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), where he finished ninth.

Still, the Pacific Classic has launched a 3-year-old to the Classic winner’s circle as Tiznow finished second in the 2000 edition before edging Giant’s Causeway in the first of his two Breeders' Cup Classic wins. After the Pacific Classic, Tiznow registered wins in the Super Derby (gr. I) and the Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) before his Classic run.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is leaning toward one more start before the Classic for Shared Belief, who is eligible for a $1 million bonus should he win the Classic thanks to his victories in the Los Alamitos Derby (gr. II) and Pacific Classic.

Shared Belief also finds himself in position to knock dual classic winner California Chrome off as champion 3-year-old male, although a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic would likely be a requirement to secure that title. A Classic win also would put Horse of the Year in play for Shared Belief.

Rightfully so, Triple Crown races carry a lot of weight in the 3-year-old division. The past dozen dual classic winners have been named champion 3-year-old male. The most recent dual classic winner to not receive champion 3-year-old male honors was Preakness (gr. I)-Belmont (gr. I) stakes winner Tabasco Cat in 1994 who lost out to Holy Bull, who won five grade I races that season including wins against older horses in the Metropolitan Handicap and the Woodward Stakes.

 

Stallion news

The first two stallions to have multiple horses earn “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup bids this year are Galileo and Hard Spun.

Galileo boasts Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) winner Tapestry, who punched her ticket to the Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT); and Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) automatic qualifier Australia, who earned that bid with his Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) victory.

READ MORE: Automatic bids by state or country bred

Hard Spun, who finished second to Curlin in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park, has seen his first two 2014 qualifiers secure bids to the Turf in Arlington Million Stakes (gr. IT) winner Hardest Core and Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Big John B.


Hard Spun (right) finished 2nd to Curlin in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic - Eliot J. Schechter Photo

Close Hatches, by First Defence, is the first horse this year to win a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races: the Personal Ensign (gr. I) and Ogden Phipps (gr. I) stakes.

 

Upcoming

After a busy stretch, there’s just one Breeders’ Cup Challenge race this weekend: the Forego Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 30 at Saratoga Race Course. The winner of the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and older will earn a berth in the XpressBet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). The race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network in a 6 p.m. show that also will include the Woodward Stakes (gr. I).

READ MORE: Automatic bids currently earned

 

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