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
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.
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.
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