Santa Anita Experience Can't Hurt Shared Belief

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How much will recent experience at Santa Anita Park help undefeated Shared Belief in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)?

It can’t hurt. That would be my quick assessment.

Sure the sample size is too small but what fun would a look back be if we didn’t think it meant a little something? In the past seven Breeders’ Cup Classics contested at Santa Anita Park, a series of years that saw the track move from dirt to synthetic and back to dirt again, four of the winners prepped in races at Santa Anita; although one of those winners prepped on turf.

Four of seven may not seem like many but it picks up a bit more relevance considering that only 18 of the 81 starters in those years prepped at Santa Anita. So while only 22% of the Classic starters in the seven previous Santa Anita years, 1986, 1993, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2013 prepped at the Arcadia track, they accounted for 57% of the winners.

And of those four winners, Mucho Macho Man last year, Zenyatta in 2009, Pleasantly Perfect in 2003, and Skywalker in 1986, only Zenyatta was favored. Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) winner Shared Belief, along with other starters from that race, will try to join these four.

Skywalker in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Anne M. Eberhardt Photo - Order Photo

Let’s look back at the prep races of the previous four.

East Coast-based trainer Kathy Ritvo shipped Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Mucho Macho Man to Southern California early last year and the strategy paid off as the 4-1 son of Macho Uno won the Awesome Again by 4 ¼ lengths before just holding off Will Take Charge in the Classic. In 2012 Mucho Macho Man did not prep in Southern California. He entered the Classic off a narrow runner-up finish behind To Honor and Serve in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course before finishing a close second to Fort Larned in the Classic.

Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Anne M. Eberhardt Photo - Order Photo

Jerry and Ann Moss’s Zenyatta prepped for her memorable win against males in the 2009 Classic on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita with a clear victory in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (gr. I) there four weeks before her historic win.

Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Anne M. Eberhardt Photo - Order Photo

Diamod A Racing Corporation’s Pleasantly Perfect won the Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), now called the Awesome Again, three weeks before his upset win in the Classic at 14-1 odds. The victory capped a day of four Breeders’ Cup wins for Southern California-based trainer Richard Mandella.

Skywalker won the 1986 Classic at odds of 10-1 after prepping four weeks earlier with a runner-up finish in the Col. F. W. Koester H. on the Santa Anita turf. Oak Cliff Stable’s Skywalker had previously run on the Santa Anita dirt though, taking the 1985 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in one of his four previous main-track starts there.

None of the other three Classic winners at Santa Anita previously started at the track. In fact, Raven’s Pass (2008) and Arcangues (1993) made their first U.S. starts in the Classic.

Wrapping Up

The Challenge races will go out with a bang with 15 “Win and You’re In,” events from Oct. 3-9, with Keeneland leading the way with eight races.

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