Shared Belief upends California Chrome in San Antonio Invitational
The Beliefers took this round from the Chromies on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Shared Belief made his 4-year-old debut a dazzling one, swallowing Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome in the lane and going on to an easy victory in the San Antonio Invitational.
The bettors had this one nailed as they sent Shared Belief, ridden by Mike Smith, off as the even-money favorite. California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinioza finished second as the 7-5 second choice. Hoppertunity was third.
California Chrome and Shared Belief each broke sharply from the starting gate. From there, they sat second and third, respectively, until California Chrome moved to the lead on the turn. Shared Belief followed and Smith had him on cruise control as he rolled by on the way to the wire.
"Great race," Shared Belief's trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "I am very grateful to win.
"In the big race, I would rather have Mike than anybody. He timed it perfectly down the lane.
Shared Belief paid $4.20 to win. The exacta of Shared Belief and California Chrome returned $7.60 for $2. Time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48 2/5.
"I thought they both ran a great race," Art Sherman, California Chrome's trainer said. "Jerry's horse was the best today.
"It would be nice to hook up again somewhere down the line."
Before the race, Sherman had hinted California Chrome was not at his peak, saying on the Jockey Club on FOX show, "I wanted to get a little more speed into him. He's as good as we can get him right now."
Where and when that is definitely is a question mark. California Chrome could head for the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race. He also has lost four straight races on a dirt surface.
Shared Belief, meanwhile, is ticketed for The Big 'Cap at Santa Anita next month.
Shared Belief, who is now considered an older horse at 4, has beaten older horses five times in his career.
Six days removed from the Super Bowl, horse racing had its Super Saturday ... and it was only February.
The pair had met in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a race that left everyone dismayed after a start that saw eventual winner Bayern cut across horses at the start and compromise the chances of the then-undefeated Shared Belief, who is owned in part by sports personality Jim Rome.
Shared Belief found his winning ways again after the Breeders' Cup Classic, taking the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on the day after Christmas.
California Chrome dealt Shared Belief another "loss," this one off the track. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was named Horse of the Year for 2014 last month.
After winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown, California Chrome had trouble finding the winner's circle again ... until he tried the turf and was an absolute giant in rolling to victory in the Hollywood Derby at Los Alamitos in late November.
The pair then were prepped and primed for Saturday's showdown.
Earlier in the card, Dortmund put on a stirring display of heart, coming back to defeat Firing Line in what amounted to a two-horse race in the Robert B. Lewis for 3-year-olds.
Dortmund appeared beaten by Firing Line, who was ridden by Gary Stevens, in the stretch. Firing Line took a lead over Dortmund in the lane but the unbeaten Dortmund, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, battled back and was in front at the wire.
In another 3-year-old prep on the road to the Kentucky Derby, The well-named Far From Over made a remarkable recovery to win the $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.
It appeared to be over when Far From Over stumbled badly at the start. He lagged far behind the pack, seemingly running out the string in the Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds.
But Far From Over and jockey Manuel Franco refused to quit. Far From Over made a bold inside move on the final turn and angled off the fence in the deep stretch for a 1 3/4-length victory over 1-2 favorite El Kabeir. Classy Class was third.
''He had a bad step coming out of the gate,'' Franco said. ''The game plan changed after that. I just let him go however he wanted to go comfortably.''
It was Franco's first graded stakes victory.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Far From Over improved to 2 for 2 with both victories coming at Aqueduct. He won his debut on Dec. 12 before stepping up to capture his first stakes appearance.
Far From Over paid $14.40, $4.20 and $2.60. El Kabeir returned $2.50 and $2.10, and Classy Class paid $2.40 to show.
In the $500,000 Donn Handicap for older horses at Gulfstream Park, Constitution, trained by Todd Pletcher, denied Lea, trained by Bill Mott, of consecutive victories in the race.
Congrats to all connections of Shared Belief! Both Chrome and Shared Belief brought their A game today. What a race! pic.twitter.com/MEm4LhN8FV— Britney Eurton (@BritneyEurton) February 8, 2015
The Associated Press contributed to this report.