Mike Smith: rider was impressed with Shared Belief
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: USA, Sunday
Del Mar: Pacific Classic (Grade 1) 1m2f, AW, 3yo+
SHARED BELIEF (Jerry Hollendorfer/Mike Smith) laid down a fine marker for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a mouthwatering clash with California Chrome when he produced a sparkling performance to beat British challenger Toast Of New York in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sunday.
Now unbeaten in six starts, Shared Belief – part-owned by leading sports radio host Jim Rome – could bid to make up for lost time and prove himself the best three-year-old in the States by meeting Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.
The talented son of Candy Ride’s Triple Crown bid was derailed by a foot injury, but he looked as good as ever when easing to a two-and-three-quarter length success over Toast Of New York, who is trained in Lambourn by Jamie Osborne.
The champion juvenile in the States last year, Shared Belief tracked Toast Of New York in midfield as last year’s Pacific Classic winner Game On Dude took the field along.
He shot clear leaving the back straight, but his two main rivals had the class to cover the move. They came together turning for home, which the stewards took a look at, but Shared Belief was too good and stretched clear for an impressive victory under Smith, who equalled Garrett Gomez’s record of four wins in the Grade 1.
One more start, Hollendorfer said, before the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the plan for Shared Belief, whose clash with west coast rival California Chrome – not seen since finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes and missing the chance to become America’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978 – would be one to saviour.
“We tip our hat to California Chrome because he got in the gate and competed in the Triple Crown races,” said Rome, host of The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio.
“Right now I just want to make sure my buddy Shared Belief comes out of this race all right and is good to go.”
Smith is also looking forward to the match-up, adding: “Amen, what a great day for racing that would be.”
Osborne, meanwhile, will no doubt be pleased with the effort of UAE Derby winner Toast Of New York, who ran with credit under Victor Espinoza. His main target is the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March.
Also on Sunday
Del Mar: Del Mar Mile (Grade 2 hcap) 1m, turf, 3yo+
Smith was also seen to good effect on lightly raced Eddie Read Stakes winner Tom’s Tribute (Jim Cassidy) who took the Del Mar Mile on the card, a contest odds-on favourite Obviously was bidding to win for the third straight time. He could manage only fourth though.
Del Mar: Pat O’Brien Hcap (Grade 2) 7f, AW, 3yo+
Fed Biz was another return winner denied when he was second to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile victor Goldencents (Doug O’Neill/Rafael Bejarano) in the Pat O’Brien.
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