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The Hype Was Worth It

Posted by on 2/9/2015 8:40:10 PM

Often times coming up to a big prize fight, or the Super Bowl, or even the NBA Finals, the hype can be overwhelming and really has no chance of rising to the occasion but the San Antonio Stakes Saturday at Santa Anita rose to the occasion and more.

As the gates opened, the 4th betting choice Alfa Bird at 19-1 was sent along on the lead. He set fractions of :23.65 and :47.87 before California Chrome took over after 6 furlongs in 1:12.49. Chrome still had the lead with a furlong to go after a mile in 1:36.45 but he just could not keep it together.

Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith was aboard Shared Belief and he was giddy after the race, Smith: “ I can’t even describe that performance. He ranks right up there with the top 5 horses I’ve even been on, with room to grow. It really was so impressive. There’s no telling what this horse can do or the potential that he can reach. I think he still has room to grow. At first I thought California Chrome was getting away from me and I know when he switches leads he has another gear. They’re two great champions, they’re going to battle back and forth. Hopefully we see a race between the 3 of them again, Shared Belief, California Chrome and Bayern.”

Shared Belief’s trainer Jerry Hollendorfer really was not fazed, Hollendorfer: “The race came up on paper like we thought it would, so that was real good. I was thinking you’re going to have to go get him (when California Chrome opened up turning into the stretch) and that’s what he had to do. We’re thinking about the Santa Anita Handicap for sure.”

Runner-up California Chrome was not disgraced. He ran his heart out but just was not good enough. Trainer Art Sherman has options on the table and one race he has in mind for the future is the Dubai World Cup.

One thing that must be noted is how these runners trained coming to the San Antonio. California Chrome was set down in a drill on January 10 when he went 1:11 3/5 at Los Alamitos. Sherman sent him 7 furlongs in his next race, gave him a nice foundation mile drill on January 25 and completed his preparation with a 1:01 3/5 work just 6 days before the San Antonio. He was fit but just on the short end.

One thing about Jerry Hollendorfer is he does not sent out short horses. Since winning the Malibu the day after Christmas, he sent Shared Belief a slow 4 furlongs in his first work back. The runner than posted a best of the morning 5 furlong drill and a best of the morning 6 furlong drill in 1:13 1/5. A week after that race, he asked for speed and Shared Belief responded getting 6 furlongs in 1:11 4/5. Four days before the San Antonio, Hollendorfer backed off and just let Shared Belief go 4 furlongs in a sluggish :50 4/5. All the works were at Golden Gate.

Trainers have patterns, just like horses and they must be scrutinized.

For the record Shared Belief earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure. Last year Blingo won the Antonio with a 99 Beyer. Game on Dude won the San Antonio in 2012 with a 102 Beyer and repeated the next year with a meteoric 116 Beyer.

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