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Round 2

Posted by on 1/7/2015 9:18:34 PM

Racing fans can get their popcorn ready for a possible Round 2 as Bayern, California Chrome and Shared Belief could very well be re-matched next month in the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on February 7.

The $500,000 9-furlong fixture was first run in 1935 and over the decades, it became a race that was won by legends. Seabiscuit, under Red Pollard, won the Antonio in 1940.

Round Table and Bill Shoemaker were best in 1958 and the White Corvette Vigors looped the field in a visually impressive victory in 1978.

California’s own Best Pal got up for the win in 1995 and Game on Dude won back-to-back runnings. Last year Blingo was coming off a trouble 6th in the San Pasqual but he settled behind a fast 1:10.17 pace and inhaled his rivals getting up by a half-length with a 99 Beyer Speed Figure.

This year’s Antonio could be one of the special treats for handicappers early in the year. The last time this trio met was in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and it was a flat-out war.

To read the footnotes of the Classic chart one gets a pretty good concept of how the race unfolded. Bayern broke inward, bumping Shared Belief, who also wiped out Moreno, the runner that would have given Bayern all he could handle on the front end.

Shared Belief bobbled and was forced into Moreno, steadied soon after, checked off heels nearing the wire for the first time, raced 4 wide, but ran out of real estate.

Viewing the race was like watching a car wreck on a freeway.

Prepping for the race, California Chrome worked last weekend at Los Alamitos in 1:12.60 under his regular rider Victor Espinoza and there were praises around. Espinoza: “He worked unbelievable. He went in one twelve and change, which is what I wanted for him. He was pulling a lot, he’s getting tougher and he has completely changed as he’s getting older.”

As for the BC Classic winner Bayern, he also worked last weekend over the Santa Anita strip. Jockey Martin Garcia was aloft and the colt got his 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 to please his trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert: “He worked real nice. He was very comfortable. We’re just trying to get him back to the races. We have a few spots in mind including the San Antonio and the Donn.”

Shared Belief , of course, has already made a start after the BC Classic. He was seen opening day at Santa Anita and he was game as can be winning the Grade 1 Malibu by a hard-fought neck with a 99 Beyer.

He did something that is very, very difficult to do and that’s cut back from a mile and a quarter and win a demanding 7-furlong stakes. He ran his record to 8 for 9 and has now earned over $2 million.

As far as projected how the San Antonio will be run if these 3 go, again look for Bayern to make the lead, expect California Chrome to track a couple of lengths off the pace and visualize Shared Belief saving ground and making the one run.

Here’s hoping his race materializes.

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