Shared Belief’s win could yield Breeders’ Cup showdown


The glamour division in horse racing is the 3-year-old colts and geldings. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes draw most of the sport’s interest each spring.

My preference always has been for older horses. They are the athletes who compete as 4-year-olds and beyond, horses that racing fans can grow an attachment with. But that story is for another day.

A lightning bolt named Shared Belief won the $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby on Saturday. The barometer of his win was he absolutely toyed with a good 3-year-old colt named Candy Boy.

Shared Belief is part-owned by sports-talk host Jim Rome. Having Rome involved only adds to this colt’s charisma moving forward.

Shared Belief is a gelding. He missed the Triple Crown because of a foot injury, which maybe was a good thing for his development. Rome has commented that giving Shared Belief plenty of time to mend was never an issue. Because he is a gelding, his trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, and the connections are in it for the long haul.

So, even though Shared Belief was the champion 2-year-old from last season, he flies under the radar relative to Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome.

That might change eventually.

The top 3-year-olds, and I include Belmont winner Tonalist among Shared Belief and California Chrome, hopefully will be on a collision course. Certainly not in the Haskell and Travers, but potentially by the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.

Horse racing always has had the best way to settle an argument: head-to-head on the racetrack.

Tonalist is most likely to run in the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga. No reason to leave New York when these two prestigious races are right there for him.

Shared Belief has been mentioned as a possible for the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. That would make sense with plenty of time since his Derby win and proven ability over a synthetic surface.

And California Chrome remains on a well-deserved vacation since missing out on the Triple Crown in losing the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Art Sherman has mentioned Aug. 1 as a probable return to training, with the Awesome Again on Sept. 27 at Santa Anita as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The perfect scenario is for these three horses to just keep winning through the summer to build up for an epic showdown. Sprinkle in the top older handicap horses, and the Classic could be the most hyped race of the year.

■ POKER AND PONIES — The South Point is hosting a Texas Hold ’em poker tournament Sunday and Monday with a $50 buy-in, with the winner earning a free entry worth $2,000 into the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier on July 19.

■ DEL MAR — The Del Mar meet opens Thursday. What usually happens is Las Vegas horse racing fans attend the meet in such high numbers that it’s called “Las Vegas South” until Labor Day.

The biggest change will be a widened turf course, which had to be done to accommodate Breeders’ Cup-sized fields on the grass. Del Mar recently was awarded the 2017 Breeders’ Cup.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.