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Shared Belief heads to the winner's circle after the Big Cap.
The highlight race of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting is the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1), featuring the best older handicap horses on the west coast going 1 1/4 miles over the main track in Arcadia before 26,134 fans in attendance. Conditions were excellent with clear skies, a fast track and temperatures in the low 80's. As expected, Shared Belief was sent off as the prohibitive 3-10 favorite in the field of 13, 9 for 10 lifetime with his only defeat in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), and coming in off wins in the Malibu (G1) and San Antonio (G2). In to challenge him included 9-1 second choice Moreno, winless since last year's Whitney (G1) and unraced since last of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and 14-1 third choice Hard Aces, winner of the Louisina Handicap last out.
Shared Belief draws away in the stretch
Jockey Santiago Gonzalez sent Moreno to the lead first time past the stands and he set fractions of 23.00, 45.56, 1:10.89, amd 1:35.56 while pressed the whole way by 25-1 Sr. Quisqueyano and 16-1 Catch a Flight. On the far turn, Shared Belief, who sat fifth about 2 1/2 lengths off the pace for the first 7f, came out 4 wide for room and blew right by the pacesetters. Under a hand ride by Mike Smith, Shared Belief powered away to win by 4 lengths over Moreno in 2:00.67. It was just a head back to Catch a Flight third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Shared Belief Smith 2.60 2.20 2.10 6 Moreno Gonzalez 4.80 4.20 12 Catch a Flight Stevens 4.20 Winning Time: 2:00.67 $1 Exacta 5-6 5.40 $1 Trifecta 5-6-12 38.40 $1 Superfecta 5-6-12-13 215.80
Left: Shared Belief in the winner's circle. Winning owner Jim Rome said, "It's an amazing thing. It's like he shows up every single time – he always runs big, is always tough, and just has a lot of grit, a lot of heart. It's an absolute dream to be involved with a horse like this. He never disappoints. I couldn't be more proud. That horse knows where the wire is, and he does not like to lose. I think a lot of people were caught up in ‘He's not that big of a horse.' But he's long, he's balanced. He's not that tall, but if you cut that horse open and look inside him, you've got a heart that's bigger than any horse you've ever seen. He looked awesome."
Right: Shared Belief in the paddock. Winning jockey Mike Smith, the only rider to win the Santa Anita Handicap three consecutive years, said, "He surprises me every time. I have to pinch myself that I get to be his pilot. It's Zenyatta, Holy Bull and then Shared Belief for me. I'm so blessed to have been able to ride all those great horses and to be the age I am and still be able to do this is a blessing. He was probably at his best today and won with a whole lot left. He won well in hand, hopefully this race didn't take too much out of him and we can move onto the next one. The perfect with him is just being in the clear, no matter what. Today I felt we just needed a clear, smooth trip. Jerry and I agreed that it was important to get away well today. My main concentration was to catch those first two or three steps and then after that it was just about pointing him in the right direction. He did the rest."
Left: Second place finisher Moreno in the post parade. Trainer Eric Guillot said, "It was almost exactly the race we expected to run. It was a little faster than I expected with the fractions early. For $200,000 off nine weeks of training, we were supposed to go back in training yesterday, and he ran 1 1/4 today, so I'm happy with this and not having to ship across the country. We'll focus on Charles Town now. At the wire, I thought we were going to be third, and I would have been happy with that, but the kid rode him relentlessly, and Moreno was game."
Right: Third place finisher Catch a Flight in the paddock. Jockey Gary Stevens said, "I thought I had a good shot. Mike (Smith) came up to me at the 5/16 pole just loaded and I said, ‘Go get him, Mike.' I thought I was going to be second; when I cut the corner, my horse liked it. Moreno ran huge; the top two finishers were just better today." Stevens was unseated while returning to the unsaddling area. He added, "He was galloping back and I was relaxed and he was too relaxed; he was tired. He just tripped with me. He started to go down head-first and he caught himself. When he did, it shot me straight up in the air. I tried to tuck and I landed on my back. It knocked the wind out of me. I'm OK, but winded."
Ring Weekend runs down Summer Front in the stretch
8-1 Holy Lute and 43-1 Dimension contested the early lead through fractions of 22.54, 45.41, and 1:09.13 while stalked by 29-1 Mr. Commons. Entering the lane, Summer Front came out 4 wide and gained a short lead through 7/8 in 1:21.34, but 7-1 Ring Weekend, 8th early, rallied 6 wide to win by 1 length in 1:32.98 over the firm course. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 13-1 Home Run Kitten third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 10 Ring Weekend Van Dyke 17.40 8.60 5.20 8 Summer Front Espinoza 3.80 3.20 9 Home Run Kitten Stevens 5.60 Winning Time: 1:32.98 $1 Exacta 10-8 38.60 $1 Trifecta 10-8-9 356.40 $1 Superfecta 10-8-9-11 1,172.40
Left: Ring Weekend in the winner's circle. Alice Clapham, assistant to winning trainer Graham Motion said, "He ran great. Drayden gave him a great ride and settled him nicely. It couldn't have worked out better. He's grown up from last year. I hadn't seen him since then. He's grown up a lot mentally and physically. Hopefully, we'll have a good, fun year with him."
Right: Ring Weekend returns after the race. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, celebrating his first Grade 1 winner, said, "It feels amazing to win my first Grade 1 for a trainer like Graham Motion. I'm very blessed. I was following Mike Smith on Za Approval and I thought he would be a good guy to follow, I expected him to show more speed then he did today. I tried to be as patient as I could, I swung out and when I saw the eight horse, Summer Front I was far out so I tried to cut back in to let my horse see him and my horse just kicked on from there. I got to breeze Ring Weekend on the turf last week and he worked amazing, I never moved on him. He came back well and really fresh."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Summer Front in the post parade. Jockey Victor Espinoza said, "He's a really cool horse. He's very nice to ride. He gives you everything he has. He ran a good race. I thought we got this one by the way he ran, but I think the other horse outran me today. I was surprised by the way the other horse beat me. I wait, I wait, I wait and then I said ‘It's time to go.' And he goes. He's quick out of there. The next time I looked back on the outside, the other horse (Ring Weekend) went by me like I was standing still."
Right: Third place finisher Home Run Kitten in the paddock. The 13-1 shot raced in 9th early under Gary Stevens then rallied to get third beaten 3 1/4 lengths. The David Hofmans trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 13 starts, earning $329,800 for owner Tarabilla Farms.
Dortmund draws off in the stretch
Jockey Martin Garcia sent Dortmund to the lead and he set fractions of 23.12, 46.98, and 1:11.30 while pressed by 27-1 Sir Samson and 11-1 Bolo. In the stretch Bolo drew even with Dortmund through 1 mile in 1:35.51 but was turned away, as Dortmund drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths over late-running Prospect Park in 1:41.65. It was another 1/2 length back to Bolo third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Dortmund Espinoza 3.60 2.60 2.20 6 Prospect Park Smith 3.80 3.40 7 Bolo Rosario 4.60 Winning Time: 1:41.65 $1 Exacta 3-6 7.00 $1 Trifecta 3-6-7 46.10 $1 Superfecta 3-6-7-1 169.10
Left: Dortmund in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "Coming into this race he was doing much better than he was last time. He's starting to fill out, getting stronger. As long as he stays healthy, the farther they go, he's just getting cranked up there at the end, so that was pretty exciting. The thing about Martin, he knows all these horses, so if I have to give him instructions, then I'm in trouble. He knows the horse really well. The worse thing you can do is take him back and get him behind a wall of horses. He was doing it pretty easily. He'll stay here (for the Santa Anita Derby)."
Right: Dortmund returns after the race. Winning jockey Martin Garcia said, "It looks easy because he's such a good horse and when you have a horse that's good, he makes it look easy. I'm always confident because I know how good he is. I don't think there will be any difference for him when we add more distance; he can go any distance. It won't be a problem for him."
Left: Second place finisher Prospect Park in the post parade. Jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "I had a full ride. I had to throw on the air brakes in the first turn to get him covered. He galloped and cantered to the quarter-pole. I had to thread a needle there where he shied a bit. He was made for this. He did a great job. They got the battle, we'll win the war."
Right: Third place finisher Bolo in the post parade. Jockey Victor Espinoza said, "He ran an amazing race today. To be able to switch to the main track for the first time like he did, he ran fantastic. I know we lost some ground, but I liked where we were. I didn't want to get a bunch of dirt in his face and I didn't want to get him back in behind horses. Dortmund is a great horse, no doubt about it. Just for a moment there at the top of the stretch, I thought we could beat him, but he's too tough."
Wild Dude leads on the rail in the stretch
20-1 El Nino Terrible dueled for the lead with Wild Dude down the backstretch and around the turn through fractions of 23.26 and 46.11 while stalked by Conquest Two Step. With 3/16 to go, Wild Dude gained the lead and was all out to hold off late-running Kobe's Back by 3/4 length in 1:21.91. It was another 3/4 back to favorite Conquest Two Step third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Wild Dude Rosario 5.80 3.80 2.20 5 Kobe's Back Saez 5.40 2.40 4 Conquest Two Step Baze 2.10 Winning Time: 1:20.84 $1 Exacta 7-5 20.00 $1 Trifecta 7-5-4 32.80 $1 Superfecta 7-5-4-2 137.60
Left: Wild Dude in the winner's circle. Winning owner-trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, "I didn't think we'd be that close early, but the horse broke real well and I'm glad Rafael went on with him. He was in between horses; I was a little worried about that, but turning for home it seemed like he still had a lot left and he opened up on them, and opened up a little more and held off a great, big, gaining gray horse (Kobe's Back)."
Right: Wild Dude in the paddock. Winning jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "He's been training so good coming into this race. I thought El Nino Terrible would go to the lead and Blues Blaster as well. When I saw them go to the lead, I took a position and I didn't have any pressure from the outside. I just picked my spot and I went from there. I was close to the pace and he normally doesn't like that but he proved he can do it today. By the 3/8 I took off; when I felt pressure from Conquest Two Step, I took off."
Left: Second place finisher Kobe's Back in the paddock. Jockey Gary Stevens said, "Pete (Eurton, trainer) did a heck of a job with him. He wasn't even blowing after the race. He was dead fit after the layoff. Super job by him. Kobe ran great; he's back. I lost a lot of ground around the turn. I didn't really have a choice; I was behind and to the outside of Conquest Two Step and Wild Dude was down inside of him. I didn't have any choice but to be where I was. Unfortunately, we lost more ground than what I got beat by, but I'm really happy with him."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Conquest Two Step in the paddock. Jockey Joe Talamo said, "We had a perfect trip. I was lying right outside with some slow fractions, and just got out-run today. I was lying in the perfect spot right outside, and I came to the winner at the top of the lane and just didn't get there."
The $75,000 China Doll Stakes featured a field of 8 three-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the turf. 7-2 second choice She's a Big Winner set the pace of 23.07, 47.34, and 1:11.63 while stalked by 8-1 Maybellene. On the far turn, 20-1 shot Singing Kitty, fourth early under Aaron Gryder, moved up to challenge for the lead getting 7/8 in 1:23.15, then drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths over late-running even-money favorite Curlin's Fox in 1:35.09. It was just a nose back to She's a Big Winner third.
The Matthew Chew trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 0 seconds, and 0 thirds in 8 starts, earning $235,378 for owners Chris Aulds and Peter Jeong.
Results Chart from DRF.
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