Shared Belief, the champion 2-year-old of 2013, will try to stay undefeated against six opponents in the Grade 2, $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby Saturday at Los Alamitos.
For 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, the inaugural Derby is the richest event of the Summer Thoroughbred Festival and is the eighth of nine races.
Known as the Swaps Stakes while run at Hollywood Park (1974-2013), the Derby is the first step in the $1 million Bolton Challenge. The winner of Saturday’s race is eligible for a seven-figure prize if they go on to victories in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Aug. 24 at Del Mar and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
The bonus is sponsored by the Los Alamitos Racing Association and the California-based insurance brokerage firm Bolton & Company.
Owned by a partnership that includes sports radio and television personality Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC, KMN Racing LLC, Jason Litt, George Todaro, Alex Solis II and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief culminated his Eclipse Award winning season with a decisive score in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity over Cushion Track last Dec. 14 at Hollywood Park.
The gelded son of Candy Ride and the Storm Cat mare Common Hope, who was purchased privately by his current connections after breaking his maiden, has banked $472,200. Shared Belief’s wins have been by a combined 24 ¾ lengths.
The Los Alamitos Derby will be the first race on dirt for Shared Belief, who will have a new rider Saturday. Hall of Famer Mike Smith takes over, becoming the fourth different jockey to have the assignment.
Corey Nakatani was aboard for the stakes wins at Hollywood Park while Juan Hernandez and Russell Baze were the riders in Northern California.
“He’s a big money jockey and he’s wanted a chance to ride this horse,’’ said Hollendorfer when asked about the switch to Smith.
Shared Belief, established as the 4-5 favorite by Los Alamitos morning-line maker Russ Hudak, completed his serious preparation for the Derby with a 48.40 half-mile work Sunday over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields. Five days earlier he had drilled seven furlongs in 1:27.60.
“He’s doing fine,’’ said Hollendorfer, who also entered longshot Tonito M. “(The Sunday work) was an easy blowout. He’s going to arrive at Los Alamitos (Wednesday) and will gallop over the track Thursday.’’
Candy Boy will make his first start since finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Trained by John Sadler for owner-breeder Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, the Candy Ride colt out of the In Excess mare She’s an Eleven won the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February and was second behind Shared Belief in the CashCall Futurity.
Candy Boy has won two of eight and earned $425,600.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Swaps five times, will be represented by Can the Man, an Into Mischief colt owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc.
Out of the Danzig mare Smolensk, Can the Man has won three of five and banked $216,000.
After ending 2013 with a victory as the 4-5 favorite in the Speakeasy last Oct. 14 at Santa Anita, the $320,000 2-year-old purchase returned with a win in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap June 7 at Santa Anita.
Top Fortitude will be making his initial attempt beyond seven furlongs for owner-breeder Triple AAA Ranch and trainer Kory Owens.
The Arizona bred, who is out of the French Deputy mare French Debutante, is 2-for-4 with a bankroll of $187,250.
From inside out, the field for the Los Alamitos Derby: Eddie’s First, Elvis Trujillo rides, 122 pounds; Tonito M., Victor Espinoza, 122; Can the Man, Martin Garcia, 122; Friendswith K Mill, Tyler Baze, 122; Shared Belief, Mike Smith, 122; Top Fortitude, Kayla Stra, 122 and Candy Boy, Joe Talamo, 122.
Los Alamitos Publicity