You have to go back to 2005 for the last time a favourite was successful in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, when Saint Liam justified odds of 9/4, so the pressure is certainly on probable jolly Shared Belief to right that wrong for favourite backers in three weeks’ time.
The unbeaten son of Candy Ride is no stranger to getting his head in front even in the most difficult circumstances. In a race described as “a mugging” Jerry Hollendorfer’s charge was tag-teamed into being forced five horses wide in the Awesome Again Stakes last month.
Nevertheless, he just got up to keep that unblemished record.
That win was by the shortest margin he has recorded in his short career, a neck, but can be translated as a much more impressive victory.
According to Ken Davies of Equibase “Shared Belief travelled 6,070 feet, while Fed Biz, who finished second, travelled 6,004 feet…That means based on the Trakus formula, Shared Belief covered about 7 ¾ lengths more than Fed Biz. So even though Shared Belief didn’t win the Awesome Again Stakes by daylight, he probably would have won by daylight if not for having such a wide trip”.
It is that victory that the current 6/4 favourite warrants plenty of respect with, and Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White believes his price is only going to get shorter:
“I originally had been thinking about 8/5 or 7/5 for Shared Belief in the Classic, but I am expecting him to be a shorter price than that…When push comes to shove, I could end up making Shared Belief even money or 4/5”.
Questions have been raised as to whether the colt is as good on a dirt surfaces as he is on synthetic tracks. But with three wins from three on the surface, he has certainly put paid to that argument.
Who will go off second favourite for the big race at Santa Anita looks more open. Currently Ladbrokes have both Tonalist and Bayern at 6/1, with California Chrome behind them at 7/1.
But question marks still hang over everyone of the trio.
Tonalist probably has the least to prove, having secured a nice victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in September, but with all three of his Graded wins coming at Belmont Park, it is questionable as to whether he will be as effective on the tight turns at Santa Anita.
While he will get the distance no problem, doubts have to be raised as to whether Bayern truly gets the 1m2f trip. Only twice has he ventured further than 1m1f, and twice he has been well beaten, finishing a totaly of 41 lengths behind the winners in those contests.
Finally, last season’s wonder horse California Chrome will need to prove that the flame still burns bright after a sixth placed finish was all he could manage on his return this season in the Pennsylvania Derby. He could probably be excused as it was his first run in 15 weeks, but whether he has ‘trained on’ as a three-year old remains to be seen.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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