Even-money favorite Shared Belief, ridden patiently by Corey Nakatani, swept past outsider Candy Boy coming into the stretch and easily rolled to his third consecutive victory in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 14 at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
In the final graded stakes ever at Hollywood Park, which closes for good Dec. 22, Shared Belief remained unbeaten for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer with his 5 3/4-length triumph. The Hall of Fame conditioner owns the 2-year-old Candy Ride gelding in partnership with Jim Rome's Jungle Racing, Alex Solis II, Jason Litt, and KMN Racing.
Hollendorfer, who won the Futurity for the first time since 1988 with King Glorious, picked up his second graded stakes win of the day following Blueskiesnrainbows in the Native Diver (gr. III) two races earlier.
Seven horses who have finished either first or second in the Futurity— Alysheba (1986), A.P. Indy (1991), Thunder Gulch (1994), Real Quiet (1997), Point Given (2000), Giacomo (2004), and Lookin At Lucky (2009)—have gone on to win at least one Triple Crown race, so it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for Shared Belief.
"I don't like to compare my horses, but I'd have to put him near the top, said the Hall of Fame conditioner. "I dont like to put them on the (Kentucky) Derby trail, but we'll see what happens. If you are going to go to the Derby, the horse takes you there, you don't take him there."
A disappointing crowd of 7,010 was on hand to see the impressive performance.
Despite a late start to his season, Shared Belief made a strong statement for an Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding juvenile with his third romp in a row, defeating a solid CashCall Futurity field in overpowering style.
Always traveling well in his first try around two turns, Shared Belief took command coming out of the far turn and opened up by half-a-dozen lengths in the homestretch while completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in a smart 1:42.16 over the Cushion Track.
Candy Boy held second following a stewards' inquiry, with the Hollendorfer-trained Tamarando third in the field of 12 2-year-olds. Bond Holder finished fourth. Candy Ride sired the first two finishers.
Pam and Marty Wygod bred Shared Belief in Kentucky out of the Storm Cat mare Common Hope. He was purchased privately out of a seven-length debut win going six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields Oct. 19. In his first stat for he new connections, Shared Belief dominated his rivals by 7 3/4 lengths in taking the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) Nov. 10.
In the CashCall Futurity, Brother Soldier took the field into the clubhouse turn as Nakatani found room on Shared Belief and angled him to the rail, where he stalked in second. Brother Soldier opened up by about four lengths on the backstretch through swift opening fractions of :22.86 and :46.69 before Candy Boy went for an early move on the outside for Gary Stevens heading into the far turn. Candy Boy clipped off six furlongs in 1:11.38 but Shared Belief, angled slightly off the rail, engaged the leader rounding the bend.
"Wow! My horse has a pretty high cruising speed and when (Candy Boy) made that early move, I couldn't go with him," said Nakatani following his third win on the Hollywood card.
By the time they reached the top of the stretch, Shared Belief was pulling away from his rivals to lead by 2 1/2 lengths, and he had no threats in the drive while kept to his task by Nakatani.
"I'm just very thankful to Jerry Hollendorfer and his team, (assistant) Dan Ward, and obviously (part-owner) Alex Solis II for finding the horse and buying him. He did all the work and I was just a quiet passenger on him. Wow!"
Candy Boy stayed on for second by 1 1/4 lengths with Tamarando putting ina mild bid under Rafael Bejarano for third. Stewards conducted an inquiry into the run around the far turn when Kobe's Back clipped the heels of Candy Boy. They ruled that Kobe's Back was at fault for the incident.
"He's big long-striding colt and I'm looking forward to riding him on the dirt," Stevens said of the runner-up.
With the winner's share of $375,000, Shared Belief has now banked $451,200.
"I didn't really anticipate the horse (being near the lead)," Hollendorfer said. "i thought others would send their horse, but it didn't work out that way. "Shared Belief took Nakatani there and I thought he was very comfortable. When (Nakatani) was ready he asked him and (Shared Belief) gave it to him. He was really on his toes today and that surprised me."
Under equal weighs of 121 pounds, he paid $4, $3.60, and $2.80. Candy Boy, coming off a romping maiden win over the track and distance Nov. 22 for trainer John Sadler, was a good second at 26-1 while returning $15 and $8.40. The exacta was worth $62.20. Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams' homebred Tamarando, winner of the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) this summer for Hollendorfer, paid $3.20.
It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Bond Holder in fourth, followed by Electric Eddie, Brother Soldier, Sheikinator, Rankhasprivileges, Even Echo, Kobe's Back, and Tap it Rich, who disappointed as the 5-2 second choice. Karma King, who reared in the post parade and ran off, was pulled in the stretch.