The Fourth of July weekend saw stellar action all around the world. In New York there was the inaugural running of the Belmont Invitational Derby and Oaks (both gr. IT), which offered a total of $2.25 million in purse money. In England, six group or grade I winners lined up to contest the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I), the first top-level middle-distance clash between the classic generation and their elders. In Germany, Sea The Moon, from the first crop of Sea The Stars, routed the opposition in the manner of a rising superstar in the IDEE Deutsches Derby (Ger-I). And in South Africa, the Durban July (SAf-I)—South Africa’s most important race—headlined a Greyville card that offered four grade I events.
With all that activity it would be easy to overlook the potential significance of a race that took place at the unlikely venue of Los Alamitos Racecourse in Southern California. Famed since the early 1950s for its Quarter Horse competition, Los Alamitos commenced Thoroughbred racing July 3, taking over from the now-defunct Hollywood Park.
Two days after the track opened, the feature race was the nine-furlong Los Alamitos Derby (gr. II), the heir to the Swaps Stakes. The race drew last year’s champion 2-year-old male, Shared Belief, who was running for only the second time this year; who was stretching out to nine furlongs for the first time; and who was making his debut on a natural dirt track. As it turned out, none of these potential hurdles proved a barrier to the gelding who scored by 4 1/4 lengths while earning a 105 Beyer speed figure. This effort took Shared Belief’s record to five wins in five starts, those victories having been achieved by a total margin of 29 lengths.
Shared Belief is from the sixth crop of his sire, Candy Ride . A son of Ride the Rails (by Cryptoclearance), Candy Ride was standing for $25,000 at the time of Shared Belief’s conception, and 2010 marked the first time that he had covered at more than $15,000, having risen to that mark from an initial fee of $10,000. Despite the modest stud fee Candy Ride made the most of his early opportunities, his first five crops yielding 39 stakes winners including grade I scorers Sidney's Candy, Twirling Candy , Evita Argentina, Misremembered , Capt. Candyman Can, El Brujo, and Home Sweet Aspen.
In the next two years he’ll have what should be his best two crops, sired at fees of $40,000 and $50,000.
Candy Ride has a couple of parallels with Shared Belief: an undefeated race-record and spectacular performances in California. Undefeated in three starts in his native Argentina, Candy Ride was accorded the title of champion miler there following eight-length victories in the group I Joaquin S. de Anchorena and San Isidro. His U.S. career also consisted of three starts: a three-length victory in an allowance/optional claiming race at Hollywood Park; a win in the American Handicap (gr. II), and a 3 1/4-length triumph over Medaglia d'Oro in the Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I), an effort that earned a Beyer of 123.
Shared Belief, bred by Pam and Marty Wygod, is from a family that has produced numerous good runners for the couple. The dam, Common Hope, a daughter of Storm Cat, scored her only win in a maiden and has since been exported to Turkey, but she has also produced the Iowa Oaks (gr. III) winner Little Miss Holly, and stakes-placed Double Major. Common Hope is a sister to the late Tribal Rule, a lightning quick performer who won two of four starts and went on to become a major sire in the California program. Common Hope is also a half sister to the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) winner Key Phrase.
When Key Phrase was bred to Storm Cat, she produced another very rapid horse in Yankee Gentleman, as well as Zing (dam of graded stakes winner and sire Half Ours) and Confidently (dam of graded stakes winner Khancord Kid). The granddam, Sown, is out of stakes winner Bad Seed, herself a daughter of Rich and Rare II, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1957 in England.
Shared Belief, as his TrueNicks rating of A++ would suggest, is bred on what has been one of the most successful crosses for Candy Ride, and Sidney’s Candy and graded stakes scorer Sweet Swap are the other stakes winners from just 15 starters for him out of Storm Cat mares. The success of the cross is extending to the next generations, as there are also a total of eight stakes winners including other grade I scorers Capt. Candyman Can and Evita Argentina, from 61 starters for Candy Ride out of mares by Storm Cat, his sons, and grandsons.