Undefeated Shared Belief takes on 6 in the Los Alamitos Derby.

Undefeated Shared Belief takes on 6 in the Los Alamitos Derby.

Benoit Photo

Shared Belief Highlights First Los Al Derby

First graded event at Orange County track attracts 2013 juvenile champ, six others.

Los Alamitos Race Course produced a major drawing card for the first graded stakes of its new meet when 2013 juvenile champion Shared Belief was entered for the $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby (gr. II) to be run July 5 at the Orange County track.

Undefeated Shared Belief is to face six sophomore opponents in the 1 1/8-mile event, formerly the Swaps Stakes when it was contested at Hollywood Park from 1974-2013. Among his opponents entered July 2 is Candy Boy, the horse he defeated in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) last Dec. 14 to secure the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding 2-year-old male.

To be contested over Los Alamitos' new one-mile oval, the race is the richest of the brief inaugural "Summer Thoroughbred Festival." It is the eighth of nine on Saturday's card with an approximate post time of 5:30 p.m. PDT. The eight-day meet runs July 3-13 at the Cypress, Calif., track.

Owned by a partnership that includes sports radio and television personality Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing, KMN Racing, Jason Litt, George Todaro, Alex Solis II, and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief has had one start since his decisive 5 3/4-length score in the CashCall Futurity. That came in an allowance sprint victory over older horses in a five-horse field May 26 at Golden Gate Fields.

The son of Candy Ride  had his return to competition this season delayed by a stubborn foot injury that kept the dark bay gelding out of the Triple Crown series. Since his return, however, Shared Belief has continued to work forwardly over Golden Gate's Tapeta racing surface. The Los Alamitos Derby will be the first race on dirt for Shared Belief.

Shared Belief, established as the 4-5 favorite, completed his serious preparation for the Los Al Derby with a :48 2/5 half-mile work June 29. Five days earlier he had drilled seven furlongs in 1:27 3/5.

"He’s doing fine," said Hollendorfer, who also entered longshot Tonito M. in Saturday's race. "(The Sunday work) was an easy blowout. He’s going to arrive at Los Alamitos (Wednesday) and will gallop over the track Thursday."

Now 4-for-4 in his career with a combined winning margin of nearly 25 lengths, Shared Belief has banked $472,200 as his connections look ahead to a productive second half of the year. Shared Belief will have a new rider in Hall of Fame member Mike Smith. They drew favorably in post 5 under equal weights of 122 pounds.

Smith would be the fourth rider that Shared Belief has had, following Corey Nakatani, who was aboard for two stakes wins at Hollywood Park, and Juan Hernandez and Russell Baze, who rode him 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.

Candy Boy has been given a breather by trainer John Sadler since running 13th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3, a race in which he took up sharply at the seven-eighths pole.

Another son of Candy Ride owned and bred by Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, Candy Boy won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) in February before finishing third behind California Chrome  in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The bay colt worked six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 at Santa Anita Park June 29.

Breaking from the far outside post, Candy Boy will also have a new jockey in Joe Talamo, fresh off a riding title during the Santa Anita spring meet.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Swaps five times, will be represented by Can the Man . The Into Mischief  colt is owned by Kaleem Shah. A $320,000 2-year-old purchase, Can the Man made his first start of the year June 7 in the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita, winning gate-to-wire by 1 1 /4 lengths as the 19-10 chioice in a field of eight 3-year-olds.

Top Fortitude will be making his initial attempt beyond seven furlongs for owner-breeder Triple AAA Ranch and trainer Kory Owens. Dismissed at 30-1 in the Lazaro Barrera Stakes (gr. III) May 10 in Arcadia, the Top Hit colt responded with a 1 1/2-length win. He shipped to New York for his next start, finishing a distant second behind Bayern  in the Woody Stephens (gr. II) on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 7.

Owned by M. Racing Group, Tonito M. was second in the Barrera for Hollendorfer and eighth in the Woody Stephens in his first two races in this country. The son of Rock Hard Ten won  six of seven in Puerto Rico.

Friendswith K Mill, second in the Affirmed, and Eddie's First, making his graded stakes debut after breaking his maiden over Santa Anita's hillside turf course in May, were both entered by trainer Doug O'Neill.

The Los Alamitos Derby is the first step in the $1 million Bolton Challenge. The winner of Saturday’s race is eligible for the big bonus if they go on to victories in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) Aug. 24 at Del Mar and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

The bonus is sponsored by the Los Alamitos Racing Association and the California-based insurance brokerage firm Bolton & Company.

$500,000 Los Alamitos Derby (gr. II, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.) 3YOs, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Eddie's First (CA), E Trujillo, D F O'Neill
2. Tonito M. (KY), V Espinoza, J Hollendorfer
3. Can the Man (KY), M Garcia, B Baffert
4. Friendswith K Mill (KY), T Baze, D F O'Neill
5. Shared Belief (KY), M E Smith, J Hollendorfer
6. Top Fortitude (AZ), K Stra, R K Owens
7. Candy Boy (KY), J Talamo, J W Sadler
All assigned 122 pounds.