American Turf Magazine
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Dec 20, 2013



               This is a sad weekend in Southern California if you are a horse racing fan. Hollywood Park will close its doors for good after racing on Sunday December 22nd, a bad sign for the whole racing industry throughout the country. If Hollywood Park can close than what else is on the horizon. The game is not in a good state right now and some of the decisions made by those in power have made me shake my head more than once. Before the advent of simulcasting to the extent we have it now it was always a thrill to see a horse ship in from Southern California. Back in the early 80’s when you saw a horse ship into New York from Santa Anita, Hollywood Park or Del Mar you could usually expect that runner to have high early speed and always give a good account of his or herself. You couldn’t watch the races on your computer two minutes after the race back then so if you got to see a race from Hollywood Park on a weekly recap show it was a big treat. Well now that track is closed, so many great jockeys, horses and trainers have graced those grounds over the years it is sad to see it close. Hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come for other tracks across the country.

               John Velazquez who was injured in a spill on November 2nd at Santa Anita on day two of the Breeders’ Cup has been cleared to start physical therapy and hopes to begin exercising horses in the morning sometime by mid-January. He didn’t give a timetable as to when he will begin riding again a lot of that decision will be based on how quickly he gets his strength back and when he can get back to exercising horses in the a.m. Velazquez, who had his spleen removed after the spill during the running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, will spend the winter in Florida, start his physical therapy and hopes to get back riding soon. He said that when he does return he will likely only accept a limited amount of mounts per day. He did the same thing two summers ago when he returned from a fractured collarbone at Saratoga. According to the article in the daily racing form he said that “I don’t know if I’m going to be fit enough to ride that many horses,”. “I think it’s safe anyway that way. I like to give every horse I ride 110 percent. I don’t want to go out there and ride three horses and the fourth horse I’m dead.”

               Now I know we haven’t even turned the calendar to 2014 just yet but it is never too early to think about the Kentucky Derby. A two year old gelding by Candy Ride has kind of burst onto the scene over the last month or so with two very impressive performances in two stakes races over Hollywood Park’s cushion track. Shared Belief, a two year old by Candy Ride out of the Storm Cat dam, Common Hope ran his record to 3 for 3 (all over synthetic surfaces) with a huge win in Grade I Cashcall Futurity on December 14th at Hollywood Park. Shared Belief started his career on October 19th at Golden Gate Fields in a six furlong maiden special weight race. Sent off as the 5-2 second choice, he broke well and was well place in third early on behind sharp fractions. Coming out of the turn he moved up to the leaders and put in a solid late burst to draw away by seven lengths in a solid final time of 1:09:2. After that win he was sold to a partnership that includes Jim Rome’s Jungle racing. Well it looks like that was quite a deal. His next start and first for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer came in the Hollywood Prevue. He stalked the leaders from second in that spot, took over into the lane and again showed a big burst through the stretch to score by almost eight lengths in a sharp time of 1:22 flat. Off that win he was sent off as the even money favorite in the Cashcall Futurity. In a field of 12, Shared Belief got away in good order and stalked the leaders from second and then was relegated to third when Candy Boy made a big move into the far turn. As they moved into the lane, Shared Belief and jockey Corey Nakatani moved outside, took over and again we saw that huge burst of energy through the lane to go on and score by almost six lengths. This horse is an exciting prospect to say the least. Can he get the Derby distance will be the $64,000 question, he has handled two turns and does have the breeding that would suggest that he could get the 1 and ¼ miles. He is extremely talented but as I said earlier there is a long way to go before the first Saturday in May. But as a racing fan and one who loves to see superstars run, something this game is lacking, this is a horse that definitely gets you excited as we head into a long winter.


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