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Feb 06, 2015

Up the Backstretch: 'Chrome' and Shared Belief know Santa Anita

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - Neither California Chrome nor Shared Belief reside at Santa Anita, but both 4-year-olds know the track located in Arcadia, California and have had success at the oval.

California Chrome, trained by Art Sherman, has three wins from five starts at Santa Anita, reeling off consecutive victories early last year in the Cal Cup Derby, San Felipe Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. And we all know what the chestnut colt did his next two times out.

Formerly based at the now closed Hollywood Park, Sherman moved his champion to Los Alamitos Race Course which formerly was a quarter horse track with a less than one-mile track. Last year the track was lengthened and 'Chrome' lives and works there before being shipped for competition.

The 2014 Horse of the Year was moved to Santa Anita on Tuesday for Saturday's San Antonio Stakes and got reacquainted with the track Wednesday.

The last time 'Chrome' ran at Santa Anita was the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 1. The colt, ridden by Victor Espinoza, ran a big race but finished third behind Bayern.

Shared Belief, co-owned and trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, spends most of his time at Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco. The gelding, the 2013 champion 2-year-old, has traveled to Santa Anita three previous times coming away with two wins and a fourth.

Of course, that fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic was controversial due to the start of the race when eventual winner Bayern veered to his left and hit Shared Belief coming out of the gate.

"Shared Belief is as classy as classy comes," said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith who rides the horse. "Shared Belief is not a big horse that you're going to sit back on and go like Zenyatta, who was imposing just to look at. He's not really that, but he's extremely athletic and really, really well-balanced. He's doing well. He looks good."

Shared Belief has had a shorter break between his last race and Saturday's San Antonio than 'Chrome' has had. The gelding won Santa Anita's Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, posting a neck victory over Conquest Two Step who last week won the Palos Verdes Stakes.

California Chrome last raced on Nov. 29 when he put away five challengers while running on turf for the first time. The colt won the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar by two lengths over leading Canadian filly Lexie Lou.

The San Antonio will be just the second time these two champions go against one another in competition and the morning line leaves very little separation. Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White put 'Chrome' as the 6-5 program favorite and Shared Belief at 7-5.

"I can't recall ever having a more difficult time deciding who to make the favorite between two horses," White told the track's Ed Golden. "Not even in all of the Breeders' Cup races that I've made the morning line have I had a harder decision between two horses in terms of favoritism.

"One of the reasons I ultimately decided to go with California Chrome is he is the reigning Horse of the Year. And then there is his immense popularity. Being such a big fan favorite is something that could come into play in the wagering. Also, California Chrome did beat Shared Belief the only time the two have met."

This second meeting on Saturday may well prove to be the start of something beautiful for horse racing.

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