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Mar 13, 2015

Up the Backstretch: Rankings offer early look at 2015 season

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - The initial National Thoroughbred Racing Association polls have been released with Shared Belief and Dortmund atop the rankings.

Shared Belief received all 47 first-place votes in the National Poll after his dominating victory in last Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap. The 4-year-old gelding, trained and co-owned by Hall of Fame member Jerry Hollendorfer, is perfect in his two starts this season, including a season opening win over 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, third in the rankings, in the San Antonio Invitational.

"It's something that you don't expect," the trainer said about Shared Belief's consistency. "Horses get ups and downs and he just stays the same and he does whatever we ask him to do and he seems very happy and enthusiastic about it."

Shared Belief has now put himself well in front of all other thoroughbreds this year and appears suited for the long grind of the racing season leading to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

"It's an amazing thing. It's like he shows up every single time," co-owner Jim Rome said, "he always runs big, is always tough, and just has a lot of grit, a lot of heart. It's an absolute dream to be involved with a horse like this. He never disappoints. I couldn't be more proud. I love the horse."

Breeders' Cup Turf champ Main Sequence is second after beginning his campaign by claiming last month's Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park. The next target for the two-time Eclipse Award winner is the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28 in Dubai.

"As long as he does well in the next three weeks, that's the plan, but he looks super this morning," said trainer Graham Motion after the grass win.

Following California Chrome in the poll are Constitution, Honor Code, Bayern, Lea, leading 3-year-old Dortmund, champion filly Untapable and former two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Dortmund, trained by Bob Baffert, pulled in 34 of 47 top votes based on his victory in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita to lead the 3-year-old rankings.

"It looks easy because he's such a good horse and when you have a horse that's good, he makes it look easy," said the colt's jockey, Martin Garcia. "I'm always confident because I know how good he is. I don't think there will be any difference for him when we add more distance; he can go any distance. It won't be a problem for him."

The 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on April 4 will be Dortmund's last start before the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Carpe Diem began his season with a win in the Tampa Bay Derby and sits second in the poll followed by Upstart, Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah, El Kabeir, International Star, Far From Over, Itsaknockout, Firing Line and Texas Red.

The 3-year-old poll will certainly go through various changes as the season progresses, culminating with the final rankings after the Belmont Stakes on the first Saturday in June.

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