SHARED BELIEF, a leading candidate for Horse of the Year, has been installed as the early 9-5 favourite and will break from the sixth post for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained three-year-old has been in a class of his own in recent weeks, extending his career record to a perfect seven-for-seven after missing the Triple Crown season due to lingering foot issues.
“Very good, that’s a pretty good spot,” said Hollendorfer after the post-position draw was announced. “It is going to be a great race with a lot of great horses in there and we are just happy to be a part of it.”
With veteran jockey Mike Smith in the saddle, Shared Belief will arrive at Santa Anita fresh from wins at the Pacific Classic and Awesome Again in his last two starts but is expected to face a strong challenge from California Chrome.
The chestnut colt took the racing world by storm earlier this year by winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown – the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes – before finishing a disappointing fourth at the Belmont Stakes in June.
California Chrome, who has won eight times in 14 career starts, has been drawn 13 for the Classic and will start as a 4-1 choice. “For once, I get an outside post. We’ll see how he runs with the outside post,” said California Chrome’s jockey Victor Espinoza.
Tonalist, the three-year-old who dashed California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid with a thrilling victory at the Belmont Stakes, is third in the Classic betting at 5-1 with Bob Baffert-trained Bayern at 6-1.
Toronado is the 5-2 favourite for the Mile where Wise Dan, winner of the race for the past two years, is unable to defend his title due to an ankle injury.
Richard Hughes will be on board Toronado for the $2m race and will open from stall five in a 14-horse field.
The Breeders’ Cup, a 13-race meeting worth a total of more than $26m, will be run on Friday and Saturday and hosted by Santa Anita for a record-equalling eighth time. There are four races on Friday and nine on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Godolphin have purchased a majority share in Dewhurst Stakes winner Belardo.
The Roger Varian-trained colt will run jointly for Godolphin and Prince Faisal for the remainder of his career, wearing the blue of Sheikh Mohammed’s operation.
John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor to Sheikh Mohammed, said: “Belardo is a lovely horse, full of quality and we are delighted to own the horse in partnership with Prince Faisal.
“The horse, who will run in Godolphin’s colours, will continue to be trained by Roger Varian, who has done so well with the colt this year.”