You could call him amazing. You could call him confident. You could call him dominant. And you could call him outstanding.
Any one of these words would accurately describe this immensely talented gelding who enjoyed competing and winning races.
Watching him in action was required viewing. Able to stalk the pace or spot the leader some lengths, he was a master showman, always giving maximum effort as he captivated fans with his thrilling stretch runs. Whether he won by a lot or a little, he commanded attention with how he finished races.
But this dark bay gelding is more than just a race winner and champion. As his career progressed, he grew into a tremendous fan favorite who has become one of the best loved horses of the 2010s.
Although Shared Belief enjoyed the bulk of his success in Southern California, he started his career up at Golden Gate Fields in October of 2013. The gelding did not just win that day; he outclassed everyone in the field as he let the leaders battle up front before seizing command and romping home by daylight for trainer Jedd Josephson.
That partnership was short lived, however. By the time Shared Belief made his next start, he was no longer owned by Pam and Marty Wygod. Now he was racing for multiple owners that included sports personality Jim Rome's Jungle Racing and the man who served as his new trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer. They very well could have had the feeling Shared Belief would be a good horse. But they could not have known that they were about to be part of a run of dominance engineered by this genuine talent.
First came a stop at Hollywood Park. Even before arriving in the area, Shared Belief already had Southern California flowing within him. His sire was Candy Ride, who went undefeated in his career. He also owned a pair of wins at Hollywood Park, and Shared Belief would soon emulate his father.
The connections sent him to the Grade III Hollywood Prevue Stakes, clearly confident he could handle the class boost. Not only did Shared Belief handle it, he relished it. None of his rivals in either the Hollywood Prevue or Grade I CashCall Futurity were a match for him as he took off like a rocket in the stretch both times to completely own each graded stakes event. His late season performances grabbed the attention of Eclipse Award voters, who named him Champion Two-Year-Old Male for 2013. Naturally, Shared Belief's record and penchant for outrunning his competition put him in the conversation of horses to watch during the Kentucky Derby prep season.
As it turned out, Shared Belief missed out on that part of the season as well as the Triple Crown races. But he lost none of his ability or drive to win when he returned in the spring of 2014. Starting with an allowance triumph at Golden Gate Fields that saw him shake off a rival before pulling away (something he did to perfection in the Hollywood Prevue) and winning handily, Shared Belief proved impossible to defeat for most of the year.
He stayed close to the front in the inaugural Grade II Los Alamitos Derby before showing his patented move of blasting away from the opposition. After teaming with jockeys Juan Hernandez, Corey Nakatani and Russell Baze, Shared Belief was paired with Mike Smith for the first time in the Los Alamitos Derby. No one else would ride him in a race again.
Shared Belief then tried older horses and a mile and a quarter for the first time in the Grade I Del Mar Pacific Classic. Staying several lengths behind three-time Santa Anita Handicap champion Game On Dude, Shared Belief caught him at the top of the stretch to again show he was in a class by himself. The fact he beat older horses while going ten furlongs makes the Pacific Classic one of his greatest performances, for he accomplished both of those assignments in his first attempt.
In short, the gelding passed a huge class test in Del Mar's biggest race.
But the Awesome Again Stakes, Shared Belief's next start, proved to be his most hard fought victory. Taken very wide while on the outside of Sky Kingdom in the first turn, Shared Belief stayed wide for much of the race. Never one to back down from another horse, as he demonstrated more than once before the Awesome Again, Shared Belief fought back with a cool intensity, showing great resolve as he battled gallantly in the stretch to prevail by a head in his Santa Anita debut. Now unbeaten in seven starts and owner of a win at a mile and one-quarter, Shared Belief went into the Breeders' Cup Classic (also at Santa Anita) looking to finish off another undefeated season.
What ended up happening, however, was a race where everything went wrong. After enduring a rough start to the Classic, Shared Belief went wide in the clubhouse turn. He actually got to within a few lengths of race leader Bayern, but was never a factor as he saw his winning streak come to a halt. Still, Shared Belief had no quit in him, and he admirably fought back to salvage fourth place in what was actually a good performance given the early trouble.
But Shared Belief would close out the year on a winning note. Back at Santa Anita for the Grade I Malibu Stakes, he rebounded from the first blemish on his record to take the prestigious sprint by roughly three-quarters of a length while generating momentum for the new year.
Despite his loss in the Classic, Shared Belief rightly earned the respect of many in the racing industry. In a deserving nod to a brilliant season, he was made a finalist for Champion Three-Year-Old honors at the Eclipse Awards. Even without participating in the Triple Crown part of the season and losing the Classic (which had been a complete anomaly for him given what happened at the start), Shared Belief had proven himself to be one of the best in his division.
Now an older horse, Shared Belief could now try some of the big races reserved for those at least four years of age. First up was a Breeders' Cup Classic rematch of sorts, for he took on Kentucky Derby champion and Horse of the Year California Chrome in the Grade II San Antonio Invitational at Santa Anita in February. The race had an old-style feeling to it. Two local titans squaring off to see who was better on the day. It was the showdown that never materialized at the Breeders' Cup, but fans had a second chance to see it here.
Not even a rainy day could keep them from showing up. Thousands came to see California Chrome and Shared Belief do battle, and they were not disappointed. The two marquee names tracked leader Hoppertunity before Chrome took the lead before the top of the stretch. Shared Belief followed as an excited crowd watched the long-awaited duel. Both horses gave it their all, but Shared Belief was superior, overhauling Chrome to win the San Antonio. It was another significant victory, for Shared Belief could now claim to beating a Horse of the Year, and this was just his first race of 2015. With momentum firmly in his corner, what could be next?
The answer to that came one month later. The San Antonio had long been a prep for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, and Shared Belief met with twelve horses in California's biggest horse race. Shared Belief's presence in the Big 'Cap gave the event a throwback aura like what accompanied the San Antonio. But in this case, the aura stemmed from a local star trying to add his name to a roll call of winners that included the likes of Seabiscuit, Round Table, Affirmed and John Henry. People thought he would do it, for Shared Belief was the overwhelming odds-on favorite for the Big 'Cap. No one could touch him in the wagering, and that meant one of two things. Either Shared Belief would deliver the expected outcome, or everyone in attendance would see one of the biggest upsets in the race's history.
But Shared Belief, the consummate competitior, would have no one spoiling his day. Racing with patience, he and Smith moved up to the front in the stretch once more. Smith hand rode him the rest of the way as the black silks with the blue stripe of Jungle Racing were in full display. Rapidly closing in on the biggest win of his career, Shared Belief unleashed his trademark dazzling finish, getting to the wire well ahead of everyone else to take the Big 'Cap.
Now a winner in ten of eleven starts, Shared Belief had become a major player in the older horse division thanks to his San Antonio and Big 'Cap scores. For start number three of 2015, he was sent across the country to Charles Town, home of the Grade II Charles Town Classic. Slated for April 18, Smith traveled to Charles Town with Shared Belief as they sought to expand the roll they were on.
But victory eluded them at Charles Town. After not having the best start, Shared Belief raced towards the back of the field. No rally would happen this time, however. While running down the backstretch for the second time, Shared Belief was pulled up. According to the state veterinarian, Dr. Elizabeth Daniel, she saw "a little soft tissue swelling in Shared Belief's right ankle." Shared Belief went to the sidelines, but he resumed training later in the year, doing some jogging at Golden Gate in a session that pleased Hollendorfer, who said "It went perfectly."
Sadly, Shared Belief never raced again. He did not get injured, but he came down with colic in December. And that was something he could not overcome.
Shared Belief's passing was a mix of shock and sadness. It did not seem possible that he could be gone. He had more races to win, more big performances in him. But none of that would happen.
Shared Belief is still remembered fondly among fans several years after he last raced. In his honor, Del Mar runs the Shared Belief Stakes every summer, and he continues to be popular due to his natural talent, bravery, and impressive record. He was simply a model racehorse.
There could not have been any other name for him but Shared Belief. Why is that? Because if you talk to people about him, you will find that there is a shared belief that he was truly special.
"a little soft tissue..." LaMarra, Tom. "Shared Belief Eased as Moreno Wins CT Classic." Blood-Horse, April 18, 2015. https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/107996/shared-belief-eased-as-moreno-wins-ct-classic
"It went perfectly." Balan, Jeremy. "Shared Belief Jogs at Golden Gate." Blood-Horse. November 5, 2015. https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/200005/shared-belief-jogs-at-golden-gate