Okay, here is the question, are California Chrome and Shared Belief going to become the on-track rivals we all want them to be?
The second installment of their rivalry will be run on Saturday February 7 when they tangle in the mile and an eighth San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita. Of course their first meeting was in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic at that same track. In that race, which was a furlong farther, many believe the outcome was compromised at the beginning when Belief had to check sharply as he was squeezed right out of the gate. Chrome broke well, but just missed running down the pace-setting Bayern at the wire as he finished third with Shared Belief in fourth. This time, a smaller field could make for more of a match race between two Eclipse Award winners.
The sport is abuzz about their second meeting as folks far and wide are looking forward to seeing what a clean trip can produce between these two talented athletes. Belief owner and sports talk show host Jim Rome said horse racing needs more rivalries to get fans charged up following his former Juvenile champion’s win in the Pacific Classic. Well, this is just what the doctor ordered. Much like the Muhammed Ali- Joe Frazier fights in the 1970’s, Chrome versus Belief has fans feeling the electricity.
“This is just like an old grudge match,” laughs California Chrome trainer Art Sherman. “You’ve got the Shared Believers thinking their horse is the best and he was the two-year old champion and here we are the three-year old champion.It’s very rare they get to run against each other because most of the time they are ducking each other. It’s going to be very interesting. I just hope to see Chrome show up like he can because I think this race is going to mean a lot.”
Ali and Frazier were the epitome of sports rivals. Sports fans of all sorts could benefit greatly if California Chrome and Shared Belief were to meet more in the future. That could very well happen, but it might not be until later in the year if the DAP team decides to send Chrome to Dubai for the World Cup. The San Antonio could set the stage if they hook up in an epic stretch battle for the ages. This is not a match race so of course there will be other ponies running
including the ever-improving Hoppertunity. And if memory serves us correctly, Hoppertunity trainer Bob Baffert spoiled the last party when Bayern took the field gate to wire at the Breeders’ Cup. But regardless of how the San Antonio finishes, we can only hope they both emerge healthy and full of their A game. If they do, could we be headed for the Thrilla in Manilla later in the season…We can only hope so!
The race will be televised on Fox Sports 1 on February 7.