DEL MAR, Calif.— The first of the five stakes races on Saturday’s TVG Pacific Classic card, the $125,000 Shared Belief, promises to get things started with a bang. Five contentious 3-year-olds will line up for the race run at one mile on the main track.
The Shared Belief marks the return to the races for Newgrange, a son of Violence who was a top prospect for the Kentucky Derby after three straight wins to open his career, including back-to-back Grade 3 races, the Sham at Santa Anita in January and then three weeks later the Southwest at Oaklawn Park. But Newgrange ran sixth in the G2 Rebel in February, effectively knocking him off the Derby trail and he hasn’t raced since. He was purchased in July by a partnership that includes Rockingham Ranch and moved to the Phil D’Amato barn.
“He’s training like a horse that likes the dirt,” D’Amato says. “I put some grass breezes in him and he didn’t care for it. As soon as I put him back on the dirt he trained like a stake horse so he’s fit and ready.”
Trainer Bob Baffert brings two colts to the party. High Connection comes into the race off of his victory in the $125,000 Los Alamitos Derby. The son of the Curlin sire Connect has run four times in his career and has never finished worse than second.
The other Baffert horse is Armagnac. He set the pace in the G3 La Jolla last out only to fade to fourth in his first run ever on the grass. That came after his trip back east to Baltimore where he ran seventh in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
Shared Belief was a Pacific Classic winner in 2014 who succumbed to complications due to colic in December of 2015. In 2016, the El Cajon Stakes was renamed in his honor. It will be run as the fourth race on Saturday’s 11-race TVG Pacific Classic card.
Here’s the field from the rail with jockeys: Go Joe Won (Jose Valdivia); High Connection (Juan Hernandez); Newgrange (Edwin Maldonado); Il Bellator (Abel Cedillo), and Armagnac (John Velazquez).
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Newgrange (Benoit Photo)