Undefeated champion Shared Belief makes his long-awaited return to stakes competition on Saturday as part of a seven-sophomore field entered in the Grade 2, $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby.
The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil was sidelined over the winter by foot problems, forcing him to miss the Triple Crown season. He returned on May 26 at Golden Gate Fields to wire a six-furlong allowance by 4 ¼ lengths in his first start since a romping 5 ¾-length victory in the CashCall Futurity in mid-December. It was also his first start since being honored with an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old male in January.
LOS ALAMITOS DERBY DRAW
Shared Belief continued training at his Golden Gate homebase, most recently recording a half-mile move in :48 ⅖ seconds on Sunday. The Candy Ride gelding is getting a new rider in Mike Smith for Saturday's contest.
The biggest threat to Shared Belief keeping his perfect mark intact is Candy Boy, who hasn't been seen since a troubled run in the May 3 Kentucky Derby. The John Sadler-trained son of Candy Ride captured the Robert B. Lewis in February, a race that was supposed to feature Shared Belief before his foot problems sidelined him.
Candy Boy went on to be third behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby prior to his Kentucky Derby effort, and will also have a jockey switch to contend with as Joseph Talamo takes over from Gary Stevens.
Can the Man is a new shooter in the three-year-old ranks. The Bob Baffert charge placed in last year's Del Mar Futurity before wrapping up his juvenile campaign with a fourth in the FrontRunner and a 1 ¾-length score in the Speakeasy at Santa Anita. The bay son of Into Mischief hadn't been seen since that latter contest in mid-October until returning on June 7 for a nice win in the Affirmed going 1 1/16 miles. Though he'll be trying nine furlongs for the first time in the Los Alamitos Derby, Can the Man appears ready to step up his game under regular rider Martin Garcia.
Also of note in Saturday's field are Affirmed runner-up Friendswith K Mill and Grade 3 hero Top Fortitude, who rallied for second in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard.
Eddie's First, a record setter over Santa Anita's turf course, and Grade 3-placed Tonito M. complete the field for the Los Alamitos Derby.