Del Mar: The best value in the Shared Belief Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 29th, 2020

Saturday’s Shared Belief S. at Del Mar looks like a tough race to bet, but not for the reasons you might think.

Normally a tough betting race is one that features a huge field, full of evenly matched contenders. The Shared Belief is the opposite. Although the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race offers 50 qualification points to the winner, just six horses have been entered, and two — #1 Uncle Chuck and #3 Anneau d’Or — are expected to scratch and target other races.

A larger field might have turned out, if not for the presence of Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner #5 Honor A. P., who will be an overwhelming favorite to win the Shared Belief. This rapidly improving youngster ran a huge race in the Santa Anita Derby, when he rated behind the leaders and rallied strongly to defeat future Haskell (G1) winner Authentic by 2 3/4 lengths.

Even more impressively, Honor A. P. posted triple-digit Brisnet Speed (108), E1 (101), E2 (108), and Late Pace (102) ratings. It’s rare for horses to exceed 100 in every category, which indicates just how fast Honor A. P. ran from start to finish in the Santa Anita Derby.

But Honor A. P.’s dominance makes the Shared Belief a tough race to bet. He’ll be an odds-on favorite, and if he runs back to his Santa Anita Derby effort, he’ll win for fun and produce short payoffs. How can we possibly extract wagering value from a small field with a heavy favorite?

The value might come from opposing #6 Cezanne for the runner-up spot. Sold for $3.65 million as a 2-year-old in training, the son of Curlin has gone 2-for-2 for trainer Bob Baffert. He won a maiden sprint at Santa Anita, then cruised to victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Los Alamitos.

But the quality of competition Cezanne has beaten is questionable, and he’ll step up in class for the Shared Belief.

His stablemate, #2 Thousand Words, is a better play, considering he won the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and Robert B. Lewis (G3) during the winter. Thousand Words seemed to burn out during the spring, but recently returned from a layoff to finish a game second in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3), which suggests he is progressing in the right direction again.

Let’s bet Honor A. P. on top of Thousand Words and Cezanne in a straight trifecta.

$25 trifecta: 5 with 2 with 6

Good luck!