LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) — Shared Belief beat Candy Boy by 4 1/4 lengths to win the $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby for 3-year-olds on Saturday and improve to 5-0 in his career.
Ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Shared Belief ran his first race on dirt, covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.01 and paying $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10 as the 7-10 favorite. Smith was aboard for the first time for co-owner and sports talk host Jim Rome.
“A Derby is a Derby,” Rome said. “It may not be the Kentucky Derby, but I’m going to take a Derby win any way I can get it.”
Among the 3-year-old gelding’s other owners are Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Alex Solis II, the son of the Hall of Fame jockey.
“Good race,” Hollendorfer said. “I was a little anxious to get this one out of the way and see if he could handle dirt and the mile and an eighth. I thought I had him prepared and apparently he was because he won pretty much in hand.”
Shared Belief, last year’s champion 2-year-old, has won his races by a combined 28 3/4 lengths. The victory, worth $300,000, increased his career earnings to $772,200.
“That horse is a freak,” said Larry Benavidez, assistant to John Sadler, who trains Candy Boy.
Candy Boy returned $3.60 and $2.60 in his first start since finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby on May 3. Tonito M., also trained by Hollendorfer, was another 7 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $5 to show.
The Grade 2 race was known as the Swaps Stakes when it was run at now-closed Betfair Hollywood Park from 1974-2013. It’s the first leg of the $1 million Bolton Challenge. Shared Belief is now eligible for a seven-figure bonus if he wins the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 24 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
FriendswithK Mill was fourth, followed by Bob Baffert-trained Can the Man, Top Fortitude and Eddie’s First.