Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has never won the Kentucky Derby despite over 6,500 career wins.
Elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in 2011, Hollendorfer had a very good chance to win the roses back in 1998 with Event of the Year. Unfortunately, the colt broke his leg during a workout at Churchill Downs the week before the race.
Hollendorfer has started four horses in the Kentucky Derby with his most flattering result coming in 2009 when Chocolate Candy finished fifth. Fast forward five years later and he has the most impressive 3-year-old in 2014.
Shared Belief has won all three of his starts by a combined 20 1/2 lengths. Not only does he blow away his competition, but he also accelerates into the stretch as quickly as any 3-year-old in recent memory.
The son of Candy Ride broke his maiden at first asking with a seven-length romp at Golden Gate Fields on Oct. 19. He then was purchased by a group that included national broadcaster Jim Rome, who also owned two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection. Hollendorfer seized control of the training and the gelding went on to win a pair of stakes at Hollywood Park with complete authority.
As with any 3-year-old at this time of the year, there are question marks that must be answered before anointing a horse as the next coming of Secretariat.
Shared Belief has yet to race on dirt as all three of his starts came over synthetic surfaces at Golden Gate and Hollywood. Still, his sire, Candy Ride, was unbeaten on dirt, including a victory in the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic. In addition, his half-sister, Little Miss Holly, has a pair of wins on the dirt, one of them in the Iowa Oaks and the other in an allowance race at Churchill Downs.
Some experts question Shared Belief's ability to get the demanding 10 furlongs of the Kentucky Derby, especially since his pedigree is extremely similar to that of Sidney's Candy. That colt also was by Candy Ride out of a Storm Cat mare.
However, Sidney's Candy, who did not race around two turns until March of his 3-year-old season, was extremely difficult to rate unlike Shared Belief, who has not had the early lead in any of his three career efforts.
Another negative I have overheard is the fact Shared Belief is a gelding. That once was a huge downgrade for a prospective Kentucky Derby winner as no gelding won the race between 1930 and 2002. Nevertheless, two geldings took home the roses in the last 11 years - Mine That Bird in 2009 and Funny Cide in 2003.
The one thing (if there is any) to be a tad worried about is a recent right foot issue that forced Shared Belief to miss a workout earlier this month.
THE HOLY BULL STAKES
A quality-laden field of 11 colts and geldings are entered for Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Cairo Prince, second to Honor Code in last year's Remsen Stakes, is the likely favorite, but do not discard a few legitimate contenders.
Coup de Grace has the benefit of breaking from the rail and should sit behind the early speed for much of the 1 1/16-mile event. The son of Tapit has tons of ability and a great chance to win if he can hold off the Prince.
Mr Speaker makes his first start on dirt after winning his last two on the turf, including the Dania Beach Stakes He is handled by Shug McGaughey, who trained Orb to win last year's Kentucky Derby.
Conquest Titan ran one of the most dominant 2-year-old races last time out at Churchill Downs, coming from off the pace to defeat future Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod. Unfortunately, post position nine could be a problem, especially with the short Gulfstream Park stretch.
One of the longer-priced horses to watch is Our Caravan. The bay colt ran impressively well breaking his maiden over the track at 35-1 in mid-December and could upset the field at huge odds once again.
Holy Bull - (1) Coup de Grace (2) Cairo Prince (3) Mr Speaker (LS) Our Caravan
THE JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN" FOR 2014
Even though it is still January, the "Dirty Dozen" is always on top of the action. Last year, the initial list had the eventual Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul in the top spot, while the final list had the Kentucky Derby winner Orb as the second choice behind Verrazano.
Furthermore, the top five horses in the final 2012 "Dirty Dozen" were I'll Have Another (first), Bodemeister (second), Union Rags (seventh), Dullahan (third) and Creative Cause (fifth).
This year sports a very deep class of 3-year-olds. Considering this is the first article of the new campaign, here are 10 more horses (listed in alphabetical order) to keep an eye on over the next three months: Baratti, Candy Boy, Commanding Curve, Commissioner, Hartford, In Trouble, Noble Moon, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, Unknown Road and Vicar's in Trouble.
1) Shared Belief - Eclipse Award winner could be special
2) Honor Code - Needs to improve gate speed over the winter
3) Coup de Grace - Puts undefeated record on line Saturday
4) Cairo Prince - Only a nose prevents an unbeaten record
5) Mr Speaker - Breeding suggests he should like dirt
6) Midnight Hawk - Still very green after two starts
7) Top Billing - Runs Saturday against Surfing U S A
8) Bayern - Impressive debut, but it came as a 3-year-old
9) Havana - Hasn't worked since running second in BC Juvenile
10) Strong Mandate - Must overcome inconsistency this year
11) Bourbonize - Looked good winning second start at Oaklawn
12) Our Caravan - Will see what he is made of in Holy Bull