The road that leads to Kentucky Derby 146 has been full of twists and turns in 2020. But then again…everything in life has been full of twists and turns in 2020. One runner in the fast lane towards the twin spires is looking for something we all need, success and some Shared Belief.
Now that the soap box has been put away, let’s talk about a brilliant three-year old colt named Honor A.P. This son of Honor Code is like all the other contenders for the world’s most famous race in that his bid for immortality has been altered. Winning the Kentucky Derby is perhaps the tallest task in the Thoroughbred game and the re scheduling has made it like virtually everything else…different.
Trainer John Shirreffs has long been a guy that can get his charge to perform with excellence. Perhaps his greatest training feat was guiding the fabulous Zenyatta to 19 consecutive wins. And there was also his boy Giacomo that won the 2005 Kentucky Derby at odds of 50-1 with a huge late move. Many other grade 1 wins on the West Coast and beyond speaks to his ability to condition at the highest level.
Most of the traditional major prep races for the Kentucky Derby have all been run and Honor A.P. put his talent on display. In winning the re scheduled Santa Anita Derby on June 6, the CRK Stable’s owned prize perpetuated Shirreffs’ patience with his pupil. Hoping to build stamina as a foundation for classic distance race success, the crafty conditioner saw his plan executed with a huge stretch move in the mile and an eighth Santa Anita Derby.
“We were very happy with his Santa Anita Derby run,” says Shirreffs. “After the San Felipe in March we had to kind of slow things back down because of the re scheduling of the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby. We are very proud of how he responded.”
In providing Shirreffs with his third Santa Anita Derby win, all the integers added up for the veteran trainer as the sweeping move under jockey Mike Smith had “mile and a quarter no problem” written all over it. Running past the very talented and Bob Baffert trained Authentic, Honor A.P. won by a widening 2 ¾ lengths. In picking up his second career win in four starts with two second place finishes, this Kentucky-bred did his momma (Hollywood Story) proud.
Understanding training up to the September 5 Kentucky Derby would be a tall task, the Kansas native will send out Honor A.P. in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar on August 1. Run at a mile and a sixteenth, Shirreffs will look to further sharpen Honor A.P. as they run for the roses.
“He’s doing great right now,” says Shirreffs, who began his training career in 1978. “His last work on Sunday was strong and he covered the final eighth nicely.”
Named for the 2014 Pacific Classic winner, the Shared Belief Stakes will be contested at Del Mar on August 1. A strong but compact field is expected as highly touted Bob Baffert trainees Thousand Words and Cezzane are schedulted to join Honor A.P. in the starting gates.