Jim Rome Has Early Derby Favorite, Clones Shared Belief

Michael DempseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2013

Jim Rome owns the early Kentucky Derby favorite.
Jim Rome owns the early Kentucky Derby favorite.Kelvin Kuo

Jim Rome and his clones may be heading to Louisville next spring for the Kentucky Derby after Shared Belief remained undefeated with an authoritative five three-fourths-length victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park on Saturday.

Rome is no stranger to success at the highest levels of horse racing, winning the last two runs of the Grade 1, Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, and now, he has a serious contender for the Run for the Roses.

The gelding was sent off as the even-money favorite in the field of 12 in the CashCall Futurity, the final graded race to be run at the historic track, which closes its doors for good on Dec. 22.

Listed at 7-2 on the morning line, it appeared Rome’s clones had plenty of confidence, and the gelding broke from the gate as the heavy favorite despite it being his first time around two turns.

Under a confident ride from Corey Nakatani, the gelding tracked the early pace toward the inside, came with a three-wide bid exiting the far turn and drew away from long-shot Candy Boy and the rest of the field.

Saturday’s victory earned the colt a 106 Beyer Speed Figure, which topped the previous high for a juvenile in 2013—earned by Havana at Saratoga in his debut on Aug. 23.

The gelding was privately purchased by his current connections (Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC, KMN Racing LLC, Jason Litt, Alex Solis II and George Todaro) after his maiden score on Oct. 19 at Golden Gate Fields. The gelding won his debut by seven lengths.

The biggest share of the horse is reportedly owned by Rome’s Jungle Racing.

He made his stakes debut in the Grade 3, Hollywood Prevue on Nov. 10 and, again, was much the best, drawing clear in the stretch to win by 7 and three-fourths lengths with plenty left in the tank.

“I said after Mizdirection won her first Breeders’ Cup (Turf Sprint), no matter what happened after that, I was fine,’’ Rome told the Hollywood Park publicity department after the race. “The second one was amazing and today was obviously a really incredible day.’’

The early Kentucky Derby odds on Shared Belief were 30-1 as of Dec. 8, according to Wynn Race & Sportsbook, but the odds are already plummeting.

At Sportsbook.ag, his odds were 15-1 on Saturday night and, by Sunday morning, had dropped to 7-1.  The gelding closed at 32-1 in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closed on Nov. 30.  The gelding is currently listed at 10-1 betting odds at kentukcyderbyodds.ca.

He will be stabled at Santa Anita and likely will be pointed toward the Kentucky Derby preps there. His next start could come in the Grade 2, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 8. The other key Derby preps in Southern California are the Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe on March 8 and Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

Rome’s clones are already making reservations.