By J.J. Hysell
Shared Belief, the undefeated 2-year-old male champion, is rightfully heralded as a top Kentucky Derby contender. Some hoof issues, an interruption in training and a questionable pedigree for dirt and the Derby distance, however, leave many question marks.
Shared Belief might not be trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s best hope for a Kentucky Derby contender. Hollendorfer has a 3-year-old entered Saturday who fits the profile of a long-distance runner on dirt with some potential.
Little Curlin, set to make his third start in the six-furlong second race at Santa Anita, is still a maiden, but he drew attention after his last race. He encountered traffic trouble en route to a fast-closing third behind winner Roger Rocket and Ferocious. The race was five and a half furlongs, obviously shorter than what this long-striding son of Curlin needs. He displayed talent in his debut at Keeneland in October, a race won by Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod. Little Curlin rallied to finish fourth on the synthetic despite the far outside post in the seven-furlong test.
Little Curlin faces an uphill battle to make the Derby field, as he’s short on time and has no points. It’s also not encouraging to see him entered in a sprint again instead of stretching out. Still, he should be more effective at longer distances and will give a better indication of where he stands progress-wise on Saturday.