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Pacific Classic could be emergence of superstar

Mike Smith victorious for Jim Rome owned Mizdirection hopes to do the same in Sunday's Pacific Classic at Del Mar
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Shared Belief could not only become the top 3-year old in the country but also the new superstar in racing. Owned by a partnership including Jim Rome, Shared Belief is undefeated in all of his starts and 2 for 2 this year. California Chrome stole most of the headlines with his magical Triple Crown attempt, but Shared Belief has quietly risen to each challenge and faces his toughest yet in Sunday's Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 24. A full field is expected for Del Mar's biggest race during their summer meet.

The biggest threat could come from defending champion Game On Dude. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Game On Dude electrified the crowd in last year's Classic with a dominant 8 1/2 length victory. There are questions as to whether Game On Dude still has the ability to run a field off its feet like he has done in the past. The task will be even tougher this time around as jockey Mike Smith,who has been the regular rider for 'Dude, has decided to ride Shared Belief in this year's race.

Both horses race on or near the front end so the possibility of speed duel would be a welcome site for other runners hoping to pull off an upset. Several horses with an off the pace running style are expected to be entered in Sunday's race. Imperative, trained by George Papaprodromou, has come a long way from when he was claimed. Imperative beat Game On Dude in the Charles Town Classic, April 19, and in the race caught the pace he and his connections wanted to see. Majestic Harbor, a son of Rockport Harbor, scored his biggest win over the main track at Santa Anita in the Gold Cup on June 28. With a jockey like the hungry and rejuvenated Tyler Baze, Majestic Harbor is improving at the right time and can capitalize if the top two are not in top form. Clubhouse Ride is a hard knocking horse trained by Craig Lewis. Clubhouse Ride runs similar efforts and is consistent but would need some racing luck to step up in this Grade 1 race.

The race on Del Mar's Polytrack will also present a twist to the race and how some will handle the surface. Some horses handle the surface very well as others struggle. All reports are the main contenders are handling the track and defending champ Game On Dude has already proven himself over the strip. Not to be outdone by his celebrity connections. Former New York Yankees manager and Hall of Famer Joe Torre is part owner of 'Dude. Big questions will be answered on Sunday, and if Shared Belief can handle the surface with a dominating victory then racing could have its new star.

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