Improbable, who went postward the 4-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby last spring, returned to competition Sunday with an easy victory in the featured $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes for 3-year-olds.at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.
Improbable, out of action since the May 18 Preakness Stakes in which he was sixth behind War of Will after being placed fourth via disqualification in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier, breezed to the lead under jockey Drayden Van Dyke on the far turn and had plenty left to resist the stretch challenge of previously unbeaten King Jack.
The chestnut son of City Zip, trained by Bob Baffert for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Starlight Racing, reached the finish 2 3/4 lengths in front, timed in 1:37.53 for the mile on the main dirt track. He went postward as the 3-5 favorite.
King Jack, an impressive winner of his only two starts, was second choice at even-money under Mike Smith, but was unable to mount a serious threat to the winner while finishing six and one-quarter lengths ahead of third-place Lieutenant Dan. Fourth and last was Street Class who was eased in the stretch.
Withdrawn from the event were Seven Scents and Stubbins.
Improbable, scoring his first win since the Los Alamitos Futurity in December of last year, earned $60,000 with his fourth win in eight starts and now has a bankroll of $829,520. He returned $3.40 and $2.10, while King Jack paid $2.10 to place. Because of the small field, there was no show wagering.
Racing resumes at Del Mar Wednesday with first post-time at 2 p.m. Featured will be the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for California-bred two-year-old fillies.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Improbable, winner) – “We were wanting to get him to break good and get position and he did that. He was a little more aggressive today; Bob (trainer Baffert) told me he put a bigger blinker on him today and he might be that way. I was working with him on the backside; it's give and take (rating a horse that wants to go). But he got to where he needed to be, then put in a very nice finish. He's a nice horse.”
MIKE SMITH (King Jack, second) – “A good try for my horse. I couldn't pass him (the winner), I tried, but….”
BOB BAFFERT (Improbable, winner) – “I put the blinkers back on him and told Drayden (Van Dyke) to send him. He got a little tough on the first turn, but I think that's how he wants to run. Just let him go. I was really happy with it. It took him a little while to come back and get used to this track. I still thought, even after his last work, that he wasn't quite ready. But his class carried him. ”
FRACTIONS: :23.17 :46.63 1:10.75 1:23.68 1:37.5
The stakes win was the third of the meeting, but first in the Shared Belief for rider Van Dyke. He now has 28 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the third of the meeting, but eighth in the Shared Belief for trainer Baffert. He now has 131 stakes wins at Del Mar, far and away the most by any trainer.
The winning owners are WinStar Farm (Kenny Troutt of Versailles, KY), China Horse Club International (Teo Ah Khing with a business address of Tipperary, Ireland) and Starlight Racing (Jack Wolfe of Lexington, KY).
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