DEL MAR, CA – After over eight months of coming close but not close enough, trainer Bob Baffert’s Improbable finally returned to the winner’s circle after an impressive score in Sunday’s $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.

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Breaking well from the far outside post under Drayden Van Dyke as the 3/5 favorite in the four-horse field, Improbable sat just off of the right hip of early leader Lieutenant Dan. The pacesetter posted opening fractions of :23.17 and :46.63 before Improbable took command heading into the far turn.

Inching away as he rounded the corner, Improbable emerged onto the front stretch with an insurmountable lead. Held sway under steady handling, Improbale crossed with a 2 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:37.53 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.

“We were wanting to get him to break good and get position and he did that,” Van Dyke said. “He was a little more aggressive today; Bob 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, but he got to where he needed to be, then put in a very nice finish. He’s a nice horse.”

King Jack, stretching out to two turns for the first time, was too far back early and couldn’t get close enough to the winner to make a real challenge. He finished second, 6 1/4 lengths clear of a weakened Lieutenant Dan. Street Class, the last competitor to make the gate, was eased in the stretch after being distanced. Seven Scents and Stubbins were trainer scratches.

Improbable’s win was his first since taking the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity Stakes (G1) last December and improved his record to 8-4-2-0. The 3-year-old son of City Zip, purchased for $200,000 as a yearling, has now earned $829,520 for co-owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, and Starlight Racing.

“He got a little tough on the first turn, but I think that’s how he wants to run,” Baffert said. “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.”

Improbable returned $3.40 to win and $2.10 to place, while King Jack brought back $2.10 to place. There was no show wagering.