Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
and everything can change on the road to the Kentucky Derby in the blink of an eye.
Right now however, the 2013 trail for Shanghai Bobby seems to have been decided. Its name is Gulfstream Park. Specifically, all signs point to only two preps. The first is will be the G3 Holy Bull Stakes followed by the meet's feature race,
the G1 Florida Derby.
route without pointing out the difference between the old qualification system
versus the new one is impossible. So, let’s start right there. If this were
last year Shanghai Bobby would already be a lock for a qualifying position in the
2013 Kentucky Derby. That was when graded stakes earnings did all the
talking. Based on how much he’s already been awarded his spot could only be
scratched in two different ways; a decision by his connections or an untimely
and unfortunate set back. However, that qualifying system is out.
is the inaugural year for the points system we unfortunately don’t have a single a year to compare Shanghai
Bobby’s traveled path and upcoming journey to. Instead, we can only speculate on
what decisions his connections will make if things don’t go as planned. Right
now Shanghai Bobby is in the driver’s seat with 20 Points. Leading all Juvenile’s
is very comfortable but there’s still speculation on how many more points he’s
going to need.
have any uncertainty about how much fun the 2013 Prep season is going to be. While it’s going to be exciting to see our hopefuls travel through these uncharted waters it might also drive me nuts because I can’t wait to
find out how many points will earn that final post position. For now your guess
is as good as mine so for the purpose of the scenarios I’m going to roll out let’s
just say that it’s somewhere between 40 to 50 points.
system is structured into 4 separate series’ or categories. The first, known as
the Kentucky Derby Prep Season, is active right now and will remain in play
until the Risen Star Stakes on February 3. Therefore, first through fourth place finishers in the Holy Bull will also earn points
on the scale of 10-4-2-1. As for the Risen Star Stakes the points increase to 50-20-10-5 up until the Louisiana Derby. This is where the Major Derby Preps are raced. Things will heat up inside the second leg of
the Kentucky Derby Championship Series because this is when the biggest points will also be awarded - 100-40-20-10.
From the assumption that Todd Pletcher and Starlight Racing Stable are targeting
only the Holy Bull Stakes and the Florida Derby then here are the point totals that he could score. Keep in mind that a win in the Florida
Derby should be considered an automatic qualifier so that has been removed from
any of the scenarios below.
in the Holy Bull
or 3rd place finish in the Florida Derby = 70 or 60 points
Holy Bull 2nd,
3rd or 4th place finish
place in the Florida Derby = 64, 62 or 61 points
Holy Bull 2nd,
3rd, or 4th place finish (or worse)
place Finish in the Florida Derby = 44, 42 or 41 points (or 40 points)
On the Bubble
in the Holy Bull
place finish in the Florida Derby = 40 points
On the Bubble
Anything less than what was mentioned above means trouble because the total will be less than 40
points. I’ve heard speculation that 40 points will get you in but for some
reason I’m finding that to be too low. If so, the last scenario could also
leave Shanghai Bobby out and a Wild Card race, The Derby Trial or Lexington Stakes,
would have to be used if Pletcher determines that the Kentucky Derby is still the goal.
these scenarios down a little further. Again, this is all based on the assumption
that Shanghai Bobby will skip the first
leg of the Championship Series after the Holy Bull Stakes and not race again until
the Florida Derby.
My conclusion is that if Shanghai Bobby shows rust
in the Holy Bull Stakes and doesn’t win then no one should be overly concerned. He’s still in good hands and will have plenty of time to recover.
However, Todd Pletcher may have to make a revised decision on Bobby's next race. Waiting for the Florida Derby will be long, his ranking will drop and a lot more pressure will be added. Before the Major Preps begin there will be several
derby contenders closing in on 20 points or passing that total. This is why Todd Pletcher may choose to add another race between the Holy
Bull and Florida Derby. It may be a wise decision and an attempt to score more assurance points before the
Major Prep season begins.
This is why
a win in the Holy Bull will be very important and worth more
than some might be estimating. It will bring him to 30 points and protect the two prep plan. Todd Pletcher will also benefit because it will give him more time and breathing room to prepare for the
seen time and time again a horse that may look the best in the Major Preps
doesn’t always have the ability to find that form again in the Kentucky Derby.
In fact, it’s become obvious that a horse that finishes close behind the winner
in those races has a very probable chance of finding another gear the next time
out. This is why I believe that if Shanghai Bobby wins the Holy Bull and comes
back to duel to no worse than 3rd in the Florida Derby he should
still be considered a top 5 contender. Qualification will be secured and he will have his chance to become the best 3-yr-old in the world.
one thing that trumps all of this. It has everything to do with the veterans
that are handling Shanghai Bobby. Something that I have always admired about the
sport is the top trainers and owners and how they operate. All of these
scenarios could be null and void in an instant because they’re always thinking
way ahead. Probably further ahead than we give them credit for. Although the qualification
system has changed, the way in which Todd Pletcher is handling his colt’s path
towards May remains the same. He’s prepared to send Shanghai Bobby to the
Kentucky Derby on the trail that was devised originally but he’s always prepared
to reroute if necessary. If he isn’t pleased with what he sees then I would say
that such an occurrence is still standard business for him and
Starlight Racing. The Florida Derby is more important than the Holy Bull and
the Kentucky Derby is always the ultimate goal. Getting there is something that
they are good at. So, without putting their horses in harm’s way, they will be ready to
accomplish that feat and put their star Juvenile’s in the best possible
position to win.
There's also the likelyhood that nothing in 2013 will turn out the way I'm thinking that it might. But, that's only part of the wild ride to the Kentucky Derby. It should be a blast so hang on for what could be a dynamic journey for Shanghai Bobby and all of the other Kentucky Derby contenders.