Many conclusions can be drawn from Saturday, some justified
and others based purely on bias. A well-drawn conclusion would be that a new
and dangerous face has emerged on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Another would
be we may have witnessed the birth of a great American female sprinter. One
conclusion with no merit, however, is the “exposed distance limitations” of
Let us examine the Holy Bull pre-race, during the race, and post-race.
Pre Holy Bull, it was no secret that Shanghai Bobby would be in for a stern
test. His task was made even harder once he drew the inside post in a 10 horse
field. Drawing that post would give him two options. Go to the front and set
the pace, subjecting him to pressure the entire race….or break well stay back
and potentially risk getting boxed the entire race.
Besides that issue, he was facing three new daunting faces.
, an impressive and gutsy second in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Dewey Square
, third place in that very race, after closing like a freight train.
, the jaw dropping winner of the Gulfstream Park Derby.
The latter came into the race with some of the fastest speed figures and off the
most visually impressive performance of the three.
During the race, jockey Rosie Napravnik elected to let
Shanghai Bobby run away from the one post. He grabbed the lead quickly, but was
pressured through solid opening fractions of 23.34, 46.68, and 1.10.69. While
the first quarter and half seemed on par with the rest of the two turn
fractions run that day, the six furlong split was considerably faster. Others
that same day ran their six furlong splits at 1.11.65, 1.11.08, and 1.13.58. As
can be seen, that split was considerably faster than any other six furlong
split going two turns, on the main course.
Normally, in a race, with less than three eighths left to run, a
jockey will allow their horse to move away from the field. However, Napravnick
didn’t give Bobby his cue, due to his habit of getting lazy once establishing a
clear lead. However, the same was not true for Elvis Trujillo aboard
Itsmyluckyday, who had been sitting, stalking in third. The son of Lawyer Ron,
collared his classy opponent turning for home, and despite Shanghai Bobby’s
game response, Itsmyluckyday still prevailed. He would hit the wire two lengths
better than Shanghai Bobby, while also besting the track record for 8.5
Normally a horse doesn’t have to run a near track record
performance to win their first start back, but this was not the case. However,
what seems to have gone unnoticed by the masses is that, not only did it take a
track record to beat Shanghai Bobby, but that he finished over 11 lengths clear
of the nearest competitor. All of the other horses that were supposedly going
to beat him were left reeling.
Post-race, did Shanghai Bobby have any excuses? No he did
not. But to say his fractions were average or that anything about his race was
average is simply wrong. After nearly three months off, he returned against
what was a loaded field, was dealt the one hole, and was dealing with the dreaded Breeders' Cup Bounce. Even with all of that against him, he made some very
promising horses look like claimers, and the one horse that did finish ahead of
him was pushed to a track record.
That does not spell limitations. That performance shows just
how good of horse Shanghai Bobby is, and showed that it took a monster of a
horse and a monster of an effort to beat him. He loses nothing in defeat.