Shanghai Bobby is set to run at Gulfstream Park Saturday wearing the
figurative crown of a champion. Honored as the country’s outstanding
2-year-old of 2012 at last weekend’s Eclipse Awards ceremony, the Todd
Pletcher-trained colt will begin a quest for a more elusive crown in the
$400,000 Holy Bull (G3), a major prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby
(G1) and, ultimately, the Triple Crown.
The winter book favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby in the
aftermath of an undefeated five-race juvenile season, Shanghai Bobby
will make one of the most anticipated 3-year-old debuts in recent years
in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull. Pletcher is keenly aware that fans will
venture to Gulfstream Saturday counting on the son of Harlan’s Holiday
to produce yet another exciting performance.
“Expectations are pretty high, so we have to make sure we’ve done
our job properly and put him in a position where he will perform to the
best of his capabilities,” Pletcher said.
Shanghai Bobby has shown that he is capable of some pretty special
things thus far in his career, including a thrilling and courageous
triumph in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita
that capped a brilliant 2012 campaign.
The Kentucky-bred colt had merely outclassed his competition in his
first four starts, including commanding triumphs in the Hopeful (G2) and
Champagne Stakes (G1), but he was forced to dig deep to stage a winning
rally in the Juvenile in his first race around two turns. After losing
his focus when suddenly inheriting the lead at the top of the stretch,
Shanghai Bobby eased himself up and was headed by He’s Had Enough.
Despite losing his momentum, he met the challenge and fought back to
maintain his undefeated record by a head.
“I’m impressed the way he’s been able to handle everything we’ve
thrown at him,” Pletcher said. “He’s won at Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga,
Santa Anita, and he seems to handle every surface we’ve put him on.
He’s handled shipping cross-country; he’s handled two turns. So he’s
been a real pleasure to train.”
Pletcher has been extremely pleased with Shanghai Bobby’s preparation for his 2013 debut.
“He’s doing great. He’s grown up, filling out, all the things you
want to see from him going into his 3-year-old year,” the defending
nine-time Gulfstream training champion said.
Rosie Napravnik, who has been aboard for all five wins, will travel from Fair Grounds for the return mount on Shanghai Bobby.
“I think she’s an exceptional rider. Her record pretty much speaks
for itself,” Pletcher said. “She rode him the first time at Aqueduct in
April, and she’s had a perfect record on him. You can’t ask for more
Pletcher has been the most dominant trainer in racing for the past
decade, but his lofty status doesn’t preclude a few pre-race jitters.
“Any time you have an undefeated champion, you want to make sure you
have him properly prepared,” the five-time Eclipse Award-winning
trainer said. “So there’s always a little added anxiety when you’re
running one that has a resume like his. But it’s a position you want to