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Shanghai Bobby Leads the Charge West

Shanghai Bobby wins 2012 Champagne.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese

 

Headlining the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Juvenile news this week is the confirmation that Shanghai Bobby is undoubtedly shipping west for the race. Anytime a horse like this grabs most of the attention it generally carries with it a very solid explanation. And sometimes, there’s more than just one reason. So, let’s look at what Shanghai Bobby is taking with him on his trip to Santa Anita.

 

 
The Todd Pletcher trained colt and son of Harlan’s Holiday received the majority of the early Juvenile consideration, but that’s what happens when you win the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race of the season. On September 3rd, a beautiful 3 ¾ length victory in the G2 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga set him up perfectly for a return in the G1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont. And last weekend Shanghai Bobby delivered.
 
 
In impressive fashion I might add. The jump in distance from 7 furlongs to 1 mile was never an issue. Under the steady hand of Rosie Napravnik in the saddle, Shanghai Bobby raced about as strong as Pletcher could have expected. Breaking in 2nd and remaining there until midway through the final turn almost everyone had to anticipate what was going to happen when they made their move; Shanghai Bobby began to put the field away. The final results list a 5 length victory and a final time of 1:35.55.
 
 
This should give an idea as to why this BC Juvenile and future Kentucky Derby hopeful has been dominating the coverage. But the final side note centers around Todd Pletcher. For the second time in three years Pletcher will be the trainer of the post time favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Following Uncle Mo to victory will be tested but when considering where things stand right now it is very probable that Shanghai Bobby will be the favorite.
 
 
My early thoughts on this colt is that number one I’m happy that Starlight Racing followed Pletcher’s instincts and decided to enter him in the Juvenile. There is always much speculation on this decision when you think you have a very strong Kentucky Derby contender. Except, I’m looking forward to seeing this horse enter and hopefully make a very fluid move to the next stage on the Road to the Derby. Secondly, I don’t see any issues with him adjusting to the travel or the dirt at Santa Anita. Finally, this will be his first race around two turns and I think he’s ready for the test. Which leads me to my only question; Does being ready for two turns mean I think he’s going to win? Not going to answer that question just yet.
 
 
Shifting gears to another horse that is likely to make a move from the East we turn to our G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner Joha. After scoring in the Colin Stakes at Woodbine, Joha was moved to Saratoga for his first against graded company, the G2 With Anticipation Stakes. Joha rated very well in that race but came up short and finished a close 2nd. However, when you consider that the winner is the highly regarded Juvenile on the turf, Balance the Books, it’s hard not to consider this race as a big stepping stone in the right direction.
 
 
That was proven last Saturday when he wired the field en route to stamping his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Bearing in mind the race was a Win & You’re In it’s easy to list Joha as probable, right? Why else would his connections enter him into the race unless that was the goal? Of course but there’s one more thing; Is Joha ready to race on dirt?
 
 
This Michael Maker trained colt has had a very interesting 2-yr-old racing season that has stretched over 4 separate tracks, 6 races and 5 jockey’s. So, my conclusion is why not keep the show on the road and add another premiere race where the entry fee has now been taken care of. Maker is a very smart trainer and I’d love to see him officially enter and give the dirt a go for the very first time because it always makes things more interesting.
 
 
What I liked about his win in the Breeders’ Futurity was his tenacity down the stretch and absolute refusal to give up the lead. Not sure what the pre-race instructions were but I give credit to Rajiv Maragh for staying with him on the lead and getting him to wire. Of course it’s always thrilling to see a horse make a sweeping move around the final turn from off the pace and get the best of the leaders in the stretch but its fun sometimes to see a horse refuse to lose. That’s what liked most about his win so I would love to see how he responds against a much better field in the Juvenile at the same exact distance of 1 1/16.
 
 
To finish out some might be wondering if anyone’s going with them. The pre-entry deadline for all Breeders’ Cup races is ten days away, Oct. 22, followed by the entry deadline on Oct. 29. This means we’ll know for sure very soon who’s going to be filing into Juvenile starting gate. But until we do, it’s pretty firm that these two horses are probable; Fortify (3rd Champagne Stakes) and Dynamic Sky (2nd Breeders’ Futurity). As for the any of the finishers in both stakes races it doesn’t look as certain. That includes Goldencents (2nd Champagne) and Archwarrior (4th Champagne) but then again it may be too early to tell. 

 

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Older Comments about Shanghai Bobby Leads the Charge West...

The Juvenile Turf, Sprint, Dirt options do make it hard to know where are these nice horses will run. No doubt several be pre-entered into more than one race, too.
The 2-year-old that impressed me the most at Keeneland was not Joha, but rather Balance the Books on the following day.

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