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Dueling Down The Stretch

2013 Holy Bull: Setting the Record Straight

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 Shanghai Bobby.
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. Frac Daddy, an impressive and gutsy second in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Dewey Square, third place in that very race, after closing like a freight train. Thirdly, Itsmyluckyday, 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 furlongs.
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.


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Older Comments about 2013 Holy Bull: Setting the Record Straight...

Bobby could get third and probably still have enough points. Itsmyluckyday would need to win or place, though. I do not mind either staying with their original plan, though I would like to see Bobby run back in the FOY w/o blinkers. I think that may help with his loafing on the lead, once he establishes a clear one. He is a horse that responds well to competition, with blinkers he cannot see the horse if they are slightly behind him nor even if they are abreast him. Take the blinkers off and he will be able to see them very clearly.
I saw where both Shanghai Bobby and Itsmyluckyday are going to wait for the Florida Derby. It will be a good rematch but probably a much better field. Since both will need to hit the board to be sure of a place in the Derby lineup, it seems very possible one of them will not have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field.
The winner came into this race out of two contests having paces of race no where close to the favorite. The favorite had gone three races in a row backwards against slower paces of race than most, but not all, in this race......THOSE were the only tangilbles that can be pointed out with any degree of substantiation.
the narrative fallacy at work.....ONE does not know WHY this or than happened (as if ALL things can be defined by a single reason) and then contructs some BS. reason to tell all why thier prediction did not come true.....Amazing
rfo321: As mentioned above, at this time Pletcher and the owners are staying with their original plan of going straight to the Florida Derby.
It was a warm and humid day and he looked lathered in the paddock and on the track. Napravnik opts for the lead rather than trust her riding skills.Interested in where he goes next
I liked what I saw at the end. Still keeping him on my radar
Looked good doing what? Showed no early speed, 5 1/2 back at 4f, 9 back at 6 and 28 at the finish.
Dewey still looked good to me.
Well written report, couldn't agree with you more. I wasn't a SB fan or detractor before the race, but I think he made me a fan now.
Guess we'll have to wait until Florida Derby for a rematch, looks like both sides are in contention with the idea from what I read over at Bloodhorse.
I agree, 8.5 for sure, and 9 looks pretty likely as well.
I think his connections could wait for the Florida Derby or go to the FOY. It would take a horrible trip or effort on his part to come in worse than top three in the Florida Derby. However, i could understand why they would want to be more cautious. Rafi, as i said, I am not going to make a judgement on his ability to handle 10f. It is a question. However, nobody can doubt his ability to handle 8.5f. And I think this run actually bodes well for his chances at 9f.
As a full on doubter of Shanghai Bobby, i can honestly say his performance in the Holy Bull was spectacular. If not for IMLD, we would all be talking about how much he KILLED the field. He ran a superb race, much better that I expected. I still don't think he will love ten furlongs, but that performance was impressive.
1st race after the layoff. Can't kill a horse for coming in 2nd, especially to an equally good horse. Nothing lost for Bobby.
I think Bobby ran a good race Saturday and is on schedule for the Derby. One thing though is that with 24 points and only one more prep they are putting all the eggs in one basket. If he doesn't hit the board in the Florida Derby he might not make the Derby field. I believe it will take a couple of years for trainers to adjust to the new system, but if it encourages connections to run their horses more often it will be a good thing.
Shanghai Bobby is another Uncle Mo. Tremendous at 7,8, and 8.5f and that will be all.
Brian, while i understand that, most were saying that your question was already answered, saying that the race showed he could not handle distances. My point is that is a false accusation at this point. He handled the 8.5f just fine. His ability at 10f, like every other 3yr old pointing to the Derby is still unknown.
I will give the winner his due and fair credit, however, Bobby lost absolutely nothing in defeat. He stayed with the eventual winner until mid-stretch before relenting, and as the author noted, narly a dozen lengths clear of the show horse. The top two finishers in Saturday's Holy Bull will likely face each other again in the Florida Derby, where we possibly could see the placings reversed
I think most of us expected Shanghai Bobby to run well yesterday, Laura, but the real question is whether he can transfer his good form at 1 1/16 miles over a speed favoring surface to ten furlongs at Churchill Downs.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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