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Pedigree Power

Shanghai Bobby Racing Against History

The Holy Bull Stakes (G-3) is Florida's first major contest on the Kentucky Derby trail. Starlight Racing and Todd Pletcher played the spoilers in last year's Holy Bull with Algorithms, handing Juvenile Champ Hanson the first defeat of his career. This year, the shoe is on the other hoof. Pletcher sends Starlight Racing's undefeated Eclipse Award winner Shanghai Bobby into the Holy Bull as the likely favorite. 
History is against Shanghai Bobby winning his first start as a three year old. In the last 28 years, nine winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile were victorious in their initial start as sophomores. Of those nine, only three won a graded stakes contest. One horse, Vindication, never raced again after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

It seems that later is better when it comes to Breeders' Cup Juvenile champs starting their three year old season. None of the nine colts who began their three year old campaign with a victory raced before February. The earliest success belonged to Fly So Free, who won the 1990 Hutcheson Stakes (G-3) when it was held in early February.

During the last decade, four of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile champs won their next start. Only Street Sense faced competition in a graded stakes when he won the Tampa Bay Derby (G-3). Midshipman didn't start again until winning an Allowance race the following September in Dubai.

The connections of War Pass and Uncle Mo took the easy way out in facing inferior competition in their initial three year old starts. War Pass faced four colts, only one of whom had won a stakes race.
Uncle Mo Juvenile ChampionThe power of Pletcher was evident in 2011 when Gulfstream Park created The Timely Writer, a stakes race written specifically for the undefeated Uncle Mo. Like War Pass, Uncle Mo faced four over-matched competitors, none of whom had more than a maiden win to their name. Both War Pass and Uncle Mo lost subsequent starts against higher class foes. To be fair to Uncle Mo, it was discovered that he suffered from a liver ailment after his first defeat.

In this year's Holy Bull, Shanghai Bobby faces a larger and deeper field than Hansen did last year. Hansen's two most accomplished rivals were three-time state-bred stakes winner Fort Loudon and listed stakes winner My Adonis. Hansen placed second to Algorithms, a young, promising colt with only two wins under his girth. Shanghai Bobby on the other hand, will face Kentucky Jockey Club (G-2) runners-up Frac Daddy and Dewey Square, Delta Jackpot (G-3) runner-up Bern Identity, Gulfstream Derby hero Itsmyluckyday, Seacliff Stakes winner Sr. Quisqueyano, and the stakes placed Clearly Now and Fredericksburg, as well as the improving allowance winner Tulira Castle and the state-bred stakes placed Joshua's Compromise.
If the history of Two Year Old Champs losing in their first starts as three year olds continues, Shanghai Bobby could taste defeat for the first time and be deposed as the early Kentucky Derby leader.

Below is a list of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners, the date of their subsequent start, race and how they finished.









Holy Bull Stakes G2



Uncle Mo


Timely Writer Stakes



Vale Of York


Listed Stakes (Meydan)





Allowance/Optional Claim



War Pass





Street Sense


Tampa Bay Derby G3



Stevie Wonderboy


San Rafael Stakes G2





Hollywood Futurity G1



Action This Day


Sham Stakes (ungraded)










Gladness Stakes



Macho Uno







San Felipe Stakes G2



Answer Lively


Lecomte Handicap



Favorite Trick


Swale Stakes G3



Boston Harbor


Santa Catalina Stakes



Unbridled's Song


Hutcheson Stakes G3



Timber Country


San Rafael Stakes G2





Hollywood Futurity



Gilded Time


BC Sprint





Prix Omnium II (listed)



Fly So Free


Hutcheson Stakes G3





Hutcheson Stakes G3



Is It True





Success Express


Hollywood Futurity





Gotham G2





Manassa Mauler Stakes



Chief's Crown


Swale Stakes (ungraded)



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Older Comments about Shanghai Bobby Racing Against History...

I agree with dani. Bobby is similar to the Biscuit where he seems to enjoy a challenge. He seems to not like having a horse pass him. I think that he lost focus when on the lead and was not sure what to do now that he had the lead. As soon as he saw HHE come close to him- he was sort of like "Oh crap I have to run again- no way I let this guy pass me". He also showed he had that extra kick left in him when running very close to the flying pace with title contender at the begging of the race. Can this horse get the distance? Not sure yet. But is the Juvenile an accurate race to justify that he can't? No.
dani.pugh, I am very glad that I took the time to read your posts today. It allowed me the chance to revisit the entire race with a different mindset. As most who are looking to beat the favorite for a payoff one still must make the best decision no matter what the payoff is offering. I dont like going into a race being "afraid" of any horse so I went back and forgot about Bobbys name and the fact that he is the favorite. He will be on my exotics. Thanks again for your posts.
His pedigree looks like 8-9 to me. The FL Derby will tell us a lot on his distance ability. His pedigree supports my opinion, that 9 is his topping point. His pedigree only shows the ability to SURVIVE ten. I think when he gets older he could be a top level miler. However, according to some people, he is being retired after his three year old year.
Look at Lou Gehrig's parents, Eienstein's parents, Derek Jeter's mom and dad....the list is long....John Henry's sire
rafi, while orientate and carson city are there look a little farther back on that sid of his pedigree. He does have a few farther back that won at 9f or over. You did mention affirmed, he has secretariat, but as i said that can go either way. When looked at closely, his pedigree shows 9f as more of a potential topping point. Based off of last year, and assuming he moves forward I do think he could be one that outruns his pedigree. However, that like many is still an if.
THIS is an individual, UNIQUE in all the world. What his parents did is mutually exclusive to the INDIVIDUAL
Well. I am one of those look at the dam for stamina, sire for speed. His dam side is filled with sprinting type horses. The dam is from great sprinter, Orientate. And Carson City, who generally his descendents are middle distance horses, but there are exceptions. His sire generally is 8-9 furlongs, and Harlan same. Storm Cat has some hot blooded. The one stamina influence close is Affirmed, but most ten furlong type horses have more than one stamina influence in the first 3 generations.
Still don't thing we have see Shanghai Bobby's best yet. Watching his races, I have have hardly seen his ears drop yet. If anything, he seemed bored in the Juvenile and just stopped running. Once the others caught him, he took off and won. Not easy to just go like that. Every now and then there are freaks who outrun their pedigree.
That is the question with every baby after its 3rd official birthday: WE DO NOT KNOW who will step forward and who will stay themselves.
Rafi, I wonder how you came to that conclusion about his pedigree. There are influences there, however EQ himself sires horses that are best between 8-9f. His dam and his broodmare sires were best going sprints. Smile was second in the BC Sprint at three and then won it the next year. As i said there were influences, but none that were extremely strong. Most horses trace to Norther Dancer, so that i normally don't count. He did have Secretariat, however i have see foals that trace to him go either way. He had In Reality on his dam's side, but again I have seen horses go either way with him in their blood. I would not have completely discounted him. But, like bobby, others have pedigrees stronger for it.
Still don't thing we have see Shanghai Bobby's best yet. Watching his races, I have have hardly seen his ears drop yet. If anything, he seemed bored in the Juvenile and just stopped running. Once the others caught him, he took off and won. Not easy to just go like that. Every now and then there are freaks who outrun their pedigree.
This race is very talented. So even if he get second or third, I still won't dismiss him completely from the nine furlong picture, or ten. Horses are indivuals, as you pointed out. Pedigree means a small amount, but it is an indication of a horse's chances going long or going on a new surface. We must see how Shanghai Bobby does at that nine furlong threshold. If he gets beat by two lengths or more in the FL derby, I would take him out of the ten furlong picture completely. I had Smarty Jones that year, I actually thought his pedigree and figures would get him by the ten furlongs. I have only hit 3 out of the last 10 derbies, but he was one of them.
He is a wait and see for me. A horse will go only as far as it wants to. His breeding is not ideal, however, neither was Smarty Jones. Smarty didn't impress anyone with figures, and even after a 9f victory he still have some very loud doubters that pointed to his pedigree. I'm waiting to see how he does here. If he does well, and by that even a close second or third, I'll wait to see how he runs going 9f. At this point it all chance with these babies. Some have a better chance than others, but overall, it is just chance.
First off. Yes, he was about a neck when he engaged again, but he opened a little on HHE, about a 1/2 length. After those couple strides, HHE was closing the gap again. There were many factors to give him credit, however. But, the pace wasn't one of them. The track was playing to the front runners all day. Plus, he was behind a horse or two most of they way. We must give him credit for delayed travel, no works on track, no lasix, two turns, and the big crowd. He really has a fighting heart, and style. Inexperienced overtook him in the SA stretch, and we should only expect those habits (distraction, lack of focus) to go away while he matures. I think he could be decent at 9, but I think 10 will prove out of his range. How do you think his chances are at 10, dani?
rafirox, don't mind debates as long as they are fair. I remember HHE being closer than half a length, maybe a short neck from Bobby when he engaged again. Also, one thing you must take into account. When running a distance, to get stopped, after going for most of the distance, then to start back up is a very hard thing to do. It isn't like coming out of the gate or off the blocks. You have just spent the majority of the race running, so you do not have the engery you did towards the beginning, making it harder to speed back up, let alone go the speed you were going before. If bobby runs that race and doesn't lose focus, he probably finishes 3 lengths in front of the field, cruising. That didn't happen. He lost focused, stopped, then had to try and match a horse that had all the momentum. He did, and that takes a tremendous amount of energy. Much more than just continuing at the same rate. So, while he lost ground, I look at the fact that one he was already tracking some hot fractions, two used a tremendous amount of energy to engage HHE, who had all the momentum after he stopped and waited for the field. That tells me that 8.5f, run at his normal continuous rate is not an issue. It also gives me reason to believe 9f is within his scope.
Dani, I enjoy participating on my first DEBATE EVER on Bobby, lol. I think your point of view is logical., though. If you re-watch the juvenile. Bobby coming around the turn has the lead, and as you said, lost focus to the crowd. "Shanghai Bobby is exhausted!" Trevor said, but really he wasn't at that point. He was just unfocused. HHE was bobbled on the rail, once he got out, he went to the outside of Shanghai Bobby. Then, you could tell Bobby started up again. A couple strides from the wire though, Bobby was up 1/2 length, but HHE narrowed it to a head. That shows me he was almost out at 8.5. I think 9 is his breaking point, JMO. He should be competitive today, but I think a horse will overtake him.
I do not see where you say he started to fade. You cannot say that just because HHE made up two more inches that he was fading. Had he lost by 2 or so after battling, then yes, that would be enough to say that he faded. Two inches when the other horse had the momentum is not. I do not know how far he will go. I do think 9 is within his scope. My point is, you don't limit a horse that has shown no limit. He lost focus, that was the main reason for the close call. Travel, it was his weakst race, however many variables besides the distance went into that race. Meaning the travel, lack of recovery time from the travel, and the fact that he stopped running on the turn.
I got 1st Frac Daddy 2nd Shanghai Bobby 3rd Bern Identity 4th Dewey Square.
Sorry. I don't expect him to get ten, dani. I think 9 is his breaking point. As TV said, the juvenile was his weakest of his last three. I would play against him here, and go with Frac Daddy. Itsmyluckyday can wire the field, Shanghai Bobby will press him...
He lost focus, it was obvious. Rosie will probably keep him behind a horse or two a bit longer. He got focused once HHE came to his side, and battled for about 3-4 strides, then started to FADE. His distance limitations remind me of Hansen's. Great at 8.5 or lower, Decent at 9, bad at ten. Front runners rarely get it easy on derby day (usually in the range of 22:3 to 23:1) I don

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Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait and temperament and later worked with Throughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

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