ARCADIA, Calif. — Despite the fact his Grade I-winning protégé was about a length and half in front of his eight rivals, nothing trainer Todd Pletcher saw at the top of the lane in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile made him feel good.
Shanghai Bobby, after making a surge to the front around the far turn, looked winded and leg weary under jockey Rosie Napravnik, seeming ripe to become a beaten favorite in the biggest race of his career.
"I thought we were in big trouble," Pletcher said.
Contrary to how it appeared, the son of Harlan's Holiday still had a well of reserve that was untapped — and he pulled from it to hold off He's Had Enough by a head in a determined stretch run.
In earning his fifth win in as many starts and second Grade I triumph, Shanghai Bobby not only cemented the 2012 Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male but added to Napravnik's milestone season. Having already become the first female rider to take the Kentucky Oaks this May, Napravnik joins Julie Krone as the only female riders to win a Breeders' Cup race.
"(Shanghai Bobby) is talented and that's all part of what my dream has been is to be able to ride this type of athlete," Napravnik said.
Owned by Starlight Stables and Coolmore, Shanghai Bobby stalked Title Contender through an opening half in :45.55 of the 11⁄16-mile race and looked like he was about to put the field away when he made a big move to take the lead coming into the turn.
He's Had Enough seemed ready to blow by as Shanghai Bobby weakened in the stretch, but the Doug O'Neill trainee ran out of race at the wire with the winner finishing in 1:44.58.
All of the contenders in the five Breeders' Cup 2-year-old races were competing without the anti-bleeder medication Lasix because of a new rule implemented this year. Of the nine entrants in the Juvenile, only fourth-place finisher Fortify had never raced on Lasix.
Little Mike the big man in the Turf
The expectation that an American horse would end the European dominance in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf played out. Just not the way everyone expected.
Dismissed at odds of 17-to-1, Little Mike reminded everyone he is a multiple Grade I winner this year when he held off favored Point of Entry to capture the 11/2-mile Turf by a half a length.
European runners have reigned supreme in the Turf, including 2011 when St Nicholas Abbey won for Coolmore.
St Nicholas Abbey was back this year and while most thought three-time Grade I winner Point of Entry would take him down, it was the Dale Romans-trained Little Mike who now puts himself in the discussion for year-end championship honors.
After sitting just off fractions of :23.83 and :46.77 along the rail in third, Little Mike overtook Turbo Compressor and withstood a game run from Point of Entry to his inside with St Nicholas Abbey flying late on the outside for third.
Little Mike, who previously won the Grade I Arlington Million and Turf Classic this season, covered the distance in 2:22.83.
Trinniberg rules the Sprint
Longtime journeyman rider Willie Martinez scored the first Breeders' Cup victory of his career when he booted the ultra-consistent Trinniberg home at odds of 13-to-1 to take the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint by three-quarters of a length.
Sitting second off fractions of :21.41 and :43.73, Trinniberg showed he could put the heat on and still have some afterburn left when he moved up to take over the lead in the 14-horse field entering the stretch. Favored The Lumber Guy tried to make a rally to snatch the victory but Trinniberg, trained by Shivananda Parbhoo, simply found another gear as he hit the wire in 1:07.98 for his fourth graded stakes score in 13 career starts.
Tapizar takes Dirt Mile
Dismissed at odds of 15-to-1, Tapizar reaffirmed his affinity for the Santa Anita surface, earning his third graded stakes win over the track when he upset the field in the $1 million Dirt Mile.
The complexion of the race immediately changed when Grade I winner and 5-to-2 co-favorite Shackleford went to his knees out of the gate, costing the front-runner all chance en route to a seventh-place finish.
Tapizar prompted Emcee on the lead through a half in :46.58 before taking things over for good in the lane to notch a 21/4-length win over the venerable Rail Trip in a final time of 1:35.34.
George Vancouver battles for Juvenile Turf win
Coolmore colors reigned in the $1 million Juvenile Turf for a second consecutive year as the regally bred George Vancouver burst through the pack to score a 11/4-length triumph in the 1-mile rest.
Just as they teamed to get Wrote home to victory in 2011, trainer Aidan O'Brien and jockey Ryan Moore were celebrating again after George Vancouver — out of multiple Grade I winner Versailles Treaty — emerged from a tightly bunched group and held off favorite Noble Tune.
A son of Coolmore stallion Henrythenavigator, George Vancouver won for the second time in seven career starts.
Mizdirection wins for Rome in Turf Sprint
Channeling the same in-your-face spirit as her co-owner, sports radio host Jim Rome, the gray filly Mizdirection took it to her male counterparts in the stretch when she made a huge run to take the $1 million Turf Sprint by half a length.
Though Mizdirection hadn't raced since running second in the Great Lady M Stakes in May, the daughter of Mizzen Mast was 3-for-4 lifetime at Santa Anita. As pacesetter Starspangledbanner was swallow up by the pack in midstrech, Mizdirection swung out on the far outside of the calvary charge, giving jockey Mike Smith his record 17th career win in a Breeders' Cup race.
Trained by Mike Puype, Mizdirection won the 61/2-furlong race in 1:11.39 over a course rated firm. Race favorite Unbridled's Note was second with Reneesgotzip third.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.