Florida Derby a tough proving ground for juvenile champ Shanghai Bobby

awincze@herald-leader.comMarch 27, 2013 

Saratoga Horse Racing

In this photo provided by New York Racing Association, Shanghai Bobby and jockey Rosie Napravnik capture the Three Chimneys Hopeful Grade II horse race, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (AP Photo/New York Racing Association, Adam Coglianese)

ADAM COGLIANESE — ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Florida Derby field

    PP Horse Jockey Odds

    1Shanghai BobbyNapravnik 5-2

    2Pick of the LitterCastanon 6-1

    3 Itsmyluckyday Trujillo 2-1

    4 Pontiff Garcia 30-1

    5 Frac Daddy Lanerie 20-1

    6 Orb Velazquez 3-1

    7 Indy's Illusion Maragh 20-1

    8 Merit ManDesormeaux15-1

    9Are You Kidding MeLezcano 15-1

    10 Narvaez Lopez 20-1

  • Florida Derby

    What: Kentucky Derby prep race for 3-year-olds

    When: Saturday, 6:19 p.m.

    Where: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

    TV: NBC Sports

    Purse: $1 million (Grade I)

    Distance: 11⁄8 miles

    Derby points: 100 to winner, 40 for second, 20 for third, 10 for fourth.

  • Louisiana Derby

    When: 6:44 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La.

    For: 3-year-olds

    Distance: 11⁄8 miles Grade: II

    Purse: $1 million TV: NBC Sports

    Derby points: 100 to winner, 40 for second, 20 for third, 10 for fourth.

    PP Horse Jockey Odds

    1Hip Four SixtynineTheriot 30-1

    2 Palace Malice Prado 5-1

    3 Revolutionary Castellano 3-1

    4 Golden Soul Borel 20-1

    5 Whiskey Bravo Graham 30-1

    6 SunbeanC. Hernandez12-1

    7 DepartingB. Hernandez8-1

    8 Code West Garcia 9-2

    9 Proud Strike Nakatani 10-1

    10 Titletown Five Court 8-1

    11 MyluteBridgmohan12-1

    12Brazilian CourtMena 30-1

    13Ground TransportGuidry20-1

    14Nina's DragonCouton 30-1

Be it a lousy post position, a trouble-filled trip, or against-the-grain bloodlines, exceptional racehorses have a way of ending up in the winner's circle regardless of such issues.

After drawing the rail in a field of 10 entered Wednesday for Saturday's Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, champion Shanghai Bobby will get to test that theory.

Not only will the post-position question come into play, but a victory at the race's 11⁄8-mile distance would go a long way toward easing his connections' minds concerning pedigree.

When Eclipse Award ballots were filled out last winter, there was — save for one vote — no arguing against Shanghai Bobby's 5-for-5 record and Breeders' Cup Juvenile victory when results came in for champion 2-year-old male.

But as emphatically as Shanghai Bobby was crowned for his precocity, the apparent lack of stamina in the colt's pedigree — by Harlan's Holiday out of a mare by champion sprinter Orientate — has been held up as reason to doubt his Kentucky Derby prospects.

That thought gained further traction when he was beaten by Itsmyluckyday in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 26.

When asked about his colt's supposed distance limitations during a teleconference Tuesday, Starlight Racing principle Jack Wolf kindly asked if he could wait until after Saturday's showdown with 2-1 morning-line favorite Itsmyluckyday and Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Orb before giving a final answer.

"If this horse can beat that field Saturday, especially with the other two in there, I would think it would silence some of the critics of his pedigree," Wolf, whose Starlight Racing group owns Shanghai Bobby in partnership with Coolmore Stud, said when reached in Florida on Wednesday. "My mind is at ease that this horse has as good a chance going 11⁄8 miles as Orb and Itsmyluckyday at this point.

"If he runs a competitive race and ... we think he fits (in the Kentucky Derby) we're going to go forward. If he shows us something Saturday that he doesn't even want 11⁄8 miles, we'll have to go back to square one. But we really can't say what we're looking for or not looking for."

Shanghai Bobby is the 5-2 second choice Saturday.

Contrary to what his owners and trainer Todd Pletcher hoped for, Shanghai Bobby will be stuck down inside after drawing post No. 1.

Wolf was hoping an outside draw would allow Shanghai Bobby to relax off the pace instead of setting the hot fractions he did in the Holy Bull. With fellow speedster Merit Man in post No. 8, Shanghai Bobby might be forced to hustle to the front again under jockey Rosie Napravnik.

"I wish I had $1,000 for every time one of Todd's horses either draw the No. 1 hole or the far outside," Wolf said. "We've got a good rider and a good horse and hopefully the two of them can figure out how to win the race. It's not what we were looking for but there's nothing you can do about it."

Orb, who closed over a speed-favoring Gulfstream track to beat Grade I winner Violence in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 23, is in the sweet spot in post No. 6 as the 3-1 third choice. Itsmyluckyday, a winner by 2 lengths over Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull, will leave from post No. 3 under Elvis Trujillo.

"Of course when you've got a horse with his running style, you always like to have a fast pace," said Shug McGaughey, trainer of Orb. "But if they do go slow, he's not going to be quite as far back as he was the other day, and I still think he can make that finish."

Revolutionary favored in Louisiana Derby

WinStar Farm's Revolutionary, who overcame severe traffic problems to win Aqueduct's Grade III Withers Stakes on Feb. 2, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 entered for Saturday's Grade II, $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

Revolutionary will break from post No. 3 in the field that also features fellow Pletcher-trainee Palace Malice to his inside in post No. 2. Palace Malice was most recently third in the Grade II Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23.

Unbeaten Departing, who was among the late Triple Crown nominees, will leave from post No. 7 next to stablemate Sunbean to his inside for trainer Al Stall Jr.


FLORIDA DERBY FIELD

PP Horse Jockey Odds

1Shanghai BobbyNapravnik 5-2

2Pick of the LitterCastanon 6-1

3 Itsmyluckyday Trujillo 2-1

4 Pontiff Garcia 30-1

5 Frac Daddy Lanerie 20-1

6 Orb Velazquez 3-1

7 Indy's Illusion Maragh 20-1

8 Merit ManDesormeaux15-1

9Are You Kidding MeLezcano 15-1

10 Narvaez Lopez 20-1


FLORIDA DERBY

What: Kentucky Derby prep race for 3-year-olds

When: Saturday, 6:19 p.m.

Where: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

TV: NBC Sports

Purse: $1 million (Grade I)

Distance: 11⁄8 miles

Derby points: 100 to winner, 40 for second, 20 for third, 10 for fourth.


LOUISIANA DERBY

When: 6:44 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La.

For: 3-year-olds

Distance: 11⁄8 miles Grade: II

Purse: $1 million TV: NBC Sports

Derby points: 100 to winner, 40 for second, 20 for third, 10 for fourth.

PP Horse Jockey Odds

1Hip Four SixtynineTheriot 30-1

2 Palace Malice Prado 5-1

3 Revolutionary Castellano 3-1

4 Golden Soul Borel 20-1

5 Whiskey Bravo Graham 30-1

6 SunbeanC. Hernandez12-1

7 DepartingB. Hernandez8-1

8 Code West Garcia 9-2

9 Proud Strike Nakatani 10-1

10 Titletown Five Court 8-1

11 MyluteBridgmohan12-1

12Brazilian CourtMena 30-1

13Ground TransportGuidry20-1

14Nina's DragonCouton 30-1

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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