Shanghai Bobby pulls ahead for victory in Aljamin Stakes on Friday at Belmont Park. (Photo courtesy of NYRA)
Champion Shanghai Bobby made his first start since March in the Aljamin Stakes on Friday at Belmont Park, and his victory as the overwhelming favorite just might put him on the path to the Breeders’ Cup in November.
Ridden for the first time in the Aljamin by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Shanghai Bobby tracked front-running Dads Caps from second. Dads Caps proved a determined opponent in the stretch, but Shanghai Bobby outlasted him to take charge inside the final sixteenth of a mile and then held off fast-finishing Slan Abphaile by a neck for the win. He completed 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.79 on a fast track at Belmont.
Shanghai Bobby was last seen finishing fifth in the Florida Derby on March 30 after finishing second in the Holy Bull Stakes in his first start of 2013. Shanghai Bobby earned his first win of the year as the 3-to-5 favorite in the Aljamin for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Starlight Racing, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
“You're always concerned when you haven’t run a horse in [six] months, champion 2-year-old, and all of that,” Pletcher said. “We felt like we had him ready enough, and he showed up and ran his race.”
Shanghai Bobby capped an undefeated 2-year-old season in 2012 with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November at Santa Anita. Pletcher hopes the Aljamin sets him up for another trip to the West Coast for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
“He ran really well off the layoff. I thought he ran well enough today to put us in the mix for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or the Dirt Mile, but we’ll see how he bounces out of it,” Pletcher said.
Velazquez said the Aljamin Stakes was a learning experience for him aboard Shanghai Bobby, who can at times be a quirky horse. The rider said he felt like he might have waited a bit too long to ask the 3-year-old by Harlan’s Holiday to accelerate, which led to the close finish.
SHANGHAI BOBBY WINS 2013 ALJAMIN STAKES
Photo courtesy of NYRA
“It was my first time riding him, but I had watched his previous races, and what he does is get to the lead and wait,” he said. “I didn’t want to make a premature move and get to the lead too quickly; then, I waited too long and it took him a long time to get going. Finally, when he got to the lead, he started waiting again. His gallop out was really good. He’s a tough horse to read.”
Shanghai Bobby improved to six wins and one second from eight races with career earnings of $1,857,000.
For an Equibase chart, click here.