Undefeated Shanghai Bobby, the only stakes winner in this year's $400,000 Champagne Stakes (gr. I), shook loose of pacesetter Goldencents rounding the bend and romped to victory Oct. 6 at Belmont Park.
Rosie Napravnik guided Shanghai Bobby to a five-length victory as the 8-5 favorite for Starlight Racing and trainer Todd Pletcher, who claimed his fourth Champagne win.
Winner of the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) in his most recent start at Saratoga Race Course Sept. 3, Shanghai Bobby ran his unbeaten string to four. The son of Harlan's Holiday likley heads to Santa Anita Parkas one of the favorites for next month's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
"He's shown the adaptability to stalk, and yet he has tactical speed to keep pressure on someone, keeping them from getting loose," Pletcher said. "He's tenacious. He has all of the tools."
The final time for the one-turn mile was 1:35.55 over a fast track. Southern California invader Goldencents ran second, with Fortify third in the field of six juveniles.
Bred in Kentucky by Jeff and Chiquita Reddoch's Stonehaven Steadings, Shanghai Bobby is the first foal out of the stakes-winning Orientate mare Steelin'. Shanghai Bobby was a $105,000 sale as a Keeneland September yearling last year by Frank Brothers, acting as agent for Starlight's Jack Wolf.
Shanghai Bobby began his career April 12 at Aqueduct Racetrack, winning a maiden special weight at 4 1/2 furlongs by four lengths. He followed that with a one-length win at Belmont in the Track Barron overnight stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs June 27.
After missing the Saratoga Special (gr. II) Aug. 12 with a temperature, he returned to action in the seven-furlong Hopeful, defeating Fortify by 3 3/4 lengths.
The Champagne earned Shanghai Bobby an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with entry fees paid and a travel allowance. He also earned 10 points toward a start in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Shanghai Bobby was first away from the gate in the Champagne before settling second on the outside of Goldencents, who pulled his way to front at the rail for Kevin Krigger. Fortify and Archwarrior stalked the first two.
Goldencents carved quarter mile fractions of :23.55, :47.45, and 1:11.21 as Shanghai Bobby drew even approaching the quarter pole. Shanghai Bobby took control narrowly leaving the turn and built a solid three-length advantage mid-stretch. He came home under a brisk hand ride from Napravnik to win convincingly while drifting out a bit late.
"Bobby was on his game today," said Napravnik, who has ridden the winner in all of his starts. "He broke real sharp and we sat real comfortable outside of the horse that was on the lead. He was taking me to the lead before I wanted to go, but he was full of it and did it as easy as could be. He's just gotten better and more mature with every start and I think he's just going to continue to grow and exceed our expectations."
Goldencents could not keep pace with the winner but held second by one length over Fortify, ridden by Ramon Dominguez. Archwarrior and Micromanage, both from the Pletcher barn, were next. British invader Chief Havoc trailed.
"(Archwarrior and Micromanage) ran like horses who had only one start," Pletcher said. "Archwarrior got stuck down inside, a position he's never been in. He got some dirt and just sort of ran evenly down the backside. I thought he showed some interest late when he got in the clear. Micromanage needed to do a little more. He was a little bit wide around the turn, and I think we learned a little something about the way he needs to be ridden; we probably need to place him in the race a little more. I thought both of those had credible performances.
"The one thing we felt Shanghai Bobby had going for him coming into the race was seasoning. Those three starts, sometimes, are really important."
Earning $240,000 for the victory, Shanghai Boby has now banked $607,000.
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Shanghai Bobby paid $5.30, $2.90, and $2.10 while keying a $26 exacta with Goldencents ($5.40, $3.20), who was making his second start for trainer Doug O'Neill. Fortify paid $3.20 to show.
Bern Identity scratched.
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Winning Jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard Shanghai Bobby
Photos Courtesy of HorsePhotos.com