01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Shanghai Bobby

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photo by: Tom Keyser

In a year during which trainer Todd Pletcher won 66 races restricted to 2-year-olds, it was the juvenile he started first who proved to be his best.

On April 19, Shanghai Bobby won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct by four lengths. From then on neither horse nor trainer could be stopped.

From start to finish, Shanghai Bobby was the most accomplished 2-year-old of his trainer’s top-flight stable, winning four stakes – three graded – capped by the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. That 5-for-5 campaign makes him the odds-on favorite to win the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion 2-year-old male for 2012.

Shanghai Bobby won the Track Barron overnight stakes at Belmont Park in June before taking the Grade 2 Hopeful at Saratoga in September, the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont in October, and then the Juvenile by a determined head over He’s Had Enough.

“It’s great to have an undefeated 2-year-old and go all the way from April to November,” Pletcher said of Shanghai Bobby following the Breeders’ Cup victory. “It’s pretty hard to do. It’s a real feather in his cap. He’s got everything you want. He’s fast and he’s courageous.”

Jockey Rosie Napravnik, aboard for all five races, said after the Breeders’ Cup that Shanghai Bobby is the most talented horse she has ridden.
“And I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of him,” Napravnik said.

In the Breeders’ Cup era – that is, since 1984 – only four horses have won the Hopeful and Champagne. Shanghai Bobby was the first to add the Juvenile to the list. Hopeful-Champagne winners Dehere and First Samurai each ran in but lost the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Vineyard Haven did not compete in the Breeders’ Cup and was denied the 2-year-old championship by Juvenile winner Midshipman. Twenty-two of the previous 28 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners have won the Eclipse Award.

Should he win it, Shanghai Bobby would be the first 2-year-old champion since Answer Lively in 1998 to have begun his campaign in April.
Shanghai Bobby, a son of Harlan’s Holiday bred by Stonehaven Steadings, was purchased for $105,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling auction by the Starlight Stable of Jack and Laurie Wolf, and Don and Barbara Lucarelli. He was broken in Ocala, Fla., by Todd Pletcher’s father, Jake Pletcher, and came to hand early. He shipped to Pletcher at the Palm Meadows training center early in 2012.

“He felt like he was a top-level colt from early on,” Todd Pletcher said. “He’s just one that learned everything very quickly.”

Shanghai Bobby’s 3 3/4-length victory in the Hopeful came after he was scratched from the Saratoga Special three weeks earlier because of a temperature.

Before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Starlight sold half-interest in Shanghai Bobby to the Coolmore connections of Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.

“We took our chance,” Tabor said after the Breeders’ Cup. “When you win the Hopeful and the Champagne you’re obviously a good 2-year-old. I’m not sure he’ll get a mile and a quarter, but hopefully he’ll go on and do nice things next year.”

Shanghai Bobby is currently in training at Palm Meadows and is targeting the Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26 for his 3-year-old debut.