09/20/2013 2:17PM

Belmont Park: Shanghai Bobby's comeback win may lead to Breeders' Cup start

Barbara D. Livingston
Shanghai Bobby (left) outfinishes Slan Abhaile to win his comeback race at Belmont Park on Friday.

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Shanghai Bobby, last year’s 2-year-old champion male, put himself in the picture for a return to the Breeders’ Cup with a neck victory in Friday’s $100,000 Aljamin Stakes at Belmont Park.

His connections now will have to decide whether to point for the $1.5 million Sprint or the $1 million Dirt Mile. Or, they could skip the Breeders’ Cup altogether and point to the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler at Belmont on Oct. 26 as a prep for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

“I thought he ran well enough today to put us in the mix if we want to look at the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or the Dirt Mile, but we’ll see how he bounces out of it and how he’s doing,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Everything’s in play.”

Last year, Shanghai Bobby capped his championship 2-year-old season with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, which is the site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

If Shanghai Bobby runs in the Dirt Mile, he will most likely have to compete against stablemate Verrazano. If he runs in the Sprint, he will likely run into stablemate Forty Tales.

On Friday, Shanghai Bobby was making his first start since the Florida Derby on March 30 at Gulfstream Park. He finished fifth that day and came out of the race with a pelvic fracture, an issue that required time but no surgery.

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In the Aljamin, Shanghai Bobby, under John Velazquez, stalked the pace-setting Dads Caps through a quarter-mile of 22.58 seconds and a half-mile in 45.15.

In the stretch, Shanghai Bobby was carried out a path or two by Dads Caps as he was attempting to go past that rival while Slan Abhaile was making a sustained rally along the rail under Rajiv Maragh. Velazquez brought Shanghai Bobby over toward Slan Abhaile and he was able to outfinish that horse to the wire.

Shanghai Bobby covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in a respectable 1:15.79 and returned $3.20 as the favorite.

“I don’t think the track is super fast but 1:15-and-three is a pretty solid time,” Pletcher said. “Johnny was trying to time it correctly, not get there too soon and not wait too long.”

Velazquez was riding Shanghai Bobby for the first time and Pletcher did alert him to the fact that the horse has a tendency to wait on other horses.

Velazquez said when Dads Caps came out to him, Shanghai Bobby “finally got into it. But now I hit him and as soon as he put his head in front he just slows down. I said ‘Come on, don’t do that to me now.’ It was good though, he just makes you work for it.”

Jack Wolf, whose Starlight Stable owns part of Shanghai Bobby along with Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier, said he’ll leave the decision on where to point Shanghai Bobby to Pletcher.

“To me personally if he goes to the Breeders’ Cup fine, if he doesn’t . . . ” Wolf said. “Todd does such a good job placing these horses, I’ll defer to him.”