09/16/2013 5:32PM

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: Strong return could put Shanghai Bobby in field

Barbara D. Livingston
Shanghai Bobby will return in Friday’s $100,000 Aljamin overnight stakes at Belmont Park.

Shanghai Bobby, who cemented an Eclipse Award by winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, could return to Santa Anita in either the Dirt Mile or the Sprint, depending on how he runs in Friday’s $100,000 Aljamin overnight stakes at Belmont Park.

After sweeping his five starts as a 2-year-old for Todd Pletcher, including the Hopeful and Champagne, Shanghai Bobby has raced only twice in 2013, suffering his first defeat when second in the Holy Bull and finishing fifth in the Florida Derby.

Shortly after the Florida Derby, Shanghai Bobby was diagnosed with a pelvic stress fracture that did not require surgery but has kept him out of action for nearly six months.

Shanghai Bobby drew post 3 in the Aljamin, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint restricted to 3-year-olds. John Velazquez is named to ride, replacing Rosie Napravnik, who was aboard for all his previous starts.

“We’re very pleased with the way he has been coming back,” Pletcher said. “He’s grown up a bit, and it’d be good to get him started on a positive note. The first thing we need to see is a solid run from him on Friday. Even though it’s an overnight stakes, it drew a competitive field. There are several nice horses in the race, and I hope he is not rusty and that he’s ready to go.”

[BREEDERS’ CUP 2013: See DRF’s top contenders]

Other options could be the Bold Ruler (Oct. 26) as a stepping-stone to Cigar Mile (Nov. 30), where, as a past Breeders’ Cup winner, Shanghai Bobby would race for a gross purse of $1 million.

Pletcher also confirmed that Verrazano, seventh in the Travers most recently, will train up to the Dirt Mile.

Pants On Fire may have earned a trip out West after winning the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs in stakes-record time Sept. 7.

Pants On Fire drew out late to win the 21st running of the one-mile Ack Ack in 1:33.78, missing the track record by just .47 of a second and earning a lifetime-best 107 Beyer Speed Figure.

“We’re talking about the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile,” trainer Kelly Breen said of the 5-year-old horse who won the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup in his prior start. “We’re coming off a couple of good wins and, knock wood, he stays healthy we could go there.”

The week’s developments were marred by the breakdown of Mentor Cane, the King’s Bishop runner-up, who was euthanized after suffering a right-hind lateral condylar fracture and a comminuted right hind P1 fracture in a workout at Belmont Park last Thursday.