01/23/2013 5:51PM

Gulfstream Park: Shanghai Bobby on the rail in field of 10 for Holy Bull Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby will face nine others in Saturday’s Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The imposing presence of the undefeated and recently elected 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby failed to scare off the opposition for Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull, the first of three major Kentucky Derby preps to be run here this meet. Nine other 3-year-olds entered the Grade 3 race, with the somewhat larger-than-expected field potentially posing the biggest obstacle to the champ’s success, considering the short run to the first turn in 1 1/16-mile races at Gulfstream Park.

Fourteen of the 21 races already decided at 1 1/16 miles here this winter have been won by horses breaking from posts 1-3. But whatever angst trainer Todd Pletcher might have had regarding post position ended at Wednesday’s draw, when Shanghai Bobby got the rail for his much-anticipated 3-year-old debut.

Among the prime contenders who may have taken the worst of the draw were Dewey Square in post 6, Itsmyluckyday, post 7; and Tulira Castle, post 8.

The remainder of the field is Frac Daddy, post 2; Clearly Now, post 3; Bern Identity, post 4; Sr. Quisqueyano, post 5; Fredericksburg, post 9; and longshot Joshua’s Comprise who will break on the extreme outside from post 10.

[HOLY BULL: Get Saturday's Gulfstream PPs, watch full card live]

“It looks like it’s coming up a very competitive race for the first one of the year,” Pletcher said. “We were planning to run no matter what, but you worry about anything. The post position draw had to be a concern, it certainly wouldn’t have been ideal drawing outside.”

Shanghai Bobby, who closed his 2-year-old season winning the Grade 1 Champagne and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, will share top weight of 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Holy Bull with Bern Identity, winner of the Grade 2 Sanford at 2. Bern Identity has not started since finishing a troubled and very game second in the Delta Downs Jackpot on Nov. 17 and has been training forwardly at Palm Meadows for his return.

Dewey Square was an easy winner of his first two starts for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans before finishing a wide-running third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs to close his abbreviated juvenile campaign.

Itsmyluckyday rallied wide to a convincing 6 3/4-length victory over Sr. Quisqueyano in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day while earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in the process, the highest of any member of the Holy Bull field.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“The post is obviously not ideal, but it could have been worse,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “He could have been in eight, nine or ten. I’m not crazy about it, but you can’t always have what you want. I’m surprised there are that many horses in this race. It’s certainly the most solid 3-year-old race this year and maybe the toughest field any of these horses have faced thus far either at 2 or 3.”

Tulira Castle was an impressive allowance winner here earlier in the meet when making his first start over dirt and will be stretching out around two turns for the first time Saturday.

Trainer Ken McPeek opted to test Frac Daddy, who was beaten a neck by Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club, in the Holy Bull rather than running him in one of the two entry-level allowance races he is eligible for earlier on the card.