11/25/2012 2:47PM

Gulfstream: Shanghai Bobby slated to make 3-year-old debut in Holy Bull

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Barbara D. Livingston
Shanghai Bobby will run twice before the Kentucky Derby if he follows trainer Todd Pletcher's schedule.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Shanghai Bobby, the undefeated winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and likely champion 2-year-old colt, is being pointed to the Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26 for his 3-year-old debut, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday.

By starting him in the Holy Bull, Pletcher has the option of running Shanghai Bobby back in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 23 or, preferably, waiting for the Florida Derby on March 30 should he stick with the south Florida route to the May 4 Kentucky Derby for Shanghai Bobby. Pletcher said he would prefer just a two-race pre-Derby campaign for Shanghai Bobby, who twice this year won off a 69-day layoff.

“He’s had five races, but he’s also had good spacing in between,” Pletcher said. “Right now, I’d say the Holy Bull and Florida Derby put him on a steady campaign of races and we’d still have a fresh horse that’s had a lot of spacing in between his races.”

Pletcher added, “If you target the Fountain of Youth as your first start back and have any hiccups along the way and you miss the Fountain of Youth it puts you behind schedule.”

Pletcher noted that with Churchill Downs employing a new points system to replace the graded stakes earnings rule previously used to determine starters for the Kentucky Derby, Shanghai Bobby is not assured a spot in the Derby field despite wins in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Champagne and Hopeful.

Under the new system, Shanghai Bobby has earned 20 points, but races run in March and April are worth significantly more points than the Champagne and Breeders’ Cup. The winner of the Holy Bull would earn only 10 points while the Fountain of Youth winner earns 50 points and the Florida Derby winner gets 100 points.

“To think you have to be cognizant of earning points with a horse that’s 5 for 5 and won the Breeders’ Cup, whether he was my horse or not, that needs to be looked at,” Pletcher said. “The Breeders’ Cup champion shouldn’t have to worry about points, but it’s so heavily geared to the final preps. Hopefully the points he accumulated already and if he earns a few more in his next prep, he’s in a position that if he ran well in his final prep that even without winning he’d qualify.”

Shanghai Bobby, owned by Starlight Stable and Coolmore, is currently in light training at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.