09/01/2012 2:49PM

Saratoga: Hopeful pits Pletcher vs. Godolphin

Barbara D. Livingston
Shanghai Bobby (right) works in company with stablemate Drum Roll in August at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Two of the biggest storylines of the 144th Saratoga meet seek a proper conclusion Monday when trainer Todd Pletcher takes on Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing in the Grade 2, $300,000 Hopeful Stakes on closing day.

Entering Saturday, Pletcher had won 21 races for juveniles at the meet, including 20 maiden races, and was the leading trainer in races and purse money won. Prior to Emcee running in Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego, Godolphin Racing had won four graded stakes – including the Alabama and Travers – and was the leading owner in purse money won.

The Hopeful, downgraded this year by the American Graded Stakes Committee, is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. The Hopeful winner gets his entry fees paid and a $10,000 travel stipend.

In the Hopeful, Pletcher has the coupled entry of Shanghai Bobby and Lawn Man as well as separate interest Overanalyze – though Overanalyze was likely to run in Sunday’s Sapling at Monmouth – while Godolphin sends out Fortify, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.

Shanghai Bobby was not among the 20 maiden winners Pletcher sent out at Saratoga. He debuted in April at Aqueduct, coming from off the pace to win a 4 1/2-furlong race by four lengths. He came back June 27 to win the Track Barron Stakes, setting fast fractions en route to a one-length score while running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.87 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

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“Not sure that’s really the way he wanted to run, but he was talented enough to do it,” said Pletcher, who trains Shanghai Bobby and Lawn Man for Starlight Racing.

Pletcher scratched Shanghai Bobby out of the Saratoga Special due to a temperature. He has since come back with two solid workouts. With Shanghai Bobby having drawn the outside post, Pletcher is hoping to see the type of off-the-pace trip Rosie Napravnik gave the colt in his debut.

Lawn Man, who breaks from post 3 under Javier Castellano, went gate to wire to win his debut July 28. The only horse from that race to have run back, Honorable Dillon, won his next start.

Fortify, a son of Distorted Humor, won first time out, pressing a hot early pace and drawing clear to win by 5 1/2 lengths, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.34. He won despite rearing up in the gate right before the start.

“We rarely win first time out,” said McLaughlin, who won first out last year with Alpha, this year’s Jim Dandy and Travers winner. “Being that he won first time out shows that he might be a graded stakes horse. We think he’ll come forward from his first start and hopefully he behaves in the starting gate and in the paddock. He was good in the paddock, he got a little anxious in the gate – he reared up a few times. Hopefully he behaves well and runs well.”

Since his win, Fortify came back with a slow half-mile work Aug. 20 and then a bullet four-furlong work in 46 seconds in company. Joe Bravo rides Fortify from post 4.

Bern Identity won the Grade 2 Sanford here July 24 for trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall. Prior to that, he won a maiden race at Belmont by 13 3/4 lengths. Breen and the Halls also send out Vegas No Show, who won a one-mile maiden race at Delaware Park.

Show Some Magic has kept good company in his maiden races. In his second career start, he was beaten by Circle Unbroken, who came back to win the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill before running second in the Mountaineer Juvenile. In his third start, he finished second to Spurious Precision, who came back to win the Saratoga Special. Show Some Magic won his maiden by a half-length Aug. 16.

Show Some Magic, trained by Steve Asmussen, will break from the rail under Julien Leparoux.

Majest Hussar, a 6 1/4-length debut winner in the slop here Aug. 11 is another contender. Royal Art, third in his only start, completes the field.