08/10/2012 3:34PM

Saratoga: Pletcher takes two shots at Saratoga Special

Barbara D. Livingston
Drum Roll (left) and Shanghai Bobby work together Monday on Saratoga’s training track.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Coming off a modest maiden win at Delaware Park, Union Rags used last year’s Saratoga Special as a coming-out party to announce to the world he was indeed a special talent.

There are several runners in this year’s renewal of the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special that have hinted they, too, could be, well, special. The likes of Shanghai Bobby, Spurious Precision, Southern Honor, and Drum Roll all were very good in their combined five wins thus far and will try to take it to the next level when they clash in the 6  1/2-furlong Special, the 11th and final race on Sunday’s card.

Both the Special, which drew a seven-horse field, and the Adirondack, a Grade 2 race for juvenile fillies, will be shown live on NBC Sports Network in a one-hour telecast beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern.

For all of his success with 2-year-olds at Saratoga – he has won 12 juvenile races at this meet, captured the Sanford Stakes five times, and the Hopeful once – trainer Todd Pletcher has yet to win the Saratoga Special. He has both Shanghai Bobby and Drum Roll in here, with Shanghai Bobby being considered the stronger of the two at this point.

Shanghai Bobby, a son of Harlan’s Holiday owned by Starlight Racing, was an early arrival in the barn and a quick study as well. That is, once he was equipped with blinkers in the morning. He won his debut at Aqueduct quite impressively April 19 and then scored a front-running victory in the swiftly run Track Barron Stakes at Belmont on June 27.

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“I thought it was a big effort,” Pletcher said of the Track Barron. “Obviously, it was an extremely hot pace, and he was able to duel through some fast fractions and still have something let. It’s nice to see him run twice with two different styles. He seems adaptable to whatever pace scenario develops.”

Shanghai Bobby drew post 6, which should give jockey Rosie Napravnik a good position from which to survey how the race develops.

Outside of Shanghai Bobby is uncoupled stablemate Drum Roll, a son of 2007 Hopeful winner Majestic Warrior, who was trained by Bill Mott.

Drum Roll, owned by the Coolmore Stud connections, won his debut at Monmouth, a race in which he broke a little slow under Chris DeCarlo, was rushed up, but kept on going. John Velazquez will ride Drum Roll from post 7 on Sunday.

“I felt like we had him pretty fit,” Pletcher said. “I wasn’t expecting him to break slow; there were a lot of delays – the second favorite dumped his rider, another horse got loose, there was a lot of commotion. He ended up standing inside the gate for a while and got a little sleepy.”

With a tender shin forcing him to back off on Carried Interest, trainer Rick Violette will now start Spurious Precision in the Special. Spurious Precision, a son of High Cotton, was most impressive winning his maiden here July 21, the second day of the meet. While this seems a little quick back, Spurious Precision had an impressive workout over the main track Tuesday and has come out of it with a new attitude.

“Before, you wouldn’t notice him around the barn,” Violette said. “Now, he’s pretty impressed with himself. I hope it’s a good sign.”

Spurious Precision breaks from post 3 under Alan Garcia.

Southern Honor, a son of Yes It’s True trained by Tony Dutrow, set a track record for 4 1/2 furlongs at Parx Racing winning his second start by 7 3/4 lengths. Ramon Dominguez rides from post 4.

In Harm’s Way, a New York-bred maiden winner, He’s So Fine, and Dan the Tin Man complete the field.