Thursday, November 1, 2012

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes Racing Roundup

Undefeated in four starts, Shanghai Bobby will put his untarnished record on the line this Saturday when he goes to the starting gate as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

Only nine juvenile colts will go to the post in the 29th running of the prestigious stakes race and, with a maximum of 14 possible entries, one has to wonder if the race did not fill because of the entry of Shanghai Bobby who’s been dominant in all four of his starts.

In April, Shanghai Bobby easily won his maiden debut by 4-lengths at Aqueduct racetrack. Since then, he’s won the Track Barron Stakes, Hopeful Stakes (G2) and Champagne Stakes (G1) by 9¾-lengths combined. And he shouldn’t have a problem stretching out to the 8½-furlong distance of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).

The success of Shanghai Bobby is somewhat similar to that of his sire, Harlan’s Holiday, who was 4-2-0 in six starts as a two year old winning the Iroquois Stakes (G3), Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes, Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes and the Hoover Stakes.

As a 3-year-old, Harlan’s Holiday finished second in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1). He followed up with a win in the Florida Derby (G1) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and went into the 2002 Kentucky Derby as the 6-1 favorite but finished seventh in a field of 18.

A win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will make Shanghai Bobby the early favorite for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. However, the distaff pedigree of Shanghai Bobby is not as strong as I’d like to see in a potential Derby prospect.

Orientate, the damsire of Shanghai Bobby, was a champion sprinter that won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) as well as the graded stakes Forego Handicap (G1), the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G2) and the Aristides Handicap (G3). Orientate was also able to stretch out his speed to win the 8½-furlong Indiana Derby. Carson City, the sire of the second dam Steel Band, also adds speed influence to the distaff pedigree.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik has done a masterful job guiding Shanghai Bobby to victory in all four starts and I look for them to be competitive in the Juvenile. But their courage could be severely tested by Power Broker (5-2) who, in his last race, broke his maiden and was an impressive 6½-length winner of the Frontrunner Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park on September 29.

Power Broker has improved his performance in each of his previous four starts and if he continues to move forward, he’ll be tough to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).

Pulpit, the sire of Power Broker, did not race as a 2-year-old. But as a 3-year-old, he had an outstanding 4-1-0 record going into the 1997 Kentucky Derby with a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and a second-place finish in the Florida Derby to Captain Bodgit.

As a sire, Pulpit has sired the multimillion dollar winners Pit Fighter (JPN), Essence of Dubai, Pyro, Rutherienne and Corinthian.

Wild Again, the damsire of Power Broker, is also the damsire of Pyro. So Power Broker is bred on the same successful Pulpit, Wild Again nick that produced one of Pulpit’s best runners - Pyro.

Wild Again was a very good middle-distance runner that won the 9-furlong Oaklawn Handicap (G2), the New Orleans Handicap (G2) and Meadowland Cup Handicap (G1). He also was able to stretch out to 10-furlongs and win the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

In some respects, this race is shaping up like the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) where Pyro finished second to the speedy, undefeated War Pass.

Time will tell if Power Broker, a close relative to Pyro, can turn the tables on the speedy, undefeated Shanghai Bobby.

A long shot I like in this race is He’s Had Enough (20-1). On paper, it looks like He’s Had Enough is going backwards instead of forward which is what one hopes a young 2-year-old Thorougbred to be doing at this time of year.

In all three of his previous starts, He’s Had Enough has shown a great deal of immaturity. However, his recent bullet work out has caught my attention. He’s never fired a bullet before and maybe he’s ready to get serious and run the best race of his career.

He’s Had Enough got off to a good start winning his maiden debut by a half-length but his immaturity showed in his run down the stretch.

His lack of focus and maturity showed in his second race, however, he managed to close from last to finish sixth only 2¼-lengths behind the victor Dry Summer. Just a few ticks off of the finish time of 1:35.16 for the mile, He’s Had Enough is right in the time zone that I like to see for young colts I think may have potential to be competitive.

In his third start, He’s Had Enough was hopelessly stuck behind a wall of horses going into the stretch of the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) at Keeneland but he still managed to finish only 4¾-lengths off of the victor Joha.

And with Tapit as his sire and Dixieland Band as the damsire, He’s Had Enough has the breeding to be competitive. Tapit sired Hansen, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Dixieland Band is the damsire of Street Sense – winner of the 2006 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).

I know it’s a stretch and a lot will depend on how well he looks in the paddock and post parade. If he looks good and you’re feeling lucky, he may be worthy of a wager.

In three starts, Fortify (9-2) has never been out of the money.

Fortify doesn’t seem to have the same speed or turn of foot as Power Broker and Shanghai Bobby who’s already beaten him twice. But his third-place finish in the Champagne Stakes (G1) wasn’t that bad and if Fortify can repeat that performance, then he should be competitive.

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) is the only race on the Breeders’ Cup card that is a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby. The winner will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive four points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 1 point.

After the race, I’ll post the updated list of Kentucky Derby qualifying leaders at the end of this blog.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated November 3, 2012)

Individual Leaders, total points
Shanghai Bobby, 20
Joha, 10
Power Broker, 10
River Seven, 10
Steeler, 10
Artigiano, 4
Capo Bastone, 4
Dynamic Sky, 4
Goldencents, 4
He’s Had Enough, 4
Know More, 4
Tesseron, 4
Fortify, 3
Al Waab, 2
Indiano Jones, 2
Java’s War, 2
Archwarrior, 1
Carving, 1
Birdman, 1
Five Iron, 1
Pataky Kid, 1

Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2), Newmarket, September 29, 2012
1. Steeler,10
2. Artigiano,4
3. Al Waab,2
4. Birdman,1

Frontrunner Stakes (G1), Santa Anita Park, September 29, 2012
1. Power Broker, 10
2. Know More, 4
3. Capo Bastone, 2
4. Carving, 1

Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1), Belmont Park, October 6, 2012
1. Shanghai Bobby, 10
2. Goldencents, 4
3. Fortify, 2
4. Archwarrior, 1

Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Keeneland, October 6, 2012
1. Joha, 10
2. Dynamic Sky, 4
3. Java’s War, 2
4. Pataky Kid, 1

Grey Stakes (G3), Woodbine, October 7, 2012
1. River Seven, 10
2. Tesseron, 4
3. Indiano Jones, 2
4. Five Iron, 1

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), Santa Anita Park, November 3, 2012
1. Shanghai Bobby, 10
2. He’s Had Enough, 4
3. Capo Bastone, 2
4. Fortify, 1

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