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Pletcher holds strong hand in Champagne
Shanghai Bobby will look to continue his dominance of the East Coast juvenile division on Saturday while taking on some familiar faces as well as a few newcomers in the Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne at Belmont Park. The Harlan's Holiday colt brings a perfect three-for-three mark into the one-mile contest, and will try to use the race as a springboard to Breeders' Cup Juvenile glory and year-end championship honors.
Following an easy four-length romp in his maiden debut at Aqueduct in mid-April, Shanghai Bobby wasn't seen in competition again until showing up at Belmont for a one-length score in the Track Barron Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher on June 27. The dark bay earned a nice 103 BRIS Speed rating for that one and returned during the Saratoga meet to take the Grade 2 Hopeful by 3 3/4 lengths.
Shanghai Bobby recorded a pair of nice moves since that last one and will keep jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard for the Champagne.
Fortify and Bern Identity did their best to run down Shanghai Bobby in the Hopeful lane, but wound up second and third, respectively, in that seven-furlong contest. The former, a Distorted Humor bay conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin, entered the Hopeful off a 5 1/2-length maiden debut win just a month earlier at the Spa. He had Joe Bravo aboard for both those starts but will be getting a jockey switch to Ramon Dominguez
Bern Identity, on the other hand, brought a nice victory in the Grade 2 Sanford to the Hopeful party but finished 4 1/2 lengths back in third that day. Edgar Prado has the call on the Kelly Breen-trained son of Bernstein as he tries to get back to his winning ways.
Goldencents, Archwarrior and Micromanage all bring easy maiden debut wins into the Champagne. Doug O'Neill took over the training on Goldencents following his 7 1/4-length romp on September 2 at Del Mar, but jockey Kevin Krigger retains the mount on the Into Mischief bay.
Pletcher will send out two other runners in Archwarrior and Micromanage. The former, a dark bay son of Arch, captured his first race by 3 1/4 lengths at Saratoga on August 30 and gets the talents of John Velazquez in the irons. His Medaglia d'Oro stablemate Micromanage was five lengths clear on the wire in a Saratoga maiden on September 1 and will get a jockey change to Joel Rosario for his stakes bow.
The Champagne field is completed by Chief Havoc, a Kentucky-bred Giant's Causeway chestnut who will be making his U.S. debut off a pair of placings in England.