Undefeated Eclipse champion Shanghai Bobby breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 Sunday morning over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows for trainer Todd Pletcher in his final tune-up as the likely favorite in next Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.
Under exercise rider Patti Krotenko, the three-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday worked in company with impressive debut maiden winner Verrazano, who turned in the exact same time.
"They went head and head and finished evenly," Pletcher said. "It was a nice work for both of them.
"It went great. It looks like everything's on schedule."
Shanghai Bobby wrapped up his perfect five-for-five campaign with a gutsy head victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 3. The dark bay son of Harlan's Holiday was honored for his accomplishments with an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old male Saturday night at Gulfstream Park and will begin his quest for Triple Crown glory at that venue in the Holy Bull.
Bern Identity was also on the Palm Meadows Sunday morning tab working for a start in the Holy Bull, clocking a bullet five furlongs in :59 1/5 for trainer Kelly Breen. The bay son of Bernstein posted a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Sanford last summer at Saratoga before finishing third behind Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 2 Hopeful.
The Kentucky-bred closed out his juvenile season with a win in the Jean Lafitte and a nice second in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot, both at Delta Downs.
Trainer Dale Romans, who accepted the Eclipse Award as 2012 champion trainer Saturday night, was back to work on Sunday morning, watching his Holy Bull hopeful Dewey Square speed a bullet five-eighths in :59 over Gulfstream Park's fast dirt. The Bernardini colt romped in his initial two starts last fall before running a close third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on November 24 at Churchill Downs.
Clearly Now, a relative newcomer on the three-year-old scene, also readied for the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull, covering a half-mile in :48 on Saturday over Palm Meadows' fast main track.
The Horse Greeley youngster captured his first two starts sprinting six furlongs before stretching out to 8 1/2 furlongs and finishing third behind Avie's Quality in the Display, all at Woodbine. Avie's Quality was never a factor when returning on Saturday in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds, winding up eighth in that nine-horse field.
"He showed ability from the start with his first two wins," trainer Brian Lynch said Sunday morning. "I might have had him a little too fresh for his first start going a distance in the Display, but I think I learned a little bit about him that will help this time. This is the time of year you want to see what you have."
In other Holy Bull news, Bradester will not be in the starting gate of the 1 1/16-mile race, according to trainer Eddie Kenneally.
"We're just going to wait and see. We're not sure what we're doing with him yet," Kenneally said.
Bradester is 2-1-0 from three starts thus far. The bay son of Lion Heart dropped his debut at Churchill in late October, then returned under the Twin Spires the next month to score by 3 1/4 lengths. He made his sophomore bow on New Year's Day, taking an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park by 1 3/4 lengths while earning a 100 BRIS Speed rating.
Kenneally has another promising three-year-old by the name of Majestic Hussar who could show up in the next leg of Gulfstream Park's three-year-old series, the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth. The Majestic Warrior colt, who was seventh in the Hopeful last season, opened his 2012 campaign with a front-running 2 1/4-length victory in the 1ST race at Gulfstream on Saturday.
Majestic Hussar, a homebred of Dr. Joseph Witek, got the best of favored Palace Malice in that seven-furlong allowance/optional claimer.
"He'll run in a graded stake somewhere. We're not sure which one yet," said Kenneally, while Witek expressed his hope that Majestic Hussar could make the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth on February 26. "We'd like to stretch him out."
Majestic Hussar has shown a definite preference for off tracks, as he took his maiden debut by 6 1/4 lengths on a sloppy track at Saratoga and later finished a nice second in an allowance/optional claimer on Gulfstream's good going in mid-December. His only off-the-board run, in the Hopeful, came over a fast track, but Kenneally believes his charge has the talent to run on that type of surface.
"I think he's a nice horse. I think he would have run well on a fast track," the horseman remarked, before adding about the Hopeful, "He ran poorly in the Hopeful. I don't think he was ready for that caliber of horse, and he was going through a growing stage.
"He was immature. We wanted to give him a break. Doc agreed that it was a good idea to back off and give him the fall off and have a fresh horse for the winter/spring campaign."