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Shanghai Bobby on course for Florida Derby

  • Shanghai Bobby (Benoit Photos)

Champion Shanghai Bobby continues to train forwardly for a scheduled start in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 30. The dark bay son of Harlan's Holiday hasn't started in a race since suffering his first career loss in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on January 26.

"The horse is training really well. We've had a plan mapped out after the Holy Bull and everything's been going to plan so far," said trainer Todd Pletcher, whose colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on Sunday at Palm Meadows. "We still have a ways to go, but he'll continue on a weekly work schedule until the race."

Shanghai Bobby entered the Holy Bull as the early favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby on the strength of an undefeated juvenile season that included Grade 1 victories in the Champagne at Belmont and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The buzz surrounding the Kentucky-bred colt has subsided considerably since the Holy Bull, in which he finished two lengths behind Itsmyluckyday and more than 11 lengths clear of third-place finisher Clearly Now, who just captured the Grade 3 Swale last Saturday.

"People are looking at the Holy Bull as a pretty strong race. Itsmyluckyday naturally got a lot of respect from that and the race was flattered a bit when Clearly Now came back to win the Swale the other day," Pletcher said. "I think it's probably due to the fact that neither Shanghai Bobby nor Itsmyluckyday has run since the Holy Bull that everybody is looking at the horses that are running at the moment. Hopefully, the Florida Derby will put him back on the scene."

The Pletcher-trained Verrazano has replaced Shanghai Bobby atop a majority of three-year-old polls while earning favoritism among the individual betting interests in the first two pools of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

The bay son of More Than Ready, who has created a buzz at Gulfstream with a pair of dazzling victories to launch his career, is scheduled to make his stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

"He trained so well before his maiden race, we anticipated he'd run well. Then, he trained just as good or better for his second race. When you have one that trains as well as he does and has run as well as he had, you want to see more of the same," Pletcher said of Verrazano's return to action.

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