Despite some scary moments in the stretch, Shanghai Bobby lived up to his 6-5 favoritism to take Saturday's Grade 1, $1,818,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a head over He's Had Enough.
The Todd Pletcher trainee tracked the pacesetting Title Contender through fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 2/5 before asserting his class to take over entering the turn. Shanghai Bobby began looking around after opening up a clear lead heading into Santa Anita's stretch, but jockey Rosie Napravnik never panicked. She kept urging the dark bay colt on while saving ground along the rail until He's Had Enough pulled up to challenge on the outside.
That got the Harlan's Holiday colt's attention, and Shanghai Bobby dug in to secure the slim victory in a final time of 1:44 2/5 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast dirt.
"We were in a great spot. As a matter of fact, down the backside, I was having déjà vu of the (Grade 1) Kentucky Oaks (win aboard Believe You Can) and being in that golden spot," said Napravnik, who followed in Julie Krone's footsteps to become just the second female rider to win a Breeders' Cup race.
"He outran the one horse (Title Contender) way too early because once he gets to the lead, he gets a little bit lost. I was worried at that point, because he just came to a walk. I was hoping those horses would come up to him sooner than later. They did, and he kicked on again. He's a terrific horse.
"He was nose and nose with me," Napravnik said of He's Had Enough. "I was looking forward mostly because I knew they were coming and once Bobby saw them that he would kick into gear and he re-breaks so sharply. It's an unbelievable feeling."
"That was our strategy, to be aggressive, the way the track was playing," Pletcher admitted. "We didn't want to get shuffled back.
"I kept going back on the Track Barron (at Belmont Park) in his second start. He went pretty fast early, and it looked like he was in trouble, but when horses engaged him, he fought on and found more. I was hoping he was going to be able to do that today. I was concerned about the fractions.
Shanghai Bobby moved his record to a perfect five-for-five with this win and essentially wrapped up champion two-year-old male honors while returning $4.60, $3.40 and $2.60 to his faithful backers.
"It's great to have an undefeated two-year-old and go all the way from April to November; it's pretty hard to do. It's a real feather in his cap," Pletcher added. "He's got everything you want. He's fast and he's courageous. He's handled everything we've thrown at him, from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. He just keeps coming."
He's Had Enough ran greenly in the stretch, drifting toward the grandstand before jockey Mario Gutierrez straightened him up and sent the Tapit colt up to Shanghai Bobby's throatlatch.
"To overcome all that trouble, he ran dynamite," said He's Had Enough's trainer, Doug O'Neill. "Right to the end, I was still thinking he was going to get there. He got beat by a nice horse."
It was another 2 1/4 lengths behind the gray runner-up to Cape Bastone, who in turn had 1 3/4 lengths to spare on Fortify. Power Broker, Dynamic Sky, Speak Logistics, Title Contender and Monument completed the order under the wire.
Shanghai Bobby entered the Juvenile owning a five-length win in the Grade 1 Champagne at Saratoga and a 3 3/4-length score in Belmont Park's Grade 2 Hopeful. Prior to those two the juvenile broke his maiden at Aqueduct by four lengths and recorded a one-length victory in the Track Barron. With the winner's share from Saturday's race, the dark bay has now banked $1,687,000 in lifetime earnings.
"I think what impressed me a lot about Shanghai Bobby is the fact that he's so athletic, and he's so smart," said Napravnik, who's been aboard for all of the colt's races. "I wasn't really congratulating him on his smartness at the quarter-pole today but I was at the sixteenth-pole.
"He's a really cool horse, he has a personality. It makes my day every time Todd asks me to come and breeze him in the mornings, and not to mention in the afternoon he's just -- he's all heart, he's all race horse. He's exactly what every rider is looking for."
Bred in Kentucky by Stonehaven Steadings, Shanghai Bobby has more than earned back his initial purchase price of $105,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. It also didn't hurt that Coolmore principals Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith purchased a 50 percent interest of the colt from owner Starlight Racing leading up to the Breeders' Cup.
"Of course not!" Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing said when asked if he now regretted selling a percentage of Shanghai Bobby to Coolmore. "The way it worked out, these guys have had horses with Todd for a number of years, and it was a natural deal. They were interested in the horse mainly as a stallion prospect and having the fun of doing this. No, it's great to have them as partners, and we've already had some fun and we'll have some more fun, hopefully."
Shanghai Bobby is the first registered foal of the stakes-winning Orientate mare Steelin' and hails from the family of Grade 1-winning producer City Band. This is also the family of Grade 2 vixen Really Quick as well as Grade 3 victors American Lion and King's Reel.