Champion Shanghai Bobby breezed five furlongs at Palm Meadows Sunday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Saturday.
Working in company with stablemate Palace Malice, the 2012 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile champion was timed in 1:00 4/5, and the pair tied for the sixth fastest of 34 works recorded at the distance on the fast main track.
"I thought he worked well, consistent with what he normally does," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He's not an overzealous work horse, but I think we got a good tightener and everything has gone according to plan."
Shanghai Bobby raced to the outside of Palace Malice, who was about a half-length ahead of his stablemate at the finish line.
Shanghai Bobby went undefeated in five starts last year, capping the season with Grade 1 victories in the Champagne at Belmont and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The son of Harlan's Holiday suffered his first career loss in his 2013 debut in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on January 26. After setting the pace, Shanghai Bobby was defeated by Itsmyluckyday by two lengths.
With the addition of speedy sprinter Merit Man to the list of probables, Shanghai Bobby likely won't find himself on the lead as he did from his inside post in the Holy Bull.
"I think it's fine. We'd actually prefer a target. If (Merit Man) goes to the lead, fine," Pletcher said.
Shanghai Bobby, who ranked 11th on Churchill Downs' new points list for Kentucky Derby qualifying Sunday morning, likely needs an on-the-board finish to clinch an entry into the 20-horse field.
"I'm not worried about the points," Pletcher said. "I figure if he runs good enough, it won't be a problem.
Although there seemed a possibility that the Florida Derby field might come up short a few weeks ago, the list of probables has expanded during the past week with a field of nine or 10 or more likely.
"I never expected it to be a short field. None of these fields come up short with Derby points on the line," Pletcher said. "I expected it to be a big field and post position won't be a big deal for me."
Dreaming of Julia, scheduled to run in Saturday's Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, breezed an easy half in :50 4/5 seconds.
"It was a good steady work. The half-mile time doesn't look impressive, but I clocked the last three-eighths afterwards and it was impressive," Pletcher said. "She galloped out great and she's coming up to this race well."