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Horse racing: Starlight giving Shanghai Bobby a vacation

Monday, April 1, 2013
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Shanghai Bobby will get a training break after finishing fifth behind Orb in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

The 2012 champion 2-year-old colt owned by Starlight Racing was trying to qualify for the May 4 Kentucky Derby, but instead has been sent to the Payton Training Center in south Florida to rest for races in the late summer and early fall.

That gives him plenty of time to freshen up for a start at Sar­atoga Race Course, where he won the Grade II Hopeful on closing weekend last September.

In a Starlight release, trainer Todd Pletcher said that Shanghai Bobby, a dark bay son of Harlan’s Holiday, is not injured, but needs a freshening from a racing schedule that began last April, and included a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November to wrap up the Eclipse Award.

“There’s nothing obviously wrong with him, but we will go over him thoroughly and give him some time off to fully recover from his long campaign,” Pletcher said.

“He looks great, fantastic,” co-owner Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg said by phone. “It’s just a question of his energy level. Since we’re not going to the Derby and won’t be around for any of the Triple Crown, this is a window to get some time off.”

Lucarelli is the Starlight co-managing partner with Jack Wolf.

“Shanghai Bobby has been at the track for 13 months, and his energy level and level of performance have never suggested he needed any time off until now,” Wolf said in the release. “It’s time to freshen him up and, if all goes well, point for a late summer, early fall campaign.”

In the Florida Derby, Shanghai Bobby was stuck on the rail early and stalked the leaders in third, but tired on the far turn and finished fifth by 103⁄4 lengths.

After an undefeated season from five starts as a 2-year-old, he lost both of his races this year, finishing second to Florida Derby runner-up Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull.

The nine-furlong Florida Derby was his first race beyond a mile and a sixteenth.

“Believe me, he probably had a tougher trip than we think,” Lucarelli said. “If he was outside, maybe we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, but we’ve got to deal with what we know.

“It’s better to stop now. He’s been at the track so long without any time off, so this is the right thing to do by the horse. He’ll be very hard to beat at a mile. Bring him back, and let him do what he’s best at, which is to be a miler.”

Shanghai Bobby could get back to the track in June to prepare for a start at Saratoga.

Lucarelli said they won’t be looking at the mile-and-a-quarter Travers, but the seven-furlong King’s Bishop on Travers Day makes sense, because it’s seven furlongs and would be a steppingstone to the big fall mile races.

AP TOP 10

Orb, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, moved to the top of The Associated Press Run to the Roses Top 10 after winning his fourth straight in the Florida Derby.

“I’m kind of surprised how well he bounced out of his race, to tell you the truth,” McGaughey said on Sunday.

Orb replaced Verrazano at No. 1, but Pletcher’s undefeated colt will be running on Saturday in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, where the field will include another undefeated horse, Vyjack, and the best Derby prospect for Mechanicville native Chad Brown, who trains Normandy Invasion.

Revolutionary, also trained by Pletcher, moved into third place with a narrow win over Mylute in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday.

The Top 10 includes Orb, Verrazano, Revolutionary, Vyjack, Itsmyluckyday, Will Take Charge, Oxbow, Hear the Ghost, Flashback and Normandy Invasion.

 
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