ALJAMIN STAKES | PURSE: $300,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 2 | 6 1/2 FURLONGS
Shanghai Bobby, the champion 2-year-old male of 2012, made his first start off nearly a six-month layoff a winning one Sept. 20 at Belmont Park.
The 3-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday took the $100,000 Aljamin overnight stakes at the New York oval when making his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher since a fifth in the March 30 Besilu Stables Florida Derby. Owned by Starlight Racing, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, he was sidelined for half of the season with a pelvic fracture.
"You're always concerned when you haven't run a horse in [six] months, champion 2-year-old, and all of that," Pletcher said. "We felt like we had him ready enough and he showed up and ran his race."
Shanghai Bobby will be considered for this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint or Dirt Mile.
"He ran really well off the layoff," Pletcher said. "I thought he ran well enough today to put us in the mix for the Breeders' Cup Sprint or the Dirt Mile, but we'll see how he bounces out of it."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez was in the irons for the first time aboard the 3-5 favorite, who raced second about a length back on the outside to track a pace set by Dads Caps in the field of five. Early fractions went in :22.58, :45.15, and 1:09.40 before last year's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenil winner made his mid-stretch move, collaring the frontrunner on the outside as Slan Abhaile closed to just miss with a rush up the rail.
"It was the first time [John Velazquez] has ridden him. I cautioned him before the race that [Shanghai Bobby] kind of has a tendency to wait when he makes the lead," Pletcher said. "He was trying to time it and not get there too soon, and not cut it too close, either.
Shanghai Bobby completed the 6 ½ furlong sprint in 1:15.79, returning $3.20, $2.50, and $2.10. Stand Abhaile paid $3.70 and $2.60 to place, while Dads Caps held on to bring $3.10 for the show. Tenango and Purple Egg completed the order of finish. Whiskey Romeo scratched.
"It was my first time riding him, but I had watched his previous races, and what he does is get to the lead and wait. I didn't want to make a premature move and get to the lead too quickly; then, I waited too long and it took him a long time to get going," Velazquez said. "Finally, when he got to the lead, he started waiting again. His gallop out was really good. He's a tough horse to read."
Bred in Kentucky by Stonehaven Steadings out of the Orientate mare Steelin', Shanghai Bobby improved his record to six wins and a second from eight starts. Undefeated in 2012, he counts the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes, the Three Chimneys Hopeful, and the Track Barron Stakes among his victories earned last year. He was second to Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in his 2013 season debut, making the Aljamin his first win of the year.
Shanghai Bobby was a $105,000 buy from the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale when purchased by Frank Brothers, agent, from the Stonehaven Steadings consignment.