Shanghai Bobby, Violence on track for seasonal bows

From today’s Gulfstream Park notes:

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and likely divisional champion Shanghai Bobby has adapted to his surroundings at Palm Meadows Training Center and is on track for his anticipated 2013 debut in the Grade III, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.

“Everything’s going according to plan so far. He’s still on schedule for the Holy Bull,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.

The schedule for the son of Harlan’s Holiday includes just two races as preparation for this year’s Kentucky Derby: the Holy Bull and the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby on March 31.

“That’s what we’ve got in mind now, but things change,” said Pletcher. “We’ll see how the first one goes and decide after that.”

That schedule is subject to change due to Churchill Downs’ new qualifying points system for the Derby, should Shanghai Bobby not dominate his 3-year-old debut as expected. There’s a possibility, at least, that, a third prep could be added.

In the old system that was based on graded-earnings, Shanghai Bobby would already have qualified for the 20-horse Derby field. However, little weight is placed on 2-year-old earnings, putting the son of Harlan’s Holiday pretty much on the same footing with far less accomplished colts.

“In some ways it’s not dramatically different than the old one, other than the 2-year-old form isn’t being considered at all,” said Pletcher, who has stated that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner should have an automatic berth in the Derby. “It’s easy for me to say that now because we’ve got the Juvenile champion, but I said that before. I thought it was the obvious flaw in the program. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner shouldn’t have to worry about gaining points. But the rule is the rule, and everyone knows about it before the game starts.”

Pletcher, though, couldn’t be happier with Shanghai Bobby, who went undefeated in five starts last year.

“He’s not a huge horse, but he’s filled out nicely and grown up a bit,” he said.

Pletcher has set the Grade II, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 23 as the next start for Violence, the undefeated winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last month.

The son of Medaglia d’Oro shipped to the West Coast to defeat 10 rivals on Dec. 15 in his first start over a synthetic racing surface. He captured his career debut despite a hesitant start at Saratoga on Aug. 19 before scoring by two lengths in the Nashua at Aqueduct on Nov. 4.

“I’ve been impressed with all three of his races, actually,” Pletcher said. “For a maiden to run as well as he did first time out at seven-eighths at Saratoga, I was impressed with that. He had a break, then came back to step up to a mile in the Nashua , then flew all the way to California and ran on a synthetic track for the first time. He’s been very impressive so far.”

There’s still a lot of upside for the Black Rock Thoroughbred LLP’s colorbearer.

“He’s a big, leggy colt who is starting to fill out and grow into himself,” Pletcher said. “He’s got a wonderful disposition and a great mind. He’s an easy horse to train.”

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