The Kentucky Derby Prep Season has 13 races under its belt with six remaining. Of the first 13 races, just two horses have won twice. The first is Goldencents and the other is recently crowned two year old male champion Shanghai Bobby.
The Harlan’s Holiday colt won the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on October 6, then the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on November 3. Those two wins earned him 20 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby point system.
Trained by leading trainer Todd Pletcher, Shanghai Bobby goes for Derby Prep Season victory #3 in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on January 26. The race is set to go 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.
#1 As we mentioned, Shanghai Bobby already won the BC Juvenile and Champagne Stakes en route to winning the Eclipse Award for top male two year. He also won his first three starts that included the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont Park, Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and his debut maiden score. He hasn’t raced since winning the Juvenile early November, but his morning works have been impressive. Expect another solid performance in his three year old debut. Rosie Napravnik remains aboard.
#2 Frac Daddy, trained by Ken McPeek has raced just three times, but comes into the Holy Bull Stakes off a narrow neck defeat to Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on November 24. He sat just off the early leaders in 3rd, and was outlasted by Uncaptured in a duel that lasted most of the stretch. His first race was runner-up at Belmont Park in October, then followed up by his maiden win at Churchill Downs on November 3. He’s been working out at Gulfstream Park while posting workouts of 59.89 going five furlongs. He seems ready to go. Jockey David Cohen remains as his jockey.
#3 Clearly Now makes his American debut after three starts North of the border at Woodbine. The Brian Lynch trained colt won his opener on September 26 going six furlongs on the all weather track. He followed it up with another win in Allowance company on November 3 going six furlongs again. His last race was on December 1 in the Display Stakes going 1 1/16 miles. In his first two races, he came from off the pace, but this time he went to the lead. He held the lead until the top of the stretch, but gave way and was beaten 5 1/4 lengths overall. This will be his first attempt on dirt and against graded company. Will Lynch sit him off the lead where he ran better the first two times? Jockey is Luis Saez.
#4 Bern Identity has won 3 of 6 races with all six top three performances. The Bernstein colt trained by former Belmont Stakes winning trainer Kelly Breen finished 2nd in his debut last May at Belmont Park, but quickly came back to win in June. He won the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in July before finishing 3rd in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes. He only finished 3/4 lengths behind runner-up Fortify, but was another 3 3/4 lengths behind Shanghai Bobby. He bypassed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in favor of going to Louisiana in preparation for the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3) on November 17. He handily won the Jean Lafitte Stakes on October 20. Despite having a terrible break, getting bumped a couple of times, then squeezed on the backstretch and far turn, he still found a way to come from behind and finish 2nd to Goldencents in the Delta Downs Jackpot. He too hasn’t raced since November, but has been working extremely well in preparation for the Holy Bull. On January 20, he posted a five furlongs bullet in 59.33 at Palm Meadows Training Center. Paco Lopez gets his third straight call on this colt.
#5 Sr. Quisqueyano makes his 2nd start at Gulfstream Park after six successful races at Calder and one at Gulfstream. The Elusive Quality colt trained by Luis Olivares won his first three including the Seacliff Stakes by 13 3/4 lengths going one mile on the dirt. He finished 2nd to Itsmyluckyday in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes, 2nd to Brave Dave in both the Birdonthewire Stakes and Jack Price Juvenile Stakes. His string of runner-up efforts continued as he finished behind Itsmyluckyday yet again in the Gulfstream Park Derby. He lost by almost seven lengths. He has an impressive local resume, but the competition gets more stiff in this race. He will be lucky to hit the board yet alone keep his string of 2nd place results going. Joel Rosario will ride, but don’t think that is nearly enough to help his cause here.
#6 2012 Trainer of the Year Dale Romans enters his Bernardini colt Dewey Square. His last race was also the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes where he ran 3rd beaten 1 1/4 length by Frac Daddy and an additional neck for it all. It was his first defeat as he won his maiden opener at Hoosier Park in September, then an Allowance Optional Claiming $75,000 at Churchill Downs in October. As the same with many of these horses, he seems fresh and coming into the race off quick morning workouts. His last was a bullet going five furlongs in 59.10 at Gulfstream Park. Regular rider Corey Lanerie remains on board.
#7 Itsmyluckyday comes off a 6 3/4 lengths romp in the Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1 going a mile on the dirt. He broke his maiden back on June 23 at Monmouth Park going five furlongs. Trainer Ed Plesa Jr. switched him to turf for the Tyro Stakes at Montmouth. He finished 3rd beaten just 1/2 length for the whole thing. He shipped to Calder and won the Fasig Tipton Turf Dash Stakes which was taken off the turf for dirt going five furlongs. Plesa stretched his Lawyer Ron colt to One mile and 70 yards in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder and once again won easily. He made his way to Delta Downs for the Jackpot Stakes and ran 6th. Back to Florida he went, this time at Gulfstream Park. He finished 4th in the Dania Beach Stakes on turf after going 5-wide on the far turn and stretch drive. Elvis Trujillo gets the mount as Paco Lopez stays with Bern Identity.
#8 Tulira Castle makes his stakes debut after four races in maiden and Allowance company. The War Pass colt trained by James DeVito started at Arlington Park last summer where he finished 2nd in his debut on August 9, then won in the follow up on August 30. He finished 2nd in an Allowance at Keeneland on the all weather before finishing his two year old season at Gulfstream by winning an Allowance Optional Claiming $75,000 over Frederickburg, who is in this race. His morning works at GP haven’t been too good, but attaining the services of Javier Castellano certainly doesn’t hurt the cause.
#8 Speaking of Fredericksburg, the Michael Matz trained colt by Speightstown has just one win in five tries and that came at Saratoga on August 29. Since then, he has finished 7th in the Bourbon Stakes (G3) at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, 3rd in the Incurable Optimist Stakes at Belmont Park and the 2nd place finish in the AOC against Tulira Castle on December 8. He has experience at this distance, but the lack of consistency doesn’t bode well against a deeper field than what he is used to facing. He picks up John Velasquez as his rider, but still don’t think that will be enough.
#9 Joshua’s Comprise has raced as many times as a four year old yet he is just turned three. He ran 14 times as a two year old and his only win came in an Allowance at Calder on September 30. His only start at three came in a 4th place result in the GP Derby. He’s been in the money 7 of 15 races, but just one win to show for all of that effort. This is not the race for him to be entered. Definitely a pass. Kent Desormeaux will ride.
There isn’t a horse in this field that has showed they can compete at the same level as Shanghai Bobby. He will win his 6th straight race to start his career. Bern Identity with a good trip in his last could very well have been coming into this race with back to back wins. He should run well, but don’t think he is good enough to tackle Bobby. Frac Daddy and Dewey Square will battle to complete the board. A longshot hopeful for exotic wagers could be Tulira Castle.
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