Don Lucarelli described himself as “fidgety” last Saturday night.
In other words, he didn’t sleep much after the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, and in this case, that’s a good thing.
Almost a week later, upon hearing a suggestion that he had come down from Cloud 9, Lucarelli said, “No,” and that’s understandable, since Starlight Racing scored in a huge way with 2-year-old colt Shanghai Bobby.
After selling half interest in Shanghai Bobby to Coolmore Stud, Lucarelli and the Starlight contingent watched him win the BC Juvenile to stay undefeated and turn the Eclipse Award voting into a mere formality.
The Duanesburg resident is the Starlight co-managing partner with Jack Wolf, and the next step is for trainer Todd Pletcher to get Shanghai Bobby ready for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Lucarelli said the best-case scenario, after the colt spends the winter at Palm Meadows in Florida, is for Shanghai Bobby to make two starts before the Derby, preferably in Florida so he won’t have to travel to much.
In a perfect world, Shanghai Bobby would run in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, but Starlight knows as well as anyone that plans can go awry at anytime, so, for now, they’re content to bask in the afterglow of his win by a head over He’s Had Enough. The Eclipse Awards will be held Jan. 19 at Gulfstream Park.
“I can’t wait, because that’s the validation the horse deserves, and it’s all about the horse,” Lucarelli said.
Shanghai Bobby’s championship credentials are overwhelming, especially measured against the rest of the 2-year-old colts.
The son of Harlan’s Holiday out of the Orientate mare Steelin’ won all five starts, finishing the season by taking the Grade II Hopeful at Saratoga Race Course, the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park and the BC Juvenile.
Starlight was in a positon to win a championship last year with Hilda’s Passion in the female sprint division, but she finished second in the voting to Musical Romance.
They shouldn’t have to worry about this one.
“It makes it a hell of a lot easier,” Lucarelli said. “I’d like to see who anyone else would vote for.”
One of the questions that has been raised about Shanghai Bobby in the wake of the Breeders’ Cup is whether he’ll be able to win going a mile and a quarter.
Also, his finish time for a mile and a sixteenth, 1:44.58, was almost a second slower than the winning time by Beholder over the same distance in the BC Juvenile Fillies.
Lucarelli answered the first question with his observations of the race, which he watched about 30 times, he said.
He didn’t watch just out of giddy celebration, but also to analyze the finer points of how the Juvenile was run.
After quick early fractions, Shanghai Bobby, ridden in all five starts by Rosie Napravnik, started to make a move on front-runner Title Contender at the three-eighths pole.
Title Contender was done and backed up, but Shanghai Bobby was engaged by He’s Had Enough at the eighth pole, and suddenly things didn’t look good for the Starlight colt.
He refocused and dug in, though, and held off He’s Had Enough at the wire and beyond.
“I’m not worried about the time because he did what he needed to do,” Lucarelli said. “If he didn’t stop, it would’ve been a stroll in the park, and he went out quick, so that doesn’t bother me at all. The fact that he does what he needs to do is something I actually like, because then he isn’t overexerting himself.
“Rosie was 100 percent right, the horse didn’t get tired. If you stop-frame it, you can see he’s looking at the infield, and he perks his ears and sucks it up and got back on the bit once the other horse came up on him. Then he wouldn’t let him get by him, even on the gallop-out.”
“I kept going back on the Track Barron in his second start,” Pletcher said right after the race. “He went pretty fast early, and it looked like he was in trouble, but when horses engaged him, he fought on and found more. I was hoping he was going to be able to do that today. But I was concerned about the fractions. That was our strategy, to be aggressive, the way the track was playing. We didn’t want to get shuffled back.”
Lucarelli said it would be a mistake to assume that Shanghai Bobby is a sprinter based on the fact that his dam sire is Orientate, the 2002 male sprint champion, because Shanghai Bobby actually has distance pedigree on his dam side.
Also, “it would be a mistake, with this horse, to underestimate him, because if you did, you’re in the hole quite a few dollars,” Lucarelli said. “He was strong in the gallop-out, and he’ll get a mile and an eighth. The question is longer, but none of them will have run a mile and a quarter, so they’ll all be in the same boat.”
Lucarelli believes that the advantage of running just two preps for the Kentucky Derby is that a horse usually hits his best form cycle in the third race off a layoff.
It’s a formula that worked for Pletcher when he won the Derby in 2010 with Super Saver, who was third in the Tampa Bay Derby and second in the Arkansas Derby as the only starts of his 3-year-old season before the Kentucky Derby.
“Also, it’s one less chance for him to get injured,” Lucarelli said. “He’ll get a chance to grow and mature, and the spacing works. When you’re on the Derby trail, you want a fresh horse.
“It’ll be deceiving until a horse of his caliber challenges him, then you’ll be able to tell if he’s a super horse or not. There’s always going to be late-bloomers who develop later, just like we did with Algorithms. That’s when we’ll know.”
“It’s great to have an undefeated 2-year-old and go all the way from April to November; it’s pretty hard to do,” Pletcher said. “It’s a real feather in his cap. He’s got everything you want. He’s fast and he’s courageous. He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him, from 41⁄2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. He just keeps coming.”
More BC follow-up
Classic winner Fort Larned will race next year, with an eye on repeating at the Breeders’ Cup.
Trainer Ian Wilkes said Fort Larned will spend the winter in Florida and aim for another shot at the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. He was eighth in that race this year. . . .
Mile winner Wise Dan, the leading candidate for Horse of the Year, will also return to the races in 2013, trainer Charlie Lopresti said, most likely at Keeneland in April.
“Charlie won’t get in a big hurry with him because the goal is to have the horse at his best toward the mid-to-late summer and the fall for the big races,” said Lopresti’s wife, Amy.
Wise Dan won the Fourstardave at Saratoga. . . .
Trainer Chad Brown’s Filly & Mare Turf winner, Zagora, was sold as a broodmare prospect for
$2.5 million to Mandore International Agency at the Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale on Monday.
She’ll return to France for breeding purposes.
The Mechanicville native said Watsdachances, who was second in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, had a difficult race.
“Watsdachances lost the right hind shoe in her race, grabbed a quarter and has cuts and abrasions on all four legs,” Brown said. “No excuses, though. I thought she ran great to be second, considering how cut up she got in the race. She’s a very brave horse.”
He said owner Frank Stronach has no clearly defined plans yet for Awesome Feather, who lost for the first time in 11 career starts, to Royal Delta in the Ladies’ Classic. . . .
Royal Delta will once again point to the Dubai World Cup, Mott said, and eventually point to the Classic after winning the Ladies’ Classic the last two years.
Trainer Shivananda Parbhoo said Sprint winner Trinniberg could get a start before the end of the year, in the Malibu on Dec. 26. . . .
Questing, who was eased by Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Ladies’ Classic when she showed no inclinaton to run, was found to have an eye injury after the race.
Her connections, Godolphin Racing and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, could not determine when the injury occurred, although she was fine in the paddock and in the walk-up to the starting gate.
Questing won the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama at Saratoga. . . .
Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness winner who was seventh in the Dirt Mile, is scheduled to be presented for viewing by breeders at Darby Dan Farm this weekend, but could get another start before being retired at the end of the year, trainer Dale Romans said.
Possible races are the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24 and the Clark at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23. . . .
Tapizar, who upset the Dirt Mile at 15-1, has been retired and will begin stallion duty next year at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Ky. . . .
The Lumber Guy, second in the Sprint, has remained in California with trainer Neil Drysdale and will be pointed to the Grade I Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. . . .
With his win on Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith extended his lead over retired Jerry Bailey as the all-time winningest Breeders’ Cup jockey.
Smith broke a 15-15 tie on Royal Delta in the Ladies’ Classic, then won his 17th on Mizdirection.
Smith, who took the Bill Shoemaker Award for outstanding jockey of the 29th BC, and Rajiv Maragh were the only jockeys to win two races on the weekend.
Maragh won the Juvenile Sprint on Hightail and the Filly & Mare Sprint on Groupie Doll. . . .
Hightail’s win was the 19th BC win for trainer Wayne Lukas, and it’s not even close.
Shug McGaughey and Bill Mott have nine each. Mott’s ninth was Royal Delta. . . .
The Saratoga 150 Committee is seeking historical memorabilia to help commemorate the upcoming five-month sesquicentennial celebration that will begin in May.
People who wish to contribute personal collections of Saratoga racing items can drop them off at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. during an open house today.
The Saratoga 150 Committee is interested in building a collection including, but not limited to, photographs, programs, video footage, collectibles and general Saratoga memorabilia.
The museum will be set up with scanners to import photographic prints. Photo submissions can also be made via e-mail at email@example.com.
Items can be loaned or donated outright.
The celebration will mark the 150th anniversary of the inaugural Saratoga Race Course meeting in 1863.
Questions about the open house or about donating or loaning items can be directed to Brien Bouyea at the museum at 584-0400, ext. 133.