Jockey Rosie Napravnik thinks Shanghai Bobby is just getting started.
The 2-year-old colt would be hard-pressed to provide more thrills next year during a possible Triple Crown campaign after he dug deep down the stretch and held off a late charging He’s Had Enough to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by a head on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Now unbeaten in five starts, Shanghai Bobby stamped himself as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with the rousing victory, although his connections weren’t making any travel plans for Louisville just yet.
For Napravnik, who joins Julie Krone as the only female jockeys to win a Breeders’ Cup race, she was amazed by the horse’s resilience.
”I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of him,” she said. ”He’s got unlimited talent.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher praised his horse as well.
”He’s fast and he’s courageous,” Pletcher said. ”He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him from 4-1/2 furlongs to 1-1/16 miles. He just keeps coming.”
It was a busy week for Shanghai Bobby. His flight from New York to California was delayed by Hurricane Sandy and the renowned Coolmore Stud spent an undisclosed sum to buy a 50 percent stake in the horse.
Sent off as the betting favorite, Shanghai Bobby sat just off the lead for most of the race, trailing Title Contender. Shanghai Bobby made an early move on the turn as Title Contender faded and the horse found himself all alone — which wasn’t necessarily a good position, according to Napravnik.
”Bobby gets a little lost when he’s out there by himself,” she said. ”I just couldn’t wait until the horses came up next to me. He turns back on like no one horse I ever felt.”
He Had Enough, trained by Doug O’Neill, who won this year’s Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another, challenged Shanghai Bobby down the stretch. Although Shanghai Bobby appeared to weaken, He Had Enough didn’t have enough to get by at the finish line.
”Right to the end, I was still thinking he was going to get there,” O’Neill said. ”He got beat by a nice horse.”
Shanghai Bobby covered 1-1/16 miles in 1 minute, 44.58 seconds and paid $4.60 on a $2 win bet. Capo Bastone was third.
All nine entrants raced without Lasix, a diuretic commonly used to treat respiratory bleeding that was banned by the Breeders’ Cup from all 2-year-old races.
With the Breeders’ Cup win, Shanghai Bobby boosted his career earnings to more than $1.6 million. It was the second Juvenile win for Pletcher, who was in the winner’s circle last in 2010 with Uncle Mo.
Shanghai Bobby could be put to stud at the end of his 3-year-old campaign, his connections said, but a shot at history still stands in front of him. No female jockey has won the Kentucky Derby and there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since 1978.
”I’m really excited to see how good he gets because I don’t think anybody knows yet,” Napravnik said.