Shanghai Bobby (Rosie Napravnik): set for 2013 debut on SaturdayPICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Jessie Holmes
Shanghai Bobby on Kentucky Derby trail
Preview: USA, Saturday 10.05pm GMT
Gulfstream Park: Holy Bull Stakes (Grade 3) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo
THE Kentucky Derby trail begins in earnest on Saturday when Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby (Todd Pletcher/Rosie Napravnik) kicks off his 2013 campaign at Gulfstream Park.
Named champion US two-year-old last weekend, the son of Harlan's Holiday breaks from the inside gate as he shoulders top-weight against nine rivals in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes.
The Coolmore team bought a share in Shanghai Bobby last year, when he went undefeated in five starts including a pair of Grade 1s, taking the Champagne Stakes at Belmont before a gutsy victory at the Breeders' Cup. He is as short as 10-1 favourite in ante-post lists for the Kentucky Derby.
"Expectations are pretty high, so we have to make sure we've done our job properly and put him in a position where he will perform to the best of his capabilities," said trainer Todd Pletcher.
"Any time you have an undefeated champion, you want to make sure you have him properly prepared so there's always a little added anxiety when you're running one that has a resume like his.
"But it's a position you want to be in," he added. "He's grown up, filling out, all the things you want to see from him going into his three-year-old year."
Shanghai Bobby's reputation has done little to scare off his rivals, who are headed by Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes second and third Frac Daddy (Kenny McPeek/David Cohen) and Dewey Square (Dale Romans/Corey Lanerie). Both of them get 6lb from the favourite, who shares top-weight with Delta Downs Jackpot second Bern Identity (Kelly Breen/PAco Lopez).
Ladbrokes: 4-5 Shanghai Bobby, 9-2 Bern Identity, 6 Frac Daddy, 8 Itsmyluckyday, 12 Dewey Square, 20 Clearly Now, 25 Sr. Quisqueyano, Tulira Castle, 50 Fredericksburg, 100 Joshua's Compromise
Also on Saturday
Gulfstream Park: Forward Gal Stakes (Grade 2) 7f, dirt, 3yo fillies (9.05pm GMT)
Todd Pletcher saddles two here, with dual Grade 2 winner Kauai Katie (John Velazquez), eight-length winner of the Old Hat at this venue three weeks ago, joined by US newcomer Fusaichiswonderful (Joel Rosario), unbeaten in four stakes at Camarero in Puerto Rico.
Also present in an interesting race are dirt debutante Spring Venture (Mark Casse/Patrick Husbands), three times a winner at Woodbine, and My Happy Face (Rudy Rodriguez/Javier Castellano), just beaten by Dreaming Of Julia after a fierce duel in the Grade 1 Frizette.