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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Belmont Park: Shanghai Bobby gets first test since injury in Aljamin


ELMONT, N.Y. – From what he has seen in the mornings, trainer Todd Pletcher believes Shanghai Bobby is ready to flash the form that made him last year’s champion 2-year-old male when he returns to the races in Friday’s $100,000 Aljamin Stakes at Belmont Park.

“I think the way he’s trained indicates to me he’s as good as he’s ever been or possibly even better but there’s no information like a race,” Pletcher said Wednesday at Belmont.

The Aljamin carded at 6 1/2 furlongs will be Shanghai Bobby’s first start since March 30, when he finished fifth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. He came out of the race with a pelvic fracture that knocked him off the Triple Crown trail. No surgery was required to repair the injury.

More than likely, the distances of the classic races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes were beyond Shanghai Bobby’s scope. At 2, Shanghai Bobby went 5 for 5 with four of those victories in races run around one turn and a gutty head victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile going 1 1/16 miles around two turns in November.

In his 3-year-old debut, Shanghai Bobby finished second to Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull, a two-turn 1 1/16-mile race at Gulfstream, where he earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

Shanghai Bobby, a son of Harlan’s Holiday, returned to Pletcher in the early part of July at Saratoga and has worked eight times since July 29.

How Shanghai Bobby performs in the Aljamin will determine what course Pletcher plots for him in the fall. Possible races could include the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and/or Cigar Mile.

“This race determines everything,” Pletcher said.

Five horses were entered against Shanghai Bobby, including Purple Egg, who makes his first start since finishing third in the Trippi Stakes here in April. Purple Egg, who won his first three starts before finishing last behind Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby in March, came out of the Trippi with a torn gluteal muscle, according to his trainer Jane Cibelli.

Cibelli also entered Purple Egg in Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes, but she said Wednesday she will scratch him from that race after he drew post 14.

“This is better for him than a 14-horse field at this stage of his career,” Cibelli said. “He’s training really, really well. I don’t know if really, really well is good enough for Shanghai Bobby.”

Slan Abhaile, sixth in the King’s Bishop; Tenango, a recent allowance winner at Saratoga; Whiskey Romeo, who won the Trippi here in April; and Dads Caps, fourth in an allowance race in his first start off a five-month layoff, complete the field. Whiskey Romeo is cross-entered in Saturday night’s $400,000 Researcher at Charles Town.

“If Shanghai Bobby shows up and runs his race you’d expect him to be the horse to beat,” Pletcher said. “But it’s not a cupcake spot either.

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