Shanghai Bobby Gets Final Tune-Up for Besilu Stables Florida Derby
Live Lively Preps for Gulfstream Oaks with Easy Breeze
Merit Man Gets Final Tune-Up for Florida Derby

Shanghai Bobby Gets Final Tune-Up for Besilu Stables Florida Derby

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Champion Shanghai Bobby breezed five furlongs at Palm Meadows Training Center Sunday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby at Gulfstream Saturday.

Working in company with stablemate Palace Malice, the 2012 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile champion was timed in 1:00.82, the sixth fastest of 30 works recorded at the distance.

“I thought he worked well, consistent with what he normally does. He’s not an overzealous work horse, but I think we got a good tightener and everything has gone according to plan,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Shanghai Bobby raced to the outside of Palace Malice, who was also timed in 1:00.82 and was about a half-length ahead of his stablemate at the finish line.

“I thought Palace Malice worked super, finished up great and galloped out strong. It seems like he’s been doing really well since the Risen Star,” said Pletcher, who plans to send the third-place finisher in the Risen Star (G2) back to Fair Grounds for next Saturday’s Louisiana Derby (G2). “I’d say he’s improving, but he’s always trained really well and we’ve had really high hopes for him and he has performed.”

Shanghai Bobby went undefeated in five starts last year, capping the season with Grade 1
victories in the Champagne at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The son of Harlan’s Holiday suffered his first career loss in his 2013 debut in the $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 19. After setting the pace, Shanghai Bobby was defeated by Itsmyluckyday by two lengths.

With the addition of speedy sprinter Merit Man to the list of probables, Shanghai Bobby likely won’t find himself on the lead as he did from his inside post in the Holy Bull.

“I think it’s fine. We’d actually prefer a target. If (Merit Man) goes to the lead, fine,” Pletcher said.
Shanghai Bobby, who ranked 11th on Churchill Downs’ new points list for Kentucky Derby qualifying Sunday morning, likely needs an on-the-board finish to clinch an entry into the 20-horse field.

“I’m not worried about the points,” Pletcher said. “I figure if he runs good enough, it won’t be a problem.

Although there seemed a possibility that the Florida Derby field might come up short a few weeks ago, the list of probables has expanded during the past week with a field of nine or 10 or more likely.

“I never expected it to be a short field. None of these fields come up short with Derby points on the line,” Pletcher said. “I expected it to be a big field and post position won’t be a big deal for me.”

In addition to Shanghai Bobby and Palace Malice, several other Pletcher-trainees were sent to the track to prepare for Kentucky Derby preps, most notably Verrazano, currently the early favorite for the Run for the Roses.

The son of More than Ready, who captured the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) by three lengths in only his third lifetime start, was timed in 49.79 seconds while working a half-mile in company with Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) winner Discreet Dancer.

“You could say ‘maintenance’ except that the gallop-out was pretty awesome. It was pretty impressive,” Pletcher said.

Verrazano, who captured the first two races of his career at the Gulfstream Park meeting by a combined 24 lengths, is scheduled to run in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 6.

Revolutionary, a candidate for the Louisiana Derby, worked in company with Overanalyze, breezing a half-mile in 48.20 seconds.

“I thought he went super. He was well in hand,” Pletcher said. “He’s coming up to the race in good order.”

Dreaming of Julia, scheduled to run in next Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), breezed an easy half in 50.90 seconds.

“It was a good steady work. The half-mile time doesn’t look impressive, but I clocked the last three-eighths afterwards and it was impressive,” Pletcher said. “She galloped out great and she’s coming up to this race well.”

Meanwhile, Pletcher, well on his way to his 10th straight training title at Gulfstream, was pleasantly surprised to be able to find another five-furlong turf allowance for fillies and mares to pop up for Wednesday’s card. Stopshoppingmaria, who has won three straight races at the distance on turf, has been entered for Wednesday’s $70,000 featured fifth race.

“She’s had a great winter here. I didn’t really expect to have another opportunity to run her here, but when this race came up, I figured she’s 3-for-3 doing it and she’s got another chance, so why not try it?” Pletcher said.

Live Lively Preps for Gulfstream Oaks with Easy Breeze

An impressive two-time winner at the current meeting, Mark Hennig-trained Live Lively breezed a half-mile in 49.78 seconds Sunday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center.

“She went nice and easy, really easy. It’s all we needed. She had a strong work last week,” Hennig said. “We didn’t want to do too much with her this week. She was nice and relaxed.”

Live Lively, who is set to run in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on the Besilu Stables Florida Derby undercard, is riding a four-race winning streak. After winning a 5 ½-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct in her second lifetime start, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro captured a seven-furlong allowance by 11 ¼ lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 1. Making the jump to graded company, Live Lively set all the pace to capture the Davona Dale (G2) by 1 ½ lengths over Dreaming of Julia on Feb. 23.

“She’s an outstanding-looking individual. Talent-wise, I feel like there’s still a lot to see. She’s done everything we’ve asked of her, and I’ve asked a lot of her,” Hennig said. “I ran her 5 ½ (furlongs) at Aqueduct, and she wasn’t quite fit to do that. Then she was off and ran seven-eighths. She went from seven-eighths seven weeks later. To run two turns in a graded stake is a lot to ask, because she didn’t really get a lot of experience out of that first race at Gulfstream. She was never around any other horses. I think she’s adapting and got a lot out of that last race. It should move her forward.”

Other notable workers at Palm Meadows Sunday morning included 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, who breezed three furlongs in 36.90, and Pants on Fire, who breezed five furlongs in 1:02.08. Both horses are being pointed toward next Saturday’s $100,000 Skip Away (G
3) at Gulfstream Park.

Merit Man Gets Final Tune-Up for Florida Derby

Bruce Chandler, James Glavin and Robert McKee’s 3-year-old Merit Man worked an easy five furlongs in 1:04 from the gate Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park with Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard for trainer Bob Hess, Jr. in preparation for next Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1), a race that will mark his first start around two turns.

“I put him in the gate to sharpen him up a little. He can get a little lazy,” said Hess, who selected and recommended the With Distinction colt’s purchase for $75,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old sales. “We weren’t looking for a lot of speed and he galloped out strong.”

Merit Man was almost perfect in three starts last year winning his first two starts at Del Mar and Santa Anita and just missing by a nose to longshot Hightail in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. In two starts at Gulfstream, he won the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes on New Year’s Day and finished a close-up fourth in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) going seven furlongs last out Feb. 2.