• Great Minds, owned by New England Patriot Vince Wilfork, to debut on Saturday
• Probables for Super Saturday stakes, Matron and Futurity
• Trakus unveiled at Belmont Park
Shanghai Bobby, competing in a sprint for the first time since winning the Grade 1 Hopeful last year, raced in second as Dads Caps set fractions of 22.58 seconds for a quarter-mile and 45.15 for a half. Dads Caps clung to a tenuous lead in the stretch before Shanghai Bobby gained the upper hand in the final sixteenth. Slan Abhaile rallied along the rail to overtake Dads Caps late for second.
The final time for 6 ½ furlongs was 1:15.79. Shanghai Bobby returned $3.20 for a $2 win wager as the 3-5 favorite.
"It was my first time riding him, but I had watched his previous races, and what he does is get to the lead and wait," said Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. "I didn't want to make a premature move and get to the lead too quickly; then, I waited too long and it took him a long time to get going. Finally, when he got to the lead, he started waiting again. His gallop out was really good. He's a tough horse to read."
Todd Pletcher, who trains Shanghai Bobby for Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, and Derrick Smith, said he will consider running Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders' Cup in early November at Santa Anita.
"He ran really well off the layoff," said Pletcher. "I thought he ran well enough today to put us in the mix for the Breeders' Cup Sprint or the Dirt Mile, but we'll see how he bounces out of it."
It was the first victory of 2013 for Shanghai Bobby, who was second in the Grade 3 Holy Bull in January and fifth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March. Both starts came at Gulfstream Park. He was unbeaten in five starts a 2-year-old, concluding his 2012 campaign with a victory in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Tenango and Purple Egg completed the order of finish. Whiskey Romeo was scratched.
* * *
Great Minds will carry the colors of New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork when the 2-year-old makes his debut in Saturday's sixth race, a one-mile maiden special weight on the turf.
Wilfork is currently playing his 10th season for the Patriots, who selected him in the first round (21st overall) of the 2004 draft. Earlier this year, Wilfork was interviewed by America's Best Racing about his interest in horse racing.
Great Minds is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado. The colt is by Stroll and is out of Staff Nurse, who has produced three winners from as many starters. Staff Nurse herself won two races and is a half-sister to stakes winners Love Medicine, Hot Lear, and Intern.
* * *
The Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational, one of six graded stakes on September 28 at Belmont Park, is expected to be a showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Belmont Stakes victor Palace Malice, and many of the top older males, according to NYRA Vice President and Director of Racing P.J. Campo. Most recently, Orb and Palace Malice were third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade 1 Travers. Also expected for the 1 ¼-mile race are Grade 1 Woodward top-two finishers Alpha and Flat Out (winner of the past two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup), Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap hero Cross Traffic, and Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin victor Last Gunfighter. Liaison and Ron the Greek are possible.
A field of seven turf stars, including Grade 1 winners Big Blue Kitten and Boisterous and defending Breeders' Cup Turf champion Little Mike, is expected for the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.
Big Blue Kitten, star of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga and Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park, will be making his first appearance at Belmont since 2011, when he won a starter allowance and an allowance, while Boisterous is 6-0-3 in 10 turf starts at his home track, including a victory in the Grade 1 Man o' War and a third-place finish after an eventful trip in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap.
Winless in four starts this year following his 17-1 upset of last year's Breeders' Cup Turf, Little Mike is 1-0-0 from two starts at Belmont, having won an optional claimer in 2010 and finishing fifth in the 2012 Turf Classic.
Also expected for the 1 ½-mile Turf Classic are Boisterous' stablemate Imagining, front-running winner of the Idle Rich overnight stakes last time out at Saratoga; Nutello, third in the Sword Dancer in his American debut; Slumber, who launched his stateside career with a pair of optional claiming wins at Saratoga for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, and Sword Dancer runner-up Twilight Eclipse. King Kreesa, second in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan last time out, is possible.
Fillies and mares will travel 1 ¼ miles on the turf in the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational. Trainer Alan Goldberg and owner Richard Santulli are expected to have a powerful 1-2 combination with Laughing and Tannery. Laughing has won three straight, including the Grade 1 Diana and Grade 2 Ketel One Ballston Spa, while Tannery was fourth in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational against males in her most recent start. Also probable are Kissable, Mystical Star, Qushchi, Somali Lemonade, Valiant Girl, and White Rose.
The winners of Saratoga's two Grade 1 races for older sprinters will meet again in the Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational at six furlongs. Justin Phillip won the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, then was fifth in the Grade 1 Forego, which was captured by Strapping Groom. The probables also include 2012 Vosburgh victor The Lumber Guy, as well as Bahamian Squall, Candyman E, Forty Tales, and Palace.
Royal Delta, aiming for her third Eclipse Award, will make a title defense in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares. Most recently, she took the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap by 4 ½ lengths. Her competition is expected to include Kentucky Oaks, TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama heroine Princess of Sylmar, And Why Not, Authenticity, Centring, and Go Unbridled. Lady Cohiba is possible.
Graydar will return from a six-month absence when he competes in the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Invitational Handicap. Earlier this year, he garnered the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. Also probable are Brujo de Olleros, Hymn Book, Jaguar Paw, and Souper Speedy. Ron the Greek also is under consideration.
Graded stakes action continues on Sunday with a pair of six-furlong races for 2-year-olds: the Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity and the Grade 2, $200,000 Matron.
In the Futurity, recent maiden winners In Trouble and Sound of Freedom will take on Big Sugar Soda and Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner Corfu, fourth and ninth, respectively, in the Grade 1 Hopeful. Financial Mogul and Howaboutwe are possible.
Miss Behavior will step up in class for the Matron, which is restricted to fillies. She is unbeaten in two starts, including a 8 ¼-length romp in the Sorority at Monmouth Park. Joining her on the list of probables are Brazen Persuasion, Cynical Storm, Grace, Sweet Whiskey, and Yes Liz. Miss Narcissist is possible.
* * *
Trakus, the wireless tracking system that allows viewers to follow the precise position of each horse throughout a race via colored "chicklets" at the bottom of the television screen, was unveiled today at Belmont Park and will also be employed at Aqueduct Racetrack and Saratoga Race Course.
To make Trakus work, a tiny transponder is placed in the saddletowel of each horse. The transponder sends a signal to antennas around the racetrack to generate, via computer, a digital image that is shown on the bottom of the television screen corresponding to the saddletowel colors. The chicklets move in real-time, showing the actual position of the horses relative to the pack.
"We are pleased to offer this innovative technology to improve the experience of our customers both on- and off-track," said Eric Wing, director of communications for The New York Racing Association, Inc. "It is part of our continuing effort to offer the very best information to our f