Stakes winner Shanghai Bobby part of a tough one-two combo for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The 110th running of the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) appears on paper to be Todd Pletcher's race to lose. Though, interestingly for a man who is consistently king of the East Coast 2-year-old scene, Pletcher is seeking his first win in this event.
His charges include the morning-line favorite, Shanghai Bobby, for owners Starlight Racing and to be ridden by jockey Rosie Napravnik. The Kentucky Oaks (G1)-winning jockey has been in a bit of a slump since breaking a toe several weeks ago, but she has proven to be quite the money rider in her career. Shanghai Bobby is a son of Harlan's Holiday who has won his two starts by a combined margin of five lengths and is seeking his second stakes win in a row.
Directly to his outside is his stablemate Drum Roll, an expensive 2-year-olds in training sale purchase earlier this year who overcame a green start from the gate to triumph emphatically in his debut a month ago at Monmouth Park. The improving bay colt has been working in company on Saratoga's Oklahoma Training Track and gets the standard jockey switch from Chris DeCarlo to newly inducted Hall of Famer John Velazquez (DeCarlo is Pletcher's first call rider at Monmouth, Velazquez has the duties in New York).
Looking to rain on Pletcher's parade are five trainers, each also seeking his first win in this historic event. Mike Hushion trains In Harm's Way, the only New York-bred in the field. A son of Hook and Ladder, the bay colt has only faced state-breds but drew off impressively in his second start to earn a spot in the starting gate this Saturday. In Harm's Way again will be ridden by Edgar Prado, who won this race aboard D' Funnybone in 2009.
Meanwhile, Rick Violette will saddle Spurious Precision on a relatively quick turnaround of just 22 days. The son of High Cotton signaled it shouldn't be a problem with a blistering bullet (fastest time at the distance) drill on the main track earlier in the week.
SPURIOUS PRECISION WINNING DEBUT AT SARATOGA
As with any field of 2-year-olds, there is plenty of speed in this contest. However, the Ken McPeek-trained longshot He's So Fine is the lone entrant to show he can win from well off the pace. Granted, that was against maiden claimers at Belmont, but when horses are this young, there isn't much separation between high-level claimers and maiden special weight company because there haven't been enough races.
Rounding out the field are two shippers who have drawn next to each other: Dan the Tin Man is the Canadian invader, who fired a quick bullet in a drill on Woodbine's synthetic surface in his final prep. Javier Castellano will be looking for his second straight Saratoga Special aboard the precociously bred son of Songandaprayer. And shipping in from Parx Racing in Pennslyvania is the Tony Dutrow trained Southern Honor, who broke his maiden by an impressive nearly 8 lengths and will be ridden for the first time by the meet's leading rider, Ramon Dominguez.
In Harm's Way
$200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes (G2)
Sunday, Saratoga, Race 11, 6:46 p.m. EDT
2-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs (dirt)
PP Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. In Harm's Way, E.S. Prado, 118, M E Hushion
2. He's So Fine, D. Cohen, 118, K G McPeek
3. Spurious Precision, A. Garcia, 118, R A Violette Jr.
4. Southern Honor, R.A. Dominguez, 118, A W Dutrow
5. Dan the Tin Man, J. Castellano, 118, R Griffith
6. Shanghai Bobby, R. Naptavnik, 122, T A Pletcher
7. Drum Roll, J.R. Velazquez, 118, T A Pletcher