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Up the Backstretch: Don't overlook Shanghai Bobby

By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - The Breeders' Cup World Championships are complete and now the discussion turns to Horse of the Year for 2012. Talk concerning Horse of the Year often resembles that of who should be crowned college football champion, it takes on certain biases.

Coming out of the Breeders' Cup, the names that are getting the most attention are Wise Dan, Little Mike, Royal Delta and still Game On Dude. The first three all won their races at Santa Anita while Game On Dude faltered as the 6-5 favorite in the Classic.

Immediately after the 29th Breeders' Cup concluded, Mile champ Wise Dan was offered up as the odds-on favorite to be voted Horse of the Year. The 5-year- old gelding, trained by Charles Lopresti, proved to be the best miler with three straight stakes wins at the distance including a decisive victory in the Mile against European runners.

"He's an incredible horse," Lopresti said after the victory. "He's just a dream come true. You work all your life to get a horse like this."

Little Mike surprised most with his win in the Breeders' Cup Turf, again versus European grass specialists. Trained by Dale Romans, the 5-year-old gelding had led wire-to-wire in winning the Arlington Million in July and was simply ignored for the Turf.

Royal Delta became just the second horse to win consecutive runnings of the Ladies' Classic. Her Friday win came after a 9 1/2-length victory at Belmont Park in the Beldame. However, she lost in the Personal Ensign and barely held on in the Delaware Handicap.

Going into the Breeders' Cup, Game On Dude was acknowledged as the horse to beat, with a Classic win virtually guaranteeing him Horse of the Year honors. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 5-year-old gelding didn't run his usual race at his home track to finish off the board.

A horse not being mentioned by most is 2-year-old colt Shanghai Bobby. Winner of the Juvenile, the Todd Pletcher-trained runner is perfect in five starts. His win at the Breeders' Cup was actually quite impressive considering he looked beat in mid-stretch.

Shanghai Bobby, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, was running second to the outside of pacesetter Title Contender in the Juvenile. The favorite took over the lead on the final turn but began to noticeably tire nearing the furlong pole. Somehow, Napravnik was able to keep her mount together down the stretch and post a head victory over He's Had Enough. The win showed that Shanghai Bobby is a unique horse with a little attitude.

There has not been a 2-year-old voted Horse of the Year since 1997 when Favorite Trick got the title. Shanghai Bobby seems as good a choice for 2012 as any of the older thoroughbreds.

11/06 14:45:39 ET


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