Shanghai Bobby and jockey Rosie Napravnik capture the Three Chimneys Hopeful… (Adam Coglianese / Associated…)
It's never too early to start getting excited about a possible Kentucky Derby contender, so attention will be focused on unbeaten Shanghai Bobby in Saturday's $2-million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 2-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday is four for four and coming off a five-length victory in the Grade I Champagne Stakes last month at Belmont Park.
"What I've really liked is he's learned to settle off a horse," Pletcher said.
It will be Shanghai Bobby's first race around two turns. He has won at 4 1/2 furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, seven furlongs and a mile. Pletcher said no one is ever "100% sure" whether a horse will be better as the distance increases, but there are signs Shanghai Bobby should be able to handle the 1 1/16-mile distance.
"He's fast, but it's a good kind of fast," Pletcher said. "He's rate-able and has a good mind-set."
Shanghai Bobby didn't arrive on a plane from New York until Wednesday because of travel delays. Pletcher was schooling him in the Santa Anita paddock Thursday.
Gosden's golden memories
Walking along the deep sandy stretch at Santa Anita on Thursday morning brought back fond memories for England-based trainer John Gosden, who has The Fugue running in Friday's Filly and Mare Turf. He won the Classic at Santa Anita with Raven's Pass in 2008.
He was a trainer in Southern California in the 1980s, learning from Hall of Fame member Charlie Whittingham at a time when the celebrated jockeys were named Bill Shoemaker, Chris McCarron and Laffit Pincay Jr.
"We were like a traveling circus, going from here to Hollywood Park to Del Mar," Gosden said. "It was a wonderful era. It was tremendous camaraderie among the owners, trainers and jockeys. It was a golden time."
Gosden left for his native England in 1989 and has won close to 60 Group I races. He has trained four Breeders' Cup winners and always enjoys returning to Southern California.
"I have a lot of good friends here," he said.
New heart, new hope
Trainer Kathy Ritvo received a heart transplant four years ago, so she's not worried if her 4-year-old colt, Mucho Macho Man, comes charging down the stretch Saturday in the $5-million Classic.
"There's no pressure," she said. "He does the job. He makes it easy. I waited six months for a transplant, for my heart. This is easy."
Jockey Mario Gutierrez, who rode I'll Have Another to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this year, was honored at Wednesday night's National Turf Writers and Broadcasters annual dinner. His presenter was the horse's former owner, J. Paul Reddam, who said he had only one complaint about Gutierrez.
"I wish he'd stop calling me Paul," Reddam said.
Gutierrez came forward to accept his award and began by saying, " "Thanks, Paul."
Times staff writer Bill Dwyre contributed to this report.