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Pletcher Sweeps Belmont Park’s Juvenile Stakes

dreaming of julia
Todd Pletcher continued his domination of the 2-year-old division in New York. After sweeping the juvenile stakes races last weekend, he repeated the feat again on Saturday.

He won the 141st Grade 1, $400,000 Foxwoods Champagne with Shanghai Bobby and the 65th Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette for fillies with Dreaming of Julia.

Shanghai Bobby, one of three Foxwoods Champagne entrants for Pletcher, flanked pacesetter Goldencents through a quarter-mile in 23.55 seconds and a half in 47.45, wrested command turning for home, and drew off under Rosie Napravnik’s vigorous hand ride to prevail by five lengths. Goldencents held second by a length over Fortify.

“He broke real sharp and we sat real comfortable outside of the horse that was on the lead [Goldencents],” said Napravnik, who later won the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap aboard King David. “He was taking me to the lead before I wanted to go, but he was full of it and did it as easy as could be. He’s just gotten better and more mature with every start and I think he’s just going to continue to grow and exceed our expectations.”

The final time for one mile was 1:35.55, with Shanghai Bobby returning $5.30 for a $2 win wager as the 8-5 favorite.

Owned by Starlight Racing, Shanghai Bobby is unbeaten in four starts and has gradually stretched out in distance since his debut in a 4 ½-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct Racetrack in April. A one-length score in the 5 ½-furlong Track Barron overnight stakes in June at Belmont and a 3 ¾-length victory in the Grade 2 Three Chimneys Hopeful on September 3 at Saratoga preceded his Foxwoods Champagne triumph.

“He’s shown the adaptability to stalk, and yet he has tactical speed to keep pressure on someone, keeping them from getting loose,” said Pletcher, who last Sunday swept the Grade 2 Futurity with Overanalyze and the Grade 2 Matron with Kauai Katie. “He’s tenacious. He has all of the tools.”

The Foxwoods Champagne is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 3 at Santa Anita.

Heavily favored Dreaming of Julia used similar tracking tactics to win the Frizette but had to work much harder, pressing My Happy Face through fractions of 23.22 and 46.19, claiming a slender advantage inside the three eighths, and appearing poised to slip away at the top of the stretch before the pacesetter came back along the inside. At the wire, it was Dreaming of Julia in front by a hard-fought head following a thrilling stretch duel.

“[My Happy Face] is a nice filly, she won [her last race] by 21 lengths,” said winning jockey John Velazquez. “I had to put pressure on her the whole way around to make it a match race and it ended up being a match race, anyway. But she’s gutsy, that’s what she is.”

Off at 1-10, Dreaming of Julia paid $2.30 and completed the Frizette’s one-mile distance in 1:37.10.

Dreaming of Julia, a Stonestreet Stables homebred by A.P. Indy, had won her two previous starts handily, taking her debut by 10 ½ lengths on August 6 at Saratoga and the Meadow Star overnight stakes by 16 ¼ lengths on September 9 at Belmont. She has earned $339,000 to date.

The Frizette field was reduced to four when Carameaway was withdrawn early and Roeving Patrol and Sweet Shirley Mae were scratched at the gate.

“I think with the scratches, on paper, it turned into a virtual match race,” said Pletcher. “Most match races, the speed horse has the edge, so we had to kind of take it to her a little bit.

With her victory in the Frizette, also a “Win and You’re In” race, Dreaming of Julia is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2.

“We hope [to run in The Breeders’ Cup]; we were looking at today as a prep, so we hope she comes out of it well,” said Pletcher.

–NYRA Press contributed to this report.

Dreaming of Julia/NYRA photo

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