As racing drew to a close at Saratoga in New York for the 2012 race meet, one last two-year-old stakes race went to post on September 3. The G2 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes saw eight colts line in an attempt to become the victor. Todd Pletcher’s Shanghai Bobby would win the race, which was fitting after the trainer unleashed numerous impressive two-year-olds on the meet.
But the race's winner looks to have earned more than just a grade two victory and hefty purse.
A Kentucky Derby winner hasn’t won the Hopeful since Affirmed, but four Hopeful winners have gone on to place in the top seven in the race since 2000. Since the Hopeful’s first running in 1904, it has produced eight Derby winners, three of which went on to win the Triple Crown.
More recently, Afleet Alex completed two legs of the Triple Crown after flashing under the wire first in the 2003 Hopeful Stakes.
While the Hopeful’s prominence as a feeder for the Derby may have waned in recent years, it has been an excellent producer of G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contenders with seven Hopeful winners running in the race since the turn of the century. Three of those runners finished second in the race and one finished third. The Hopeful also produced the 1984 and 1997 winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The Hopeful's resume also boasts wins by horses such as Man o’ War, Native Dancer, and Buckpasser.
So far, Shanghai Bobby hasn’t had a chance to live up to the success of other Hopeful Stakes winners, but with an undefeated record in three starts, he has the potential to be a star. The son of Harlan’s Holiday won his debut by four lengths in April followed by a victory in the Track Barron Stakes in late June. He won the Hopeful by 3 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:22.72 over seven to make his combined winning margin 8 3/4 lengths in his three races.
As for keeping the Hopeful’s history of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile starts alive, the race has given Shanghai Bobby an automatic berth to the race as a ‘Win and You’re In’ race. But first, Shanghai Bobby will be working towards the G1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont in October, a race that 10 Hopeful winners have won since 1946.