Shackleford returns to Saratoga
Saturday's Whitney Handicap was the feature race of the weekend, but Preakness winner Shackleford is no doubt the biggest horse running in Saratoga this weekend. YNN's Matt Hunter caught up with trainer Dale Romans to talk about the colt.
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE -- "That was one of the best races I've ever had a horse run, I mean, he was game all the way, he had to fight and he did," said Dale Romans, trainer.
Even to his trainer, Romans, Shackleford's performance in May's Met Mile at Belmont Park was awe inspiring. The four-year-old colt led from the gate, and held off a furious charge from Caleb's Posse to cross the wire in front.
"There were a couple of strides inside the sixteenth pole where I though Caleb's Posse was going to get by us, but then when he didn't go ahead and move with his momentum, I thought we were going to hold him off," Romans remembered.
By the numbers, the Met Mile was Shackleford's fastest race, even better than his victory in the 2011 Preakness. More than two months later, he is set to return in Sunday's $400,000 Vanderbilt Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
"This is the first time out of any of his races he's been a little tired, and that's why we're not in the Whitney today (Saturday). He's good now, he's back on his toes and I just think this race will be a little less taxing than the Whitney, and you know, it's time for him to get back in the game," said Romans.
Run at six furlongs, the Vanderbilt will be the shortest race of Shackleford's career. In his only prior start over the Saratoga surface, he ran a disappointing eighth in last year's Travers.
Romans said, "He's thrown a couple of clunkers in his career and that Travers was one of them, we didn't really have explanations for them, and he's always bounced back, so hopefully it wasn't the surface and everything will be good."
If the horse's poise and attitude is any indication, he should be just fine the second time around at Saratoga. Nestled behind the main track, the big horse has been known to get a bit cozy in the dirt. For Romans, it's a sign his horse is comfortable with his surroundings and is ready for another strong performance.