Haskin's Preakness Recap: Shack and Awe

Two days before the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), trainer Dale Romans was standing outside the fence by the grazing area telling Shackleford’s co-owners and breeders Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge how revved up their colt was since arriving at Baltimore the day before. As he spoke, Shackleford was in his stall ripping into his hay rack with great vigor.

“He got off the van high as a kite,” Romans said. “When I had him out grazing, he wanted to buck with me. He came out of the Derby sharper than he went in; it’s unreal. He’s been a man since he came out of that race. I’ve never seen him like this. When he was out on the track yesterday, he started bucking in the middle of his gallop.”

Just then, a loud noise could be heard from Shacklelford’s stall. Romans and his partner in life and assistant Tammy Fox went over to check it out. As if offering visual proof to back up his trainer’s words, the big chestnut, right on cue, had lunged forward breaking the crossbar above his webbing.  He stood there sheepishly as the screws were reinserted in the wall.

Two days later, Shackleford again lunged forward, this time as he was turning back the challenge of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom. It was that final lunge with 70 yards to go that enabled the son of Forestry – Oatsee, by Unbridled to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown and provide Romans with his first classic winner.

The script for the Preakness had been played out perfectly. Romans knew the pace of the race would be the key factor for Shackleford, who had the swift-footed Flashpoint directly inside him and the talented stalkers Midnight Interlude and Dance City two stalls away on his outside.

Although it seemed to many that Shackleford’s only chance was for him and Flashpoint to slow the pace down, Romans had a different take. He felt Shackleford had too much stamina and class for Flashpoint and eventually would assert his authority and take control of the race. By letting his colt establish a quick pace early he could take his pursuers out of their comfort zone.

“You go slow and you let them in the game,” Romans said the day before the Preakness. “When I had Roses in May, I always told the jock to let him roll and kill off everyone behind him. He had speed and wanted to go on, just like Shackleford. When I sat down with (jockey) John Velazquez before the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), the natural inclination was for Johnny to slow the pace down. I said ‘Bull; this horse is fast and could keep going and they can’t keep up with him.’ He just gunned him out of there and let him go fast the whole way. It looked like Choctaw Nation (a powerful closer) was going to blow right by him in the stretch, but he hit a wall, because he had worked so hard just to get up to him.”

Romans had just written the script for the 136th Preakness. When Shackleford and Flashpoint tore through an opening quarter in a rapid :22.69, most everyone felt they both were cooked. But by running that quickly early, it forced his main threat, Animal Kingdom, to retreat to the back of the pack in 13th, nearly 20 lengths behind the dueling leaders.

Shackleford and Flashpoint then were able to slow the pace down, and as Romans expected, Shackleford roared by Flashpoint on the far turn. Midnight Interlude, Astrology, and Dance City, who had been racing in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, tried to close in, but Shackleford was now in complete control of the race. He was able to open a clear lead in the stretch, while closing his final three-sixteenths in a quick :19.25.

Animal Kingdom came charging at him, but had to make up that 18-length deficit in doing so. That, combined with Shackleford’s tenacity, led to the Derby winner’s downfall. Just like Choctaw Nation and Roses in May in the 2005 World Cup, Animal Kingdom had worked hard just to get up to Shackleford and couldn’t get by the gutsy colt, who had plenty left to repulse the challenge. Romans’ perfect script again had a perfect ending.

Up in his box, Romans stood up and began pounding on his chair as they neared the wire. After Shackleford had held on for the victory, Romans fell over Tammy and their son 15-year-old Jake and 18-year-old daughter Bailey, and then picked all three of them up in one massive bear hug.

“I’ve never seen him get that emotional,” Bailey said. “He literally fell over all of us. He gave us a hug like you could never imagine. My mom, my brother, and me, he grabbed us and picked us up at the same time. It was amazing.”

Jake added, “He was going crazy. He was pretty nervous before the race. I could tell, because I said something to him and he wouldn’t answer me.”  

One of the reasons why Romans seemed to be a bit out of sorts prior to the race was because he had just received a phone call while crossing the track after saddling Shackleford informing him that Paddy O’Prado, who had just won the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) the race before, was limping in the test barn, located on the backstretch. The veterinarian asked if he wanted to van him back to the barn or walk him. It was decided to van him back.

Following the Preakness, there was Shackleford attacking his hay rack as visitors snapped photos of him, while Paddy O’Prado stood in the stall next to him, his injured foot in an ice bucket. Two days later he would be retired.

“It’s unreal, the ups and downs of this game,” said Romans, whose horse, by finishing second in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and winning the Preakness, had just won a $550,000 consolation bonus, sponsored by Magna International Developments.

Those ups and downs held true for Mike Lauffer, who rejoiced over Shackleford’s victory while having to cope with the unexpected death of his future son-in-law several days earlier. Although he'd be attending the funeral on Monday, Lauffer kept the tragedy to himself and tried to soak in every moment of what likely will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“My wife and daughter are doing fine; they’re absolutely ecstatic about the race,” Lauffer said, wanting to focus on the victory. “Our little town of Paintsville, Ky. has been so excited about the Derby and now the Preakness. It’s just unbelievable how lucky I’ve been in this business. I’ve only been involved for six years and I’ve already been part owner of Rachel Alexandra, and now Bill and I win the Preakness with the first colt we’ve ever raced.”

Lauffer’s son Seth added, “It's been a rough week, but right now I’m so excited my legs are still numb. I remember Dale telling me and my dad after he had Shackleford about two weeks, ‘We’re going to have a lot of fun with this horse.’”

The victory also was emotional for jockey Jesus Castanon, who lost his father, a former trainer in Mexico City, last November. “When I crossed the wire he just came to me,” he said. “I know he was up there watching me.”

Romans still found it hard to believe how far he’s come since he and his brother, Jerry, were emptying out muck baskets and filling up water buckets for their father at the age of 8.

“It’s unbelievable,” Romans said. “I’ve been on the racetrack my entire life and I never thought training stakes horses was a realistic goal starting out, much less having a classic winner. Since starting with my father (who died in 2008 at age 58), I’ve been in the same barn at Churchill Downs for 40 years, and we lived only three miles from the track. Getting a horse like this wasn’t even a dream. All I was looking to do was make a living in this business in some way.”

From a career that began with mostly claimers, Romans has now finished in the top four in five consecutive Triple Crown races (third in the Kentucky Derby with Paddy O’Prado, second in the Preakness with First Dude, third in the Belmont with First Dude, fourth in the Kentucky Derby with Shackleford, and first in the Preakness with Shackleford).

Jerry, who works for R.J. Reynolds and owns the stakes-winning Sassy Image, trained by his brother, added, “Our father (also named Jerry) had us walking hots and rolling bandages when we were 10 and we both had our trainer’s license at 16. He just had cheap claimers his entire career. He didn’t like babies, because he said you had your money tied up too long, and he couldn’t bring himself to spend $100,000 of some guy’s money and then look him in the eye and tell him his horse ain’t worth $10,000. He liked claiming horses, because you could turn right around and see them run. Dad accommodated the average man; he’d seen too many owners go broke in this game. Shackleford is probably worth more than the total value of all the horses our dad ever trained. He’d be immensely proud if he were here today.”

“I think he’d be blown away,” Dale said. “I don’t think he won but two or three stakes his entire career, but it was a good enough career to raise us all.”

Romans, Lauffer, and Cubbedge  knew early on that Shackleford had the potential to be something special after buying him back for $275,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. But he first had a good deal of maturing to do.

“He needed time to be the best he could be,” said Webb Carroll, who broke the colt and put him through his early training at his facility in St. Matthews, S.C. “He kept getting better and better and better. He always had the ability to think things through. In the beginning he was reluctant to get in the gate, but we never pushed him. I just got in his mind and finessed him and played with him. Then one day he amazed us. Out of the clear blue sky he just walked in on his own and was never a problem again. Dale has done a fantastic job with him by allowing him to mature. We always treated him like a class horse and that’s what he’s become.”

Shackleford broke his maiden going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs last Nov. 27 in his second career start, and showed his gameness and  tenacity even then by battling head and head on the lead, getting passed at the eighth pole, and coming back to win by three-quarters of a length. He then stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in a Gulfstream allowance race and stalked the pace before drawing off to win by 2 ¼ lengths, despite racing greenly through the stretch.

Although he ran a poor race in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II), getting beat by more than 23 lengths after hitting his head hard in the starting gate, Romans still had confidence in him and wheeled him back in the Florida Derby, where he was beaten a head at 68-1 by Dialed In, battling back after being caught at the sixteenth pole. In the Kentucky Derby, he set all the pace and opened up a clear lead in the stretch, while down on the rail, but was overtaken in the final sixteenth by Animal Kingdom, Nehro (second), and Mucho Macho Man (third), who all made their run well out in the middle of the track.

Romans had no reservations about running him back in two weeks at Pimlico. “He’s training like the two weeks won’t bother him at all,” he said. “He tries all the way to the wire, so we’ve got to keep swinging.”

Shackleford did the swinging in the Preakness and hit it out of the park, despite stumbling coming out of the gate. After that torrid opening quarter, he and Flashpoint were able to slow the pace down, getting the half in :46.87 and the three-quarters in 1:12.01.

“That middle part of the race made it for the winner,” said Animal Kingdom’s trainer Graham Motion, who had kept his colt at the Fair Hill training center, some 60 miles from Pimlico, until the morning of May 21, thus leaving the traditional Derby winner’s “Stall 40” empty until race day for the first time in memory.

Astrology, one of the nine new shooters who did not run in the Derby, saved ground all the way in third, followed by Midnight Interlude and Dance City. Mucho Macho Man was in tight quarters between horses down the backstretch, and as he did in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), he lost a shoe in the race and came back with several cuts. Dialed In, second choice at 4-1, again brought up the rear, right behind Animal Kingdom, who was sent off as the 2-1 favorite.

Animal Kingdom began to pick off horses around the turn, but had a lot of ground to make up on Shackleford, who was still going along easily with his ears cocked. Turning for home, Shackleford kicked on, opening a one-length lead over Astrology at the eighth pole, with Animal Kingdom bearing down on them. Mucho Macho Man somehow had wound up widest off and didn’t have his usual kick. Dialed in was in traffic and making a belated run.

When Shackleford began drifting in down the stretch, Castanon went to a left-handed whip, which resulted in the colt drifting back out. Castanon then switched to a right-handed whip as Animal Kingdom came charging up on his flank. That right-handed whip caused Shackleford to jump back to his left lead. Whether or not it was the change of leads, Shackleford found more and regained the momentum, turning back Animal Kingdom’s challenge. At that point, it became obvious there would be no Triple Crown attempt this year.

The margin of victory was a half-length, with Animal Kingdom 1 ¼ lengths ahead of a stubborn Astrology, who finished 2 ½ lengths in front of Dialed In. The last named was running for the big $5.5 million pot of the Magna bonus. The final time for the 1 3/16 miles was 1:56.47 over a drying out fast track.

Back at the barn, Motion came over to congratulation Romans. “Sonofagun,” he said putting his arm on Romans’ shoulder.

Romans shook his head and said, “It’s unbelievable,” to which Motion replied, “It’s a funny game.”

Romans took it one step further: “It’s a great game. Hopefully, we can have a great rivalry the rest of the year.”

Motion had to be grateful to Romans for his assistance following the Kentucky Derby.

“After the race, Graham and I both came down the hall to go to the track and he was going in the wrong direction,” Romans said. “I stopped to congratulate him and we hugged. I told him he was going the wrong way. He grabbed the back of my jacket and said, ‘I’ve got to hold on to you; I don’t know where I’m going.’ He followed me and he had a tear rolling down his face. He said, ‘Thank God, someone knows where they’re going.’ I led him down the steps and you could tell he was just in another world.”

Romans needed no guidance finding his way to the track at Pimlico, although one could say he also appeared to be in another world. He couldn’t help but think back to where he had come from.

Barns 4 and 5, the latter eventually becoming Romans’ barn, at Churchill have always been run like a family affair, just as it was when Romans and Jerry were growing up in Barn 4, which is now Romans’ second barn. “I spent more time there than I did at home,” Romans said.

“We have a great team from top to bottom,” he added. “We have hotwalkers that have been with us for over 10 years. My assistants have been together since we were 19 and 20 working for my father. And Tammy is a huge part of the stable. She breezes all the horses, and there is nobody that gives a better line on a horse than she does.”

Back at the stakes barn, Lauffer had nothing but admiration for his horse, his trainer, and his jockey.

“I’ll tell you what, there’s no quit in that horse,” Laufffer said. “He just doesn’t want to get beat. I am so tickled for that man (pointing to Romans) right there and also for Jesus Castanon.”

Lauffer’s family moved from Marietta, Ohio to Paintsville in Eastern Kentucky, about five miles from Butcher Hollow of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” fame. His father was a petroleum engineer and Lauffer eventually went into the oil and gas business, where he met Cubbedge, who has a dry, in-your-face sense of humor, but prefers letting Lauffer do most of the talking.

After going into partnership on Rachel Alexandra with the filly’s owner and breeder Dolphus Morrison, Lauffer and Morrison sold her following the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) to Jess Jackson for $10 million.

“I told Dolphus and (trainer) Hal Wiggins, ‘Look, you guys have been in the business for over 30 years, so you all can call the shots,’” Lauffer said. “It’s hard to turn down that kind of money.”

Lauffer and Cubbedge decided to name their Forestry colt Shackleford after Shackleford Island, located off the coast of North Carolina.

“There have been wild horses on the island since the 16th century,” Lauffer said. “Some people think a Spanish ship sunk off shore and several of the horses jumped off the ship and swam to this island.”

As for Animal Kingdom, Motion’s wife Anita said, “We’re incredibly proud of him. He backed up his Derby win.”

Motion added, “It wasn’t meant to be. He came pretty darn close, though. He got a lot of dirt kicked in his face today, which was different from the Derby. Johnny (Velazquez) said he was a little closer to the other horses in the Derby, so he took most of the dirt on his chest, whereas today he got a lot of it in his face, so it took him longer to get in gear. This is a remarkable horse. What he has accomplished in such a short period of time is extraordinary. He performed brilliantly.”

Romans expects to take a lot of kidding when he gets back to Churchill Downs, especially from the locals who have shared the trainer’s stand by his barn for years.

“They’ve been giving me hell since before the Derby,” Romans said. “They told me if I win the Derby or one of the other classics they’re gonna have to build me a separate stand, because my ego won’t fit in that one.”

Romans said he would meet with the media the morning after the race at 7:30. At about 7:15, he called Jennie Rees of the Louisville Courier-Journal to say he and his family were running about 15 minutes late, and in typical Romans fashion, asked if any of the media wanted coffee from Starbucks. Rees took the orders from the nine journalists there and relayed them to Romans, who even threw in a hot chocolate as a bonus.

“I went to bed for an hour or two,” said a disheveled Romans, looking as if he had just gotten out of bed. “I don’t know how Todd Pletcher and Wayne Lukas do it. They look so pristine all the time. I walk out of my house to my car and I’m sweating and wrinkled and my shirttail’s out.  Dan Bork at Churchill Downs (assistant racing secretary) said I was the best at making an expensive suit look cheap.”

But that is one of the endearing qualities that makes Romans one of the most amiable and well-liked trainers in the country. Perhaps he best described himself through Shackleford.

“He’s just a big easy-going horse,” he said. “I guess they take on the personality of their trainer.”

81 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Karen in Texas

Another absolutely wonderful piece, Steve--clever title and fantastic crafting of the facts! Shack is such an "honest runner" that I thought he'd be in the money, but didn't know how much the Derby effort might have taken out of him. If Animal Kingdom wasn't able to win, then I'm glad it was Shack in the winner's circle. So happy all the Preakness horses finished safely, and that Paddy O'Prado was quickly diagnosed. Now on to the Belmont...

23 May 2011 6:45 PM
Stellar Jayne

Steve,

Terrific article about Shackleford's human connections and him!  He ran a wonderful gutsy race.  I liked how he led all the way in the Derby, but just couldn't get up in the closing yards.  It was amazing to see how he was in such a sweat and have the energy to pull off the win.  Truly amazing.  He seems to have a pedigree that would take him 1.5 miles in the Belmont - Forestry, Storm Cat, Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Ribot, Roberto, etc.  What do you think?  I feel for Animal Kingdom - too far back and too much dirt in his face for a newbie to dirt racing.  But, thank God they all came home sound with only scratches, except for one who had a bruise on his foot.

Romans and Motion are good trainers and men.  I'm looking forward to Shackleford and AK in the Belmont and later at Saratoga.

23 May 2011 6:57 PM
Stellar Jayne

Steve - Sorry for a second blog comment - any word as to how Uncle Mo is and what his ailments are?

23 May 2011 7:01 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Don't we just love Steve's Triple Crown stories?  I was waiting patiently like a good little Haskinite all weekend for this one to come out!  Well, I'm not that happy about the race outcome.  Animal Kingdom ran huge, really huge.  He proved he's the real deal.  This was the battle of the chestnuts.  Shackleford's prerace antics were actually comical, kicking and bucking and taking off like a bull out of a chute.  I figured he was either raring to go with too much energy or bothered by the crowd and heat, seems like it was the first thing.  To lose by such a small margin for Amimal Kingdom was heartbreaking, 1/2 length away from an attempt at a Triple Crown.  Animal Kingdom's run was very reminiscent of Zenyatta/Blame all over again.  He, as did Zenyatta in the BC, broke slower and had the dirt kicked on them, then settled and made their long runs, weaving and inhaling horses.  Both got to the winner but not in time.  Very similar scenarios.  Animal Kingdom was very calm and collected and was very professional in the post parade I noticed.  Congrats to Shack, who at times looks like a powerhouse quarterhorse, but I would have been much happier with a win by Animal Kingdom.  At least they gave us a thriller and all came home safely.  So close yet so far.

On to Belmont, I hope they both are in it for a rematch and I can see them both for real!!!!!!

23 May 2011 7:18 PM
Householder

Speed over a distance of ground is always hard to beat.  We've seen this in 2009 with Rachel Alexandra, 25 years ago with Winning Colors, and close to 30 years ago with Lady's Secret. "Come and catch me if you can."

Shackleford, he certainly has speed + stamina which is a hard combination to come by these days.  Nice legitimate colt.  I just thought he looked awful washy and behaved very poorly in he paddock.  But, then again I did not think it was possible to work any poorer in the morning than Nehro did prior to his Derby hit.  This may just be the year that handicapping 101 goes out the window.  

23 May 2011 7:51 PM
Alex'sBigFan

The colts after the Preakness:

Animal Kingdom to Shackleford:

"You couldn't just go and attach yourself to the Budweiser wagon and be in the Clydesdale show and not enter the race?"

Shackleford to AK:  "Sorry, man, that was too many two-leggers in one place I had to bolt!!!"

Dialed In to Shack:  "Bolt, yeah that's a good name for you alright, Usane Bolt, yah mon!"

Shack to MMM:  "Hey, Muchos Zapatos, what is your problem?  June foals, hombre, can't keep their shoes on in a race!"

MMM to Shack:  "At least I'm not bucking like a rodeo bull on national tv in a pre-race freakout!"

Norman Asbjornson to AK:  "Vhat do ja think if Svackleford runs vhen we get to New Jork?"

AK to Norman A:  "I think I get the win in New York because we stretch out a longer distance.  I'll hopefully see you all in Mo's Town guys."

23 May 2011 8:14 PM
serena

Fabulous article!!  As usual! I learn so much from columns like this and always appreciate the back stories.  A great story all around.  I liked Shackleford from the FL Derby and felt bad that he got nipped in the final jump.  I thought he make a statement in the KY Derby and he did.  Loved AK's win and thought he has what it takes to go all the way.  I happened to be in a pool where I had Shackleford, Astrology, Dialed In & Isn't He Perfect in a winner take all prize so any one of their wins benefitted me!  While my heart was with AK and a possible T.C., when I saw that pretty white blazed face barreling down the stretch, I got excited and was thrilled with the outcome.  AK tried so hard but Shack wouldn't be denied.  Ya gotta love that heart!  I really hope we see both colts in the Belmont as they not only look like they'd relish it, but it would be a great rivalry and great for racing.    Who wouldn't love to see two chestnuts go toe to toe in that long Belmont stretch.....haven't seen that in way too many years.......  Sorry about Paddy.....liked him a lot last year and looked forward to his return. Hopefully he'll mend quickly and enjoy his next career.

23 May 2011 8:31 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, a wonderful, wonderful piece. I enjoyed this so much. Shackleford was one gutsy boy and so was Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom was no fluke Derby winner, but a very good horse. Shackleford wasn't letting anyone by him though. He is a pistol, no doubt about it. I think Animal Kingdom might have beat him at a longer distance. A re-match in the Belmont would be nice.

23 May 2011 8:35 PM
Danette

Shack definitely deserved this win. He's been a fighter all along and he finally grabbed the gold ring. I'm sorry AK didn't win - who doesn't want to see a potential TC winner, but I was happy Shackleford got his due.  Great to see Romans get some much deserved respect too. He just cracks me up.  I first remember really 'meeting' him from the movie First Saturday in May and now always look forward to his humorous comebacks. Another outstanding piece Steve.

23 May 2011 8:37 PM
JamesRockford

Great article Shaskin's. Good for Romans and Shacklefor. I dont usually like front runners but I LOVE this gritty, tough little SOB. As usual the Preakness plays out very similar to the Derby. Look where Shack and AK were after 1 3/16 at CD. RIGHT, about the same distance apart and leading the pack along with Nehru. There's your Belmont trifecta if all three go. Dialed In is just a SLOW horse.

23 May 2011 8:45 PM
Linda in Texas

Humility shows in every sentence

you wrote, Steve. Humility by the owners, by the trainers, by everyone, even the good losers.

This would be a delightful story if made up and written in a book. But it is even more wonderful  because it is 'for real.'

I am glad for Mr. Romans, his brother, his partner Tammy, the children and the love and respect that Dale and his brother have for their father who died way too young.

Mr. Lauffer and Mr. Cubbedge sound like they would be fun to be around. I hope they enjoy the ride Shackleford is taking them on.

Shackleford was so full of himself before the race, that he was bucking like a bronco, acting up and lathering up that a couple of announcers mentioned 'that was not good for him to be expending energy that way,' but i would like to believe that The Racing Gods were whispering to Shack and he was just agreeing, Yep, this would be his time to shine. And he did.

Check out his shoulder muscle mass in the photo of him winning The Preakness, he is dang healthy in that department and i guess it is because he needs it to pull his big frame down that track.

On a sad note, i am heartbroken learning that my favorite Paddy

O'Prado won The Dixie Stakes with a sesamoid issue. And is being retired. Was looking forward to watching him race this year. So now i will keep up with Awesome Maria who won her race and hope that Monarchos continues to heal from his Colitis operation. And i need to check on Band Box. And i won't forget Flashpoint.

Hope you had a great time Steve and family and thank you so much for this informative article.  

23 May 2011 9:12 PM
IOWay

Great job of relating the Romans family history as well as the comraderie between the trainers, who in most instances have great respect for one another.  It is a very tough game with more lows than highs and horsemen need to stick together.  AK came awfully close to keeping everyone jacked up for the next three weeks that might have led to a TC winner if he could have just gotten there.  With regard to why many owners with a very valuable stallion elect to retire the horse at the end of its 3 yo year, you need only look to Paddy O'Prado to understand why they do so.  His connections undoubtedly had him insured and could afford to take the chance of enjoying another campaign since that opportunity hasn't happened to a group if Iowans before, but most owners don't have that luxury. Remember how Coolmore tried to bring Dunkirk back from his Belmont injury a year ago and didn't retire him until discovering the leg had not healed enough for him to come back for his 4 yo campaign, which probably decreased the quality of his initial book of mares since they didn't really have a chance to advertise him until many mating decisions had already been made.  Luckily Paddy did not end up like George Washington who had to be destroyed after he proved to be infertile and was then brought out of retirement and broke down in the mud at Monmouth in the BC Classic. I am sure that you learn that when the money is laying there you need to pick it up.  It is the same reason that many people who are trying to pay the bills will sell out of a promising horse even though they may have waited all of their lives to get one that is "live" on Derby day.  Congratulations to all of those luck enough to be able to participate in the triple crown festivities.  By the way, Sway Away ran just like I predicted.

23 May 2011 9:14 PM
ofelia

Could'nt happen to a nicer guy

23 May 2011 9:27 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Beautiful horse, beautiful story.  

23 May 2011 9:42 PM
Mister Frisky

Good as ever Steve congrats to Shack.As the triple crown is approaching the quarter pole I'm really gonna miss the buzz over the 3 year old crop.Your articles have turned winter into to summer seemingly overnight.With that said,thank God that Dialed In is getting a rest.Never seen a more over hyped horse get two easy trips in back to back classics and fail to deliver.He simply is a grinder with one mild gear that passes tired horses down the lane terrible job by Zito ,looking back how did that stiff ever run down Shack,thanks again.

23 May 2011 10:01 PM
Agnes

That was a great article about the Preakness.  I can't wait to find out your thoughts on the Belmont.  What an interesting race that should be!  Maybe Dialed In will come into his own??  Less than 3 weeks to go.

23 May 2011 10:08 PM
bigred

congrats to shack for digging in so gamely , but let's face it, the final time was dawdling and this group of 3 yr. olds are average at best. For the track announcer to exclaim the pace was "blistering" was sheer hyperbole. Just look at the 6 furlong splits for the last 6 preakness stakes. Lookin at lucky- 1:11 3/5 rachel 1:11 flat, Gayego and Big brown 1:10 2/5 Hard Spun 1:09 3/5 {with Curlin winning in 1:53.3} With all due respect to the 2011 winner, running on the accelerator in 2 grueling back to back races , I just haven't seen anything exciting in this 3 yr. old crop. Looking at a 2:28 or higher Belmont for sure.

23 May 2011 10:28 PM
Your Only Friend

Sports writers predictions are about as reliable as your local weatherman....if we missed  that many times we would be out of work and starving.....ie" Uncle Mo ...never ran but one race in '11 and had the Derby won before it was run.....or Dial In.....gives  a break....

23 May 2011 10:29 PM
smarie

Congrats to Shackleford and his connections. He fought hard and it paid off. However, I am concerned that the Belmont distance may be too much for this colt. He was tiring rapidly at the end of the Preakness and he didn't seem to do well with the Derby mile and a quarter. I hope his connections do what is best for the horse. Too many times, horses run in the Belmont and are never heard from again on the racetrack. If they want to enjoy this horse, I think they should skip the Belmont, rest him up and then race him later in the summer and in the fall. I hope the lure of fame in the Belmont doesn't cause them to make a decision that they will later regret. I don't think Shackleford is a mile and a half horse and I'd hate to see him get hurt or run himself into the ground.

23 May 2011 11:16 PM
IJMOToday

I liked Shackleford on looks alone before the Preakness, what a handsome horse.

I have a question: re the $550,000 consolation bonus he got for finishing second in the Florida Derby and winning the Preakness, will that be included in his lifetime earnings?

24 May 2011 12:37 AM
Heather Seiden

LOL... I guess I too am a "Haskinite." Great article...Dale Romans deserved this so very much. Classy guy, and classy horse.  I look forward to an AK/Shack rematch!  Thanks, as always, Steve.

24 May 2011 3:00 AM
dr.eyego

Breed the best to the best and hope for the

best -- WE LOVE SHACKLEFORD!!!

24 May 2011 5:53 AM
breeze10

Great article, Steve!  I had my eyes, and MONEY, on Shackleford since DAY 1!!!  Now, I guess he's earned the credit he's deserved all-along!  We were at Pimlico to see him win (gave the grandchildren- more Shack-fans- a huge thrill!)...last time we were there was when Curlin won(hmmm!..) Just like Curlin...my money will stay on this gutsy, big-hearted boy!  I say..Congratulations to all his connections..but, especially to him!

24 May 2011 6:27 AM
TerriZ

What an awesome article about Shackleford and his connections.

Stories like these are what I truly love about horse racing.

It seems like he inherited the toughness and saltiness of his paternal grandmother, Terlingua (Secretariat's daughter).

It would be great if we see a great rivalry on the track in races to come like the ones we have seen in years past.

Oh how exciting it has been to have two terrific trainers and kind gentlemen as Dale Romans and Graham Motion win the two legs of the triple crown.

It certainly has been a fascinating triple crown race. And thank you again for your wonderfully written and informative articles about all the participants.

24 May 2011 7:22 AM
Fran Loszynski

Shackleford deserved to win, out front in the Derby, out front in the Preakness, Unbridled in his lineage, a horse is a horse of course and his name is Shackleford. I feel bad for Sway Away, no excuse but he was lathered so badly, good for G. Gomez he saw this and didn't push him. Thank you Garrett, that's why you are so great. To Mr. Bonde Sway Away has alot of heart and Garrett Gomez may have saved him to race another day, I know I'm not a trainer but the heat and excitement were too much for Sway Away. Shackleford and Nehro boxed for the Belmont.

24 May 2011 7:48 AM
Lindsey S

What a great story, as always! It's funny, because my exact words to my husband after the first quarter were "They're cooking each other up front". I've been a fan of Dale Romans ever since I watched "The First Saturday in May".  You got a good taste of his personality!  Although I'm disappointed there won't be a chance at the Triple Crown, how can you not root for a guy like that?  I must say I'm greatly saddened by the retirement of his other stable star, Paddy O'Prado.  I'd followed him closely ever since he broke his maiden, and he was far and away my favorite horse in training.  He was going to have a BIG year, and I think it's a huge loss for the already suspect handicap division, turf or dirt!  Hopefully I can visit him in retirement soon!

24 May 2011 7:51 AM
ToTheWireFirst

A few of you are being way too hard on Dialed In. A stiff? Slow? That’s pretty incompetent considering how he came home in both races.  I’m sure if given a bit better positioning through the far turn he’ll prove you both wrong over the Saratoga meet.

Congratulations to Shackleford et al, and here’s to an exciting Belmont to keep the average viewers interested in our sport and on the hook leading into NBC’s “Summer at Saratoga” coverage.  We should all be thankful to NBC’s commitment to broadcasting more racing on a national stage.  Now lets hope it’s a big success that leads to more coverage in the future.

Excellent article Steve, as always.

TTWF

24 May 2011 8:14 AM
tbpartner43

@smarie..... I had the same thoughts about Shackleford getting a mile and a half until I looked at his pedigree.  Check him out on Pedigreequery and rethink your position.  His dosage points are phenominal, as are Astrologies.  

24 May 2011 9:00 AM
GoldenBroom

Congratulations to a beautiful horse and the hard working team that got him to the winners circle. I do think they are insane to run him in the Belmont though. He seems like a mile, mile and an eigth most comfortable, 3/8ths they got lucky. No one will sit so far off again the rest of the year and the 3 yr olds will learn to take dirt in their face and the older horses will be wise enough that they won't get the perfect scenario again. Still, good strategy and a good horse notched the win. I think MMM's team better let up on him. They are ruining him fast...heard the announcer say he looked too lean/thin. If the horse is still trying to grow and they keep pushing him in races they aren't going to have anything left for later in the year. I hope Mo makes it back later in the year and we get to see him and some of these others run through their 4 yr old year...

24 May 2011 9:04 AM
Slew

Thank you, Steve, for the magic you bring to every story....the hugs, the tears, the heart, and soul of everyone connected with the TB's.

A side note to Shackleford...Congratulations and darn it!  I wanted a Triple Crown!  Foiled again!

I was amazed by his Derby run, and perhaps we should have been more aware of his potential at the shorter distanced Preakness.  All of those pre-race antics, that the announcers felt detrimental to his chances, simply reminded me of Mr. Nasty himself...Slew before the '77 Derby...so full of himself, and sooo dominant.  But I felt so terrible for Animal Kingdom, whose brilliant run was no less spectacular than Shack himself.  

And I feel terrible for Mr. Romans whose high and low came in the same day.  Paddy O'Prado was probably the best turf horse in the USA, and his competition will be missed. We can hope only that as a sire, he will equal his sire's contributions.

And my condolences to the victims of another lethal tornado...once again, with little respite in the future.  

It would appear that Mother Nature's wrath is unequaled after having been turned down by the producers of "Girls Gone Wild" as being too old?  I guess she showed them! "Hell hath no fury..."  (And I don't mean to be disrespectful to those who have suffered.  I've been caught up in tornadoes, and I still don't know how to cope with them.  But the tragedy is so immense that no words are adequate, and I'd rather make someone smile than add to the misery.)

24 May 2011 9:43 AM
GetStormy

I have been crushing on Shackleford since the Florida Derby.  Dialed Who?  It was that blaze faced chestnut that made my heart beat faster.  He cracked me up before the Preakness, bucking almost in place while still being respectful of his handler-no meanness in him, just declaring that he was The Man.

I hope his human connections can keep him sound, happy and allow him to shine at what he does best. I think he will just keep getting better, if they don't get greedy and take him out of his game.(i.e., a mile and a half in the Belmont.) Shackleford is a stunning, exciting horse with star quality.  I think he will be a monster four year old-and can you imagine what kind of sire he will be?  Just keep him sweet, people.  His future is in your hands.

24 May 2011 9:47 AM
TerriV

What a great piece of writing, Steve.  You not only hit the nail on the head, you pounded it in.  Shackleford has been in my top three all season and like someone mentioned above, I have admired Dale Romans since First Saturday in May.  I love his laid back attitude.  He is so deserving.  In fact, everyone involved here is rolling in class.  Animal Kingdom ran a great race but the grit and determination Shackleford showed was just magnificent.  I was thrilled that Paddy O'Prado won for Romans also.  And so sorry to hear of his injury.  He was a favorite from last year.  We got to see him up close and personal at Sunrise at Old Hilltop.

This year at Sunrise on Friday, we also saw Shackleford and were very impressed.  So congratulations to the Romans team, job very well done.  And I can't wait for the rest of this season.  This group should provide so fun racing.

On another note, I have to say how pleased I am with the coverage by NBC so far.  I was just blown away on Sat. that they seemed to have actually listened to what I have been saying.  The story about the Woodlawn Vase and the old racing footage, the wonderful info about pedigrees and showing races, jockeys and horses from the past - I was thrilled and impressed and just loved it all.  I hope they keep it up because I truly believe more information about the horses and references to the famous names of the past will resonate with new viewers.  

24 May 2011 9:49 AM
GetStormy

I agree with Golden Broom, Mucho Macho Man looks like a colt who is being asked for too much.  He was weedy looking before the Preakness and looked tired in his eyes.  He is a magnificent baby who has earned some time off.

24 May 2011 9:54 AM
Bigtex

I wasn't sure Shackleford would perform the way he did in the Derby & Preakness but was hopeful because of the way he showed grit in the Florida Derby.  Animal Kingdom is a very nice horse.  I noticed his sire had a nice filly win over the weekend and his fee's about to go up.

The fall will be great if Premier Peg, Jaycito, and Uncle Mo are healthy and in the mix!  

24 May 2011 10:14 AM
robinm

I love this article!  I usually  only want to hear about the horses but I really enjoyed the stories about Shackelfords's connections.

I've gotta say this Shack is one tough customer but I also agree with the blogger who pointed out that except for the opening quarter, the splits weren't that fast.  This was a very smart ride.  Unlike some others, I'm not disappointed we're not looking at a potential Triple Crown.  I know it would be good for racing, but if there is ever to be another TC Champ, I hope it will be captured by a really great horse, not by a horse who happens to be the best of a relatively weak crop.  The times for the preps and of the Derby and Preakness tend to tell us this isn't a really fast group of 3-yr olds.  Saying that, the Belmont should be entertaining if nothing else.

24 May 2011 10:34 AM
deb

what a beautiful chestnut horse Shackleford is! Loved his bucking and carrying on.  Almost like he was saying "lets get this show on the road..NOW!!" I hope he is the winner in the Belmont too.  Animal Kingdom is another beauty, in fact, they all are but that chestnut reminded me of another big boy back in the '70s.

Great family to train and love him.

Good luck in New York.  Let 'er buck!!

24 May 2011 10:41 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Fellow Haskinites of the Rah-Crown Lodge

   We are gathered here today on Shackleford Island to pay homage to the gamest 3yo on the planet. Linda in Texas-All Shack was saying when he was bucking was, "Ride em cowboy, yeeha, get along lil' dogies."  Many experts said he had no chance long before the race, and the most of the rest said he had no chance after seeing him sweaty and acting "nervous" just prior to the race. When you're as game as Shackleford is little things like that don't matter and to him all he was doing was putting his gameface on and getting ready to get the show on the road.

Paula Higgins

  Mine That Bird was first in The Derby, second in The Preakness, third more in The Belmont and was still called a fluke by some. I guess they didn't get an egg in their beer.

24 May 2011 10:41 AM
PomDeTerre

Congrats to Shack, AK and Astrology - and all connections-for a good, competitive race.  I'd placed my bets that morning with OTB after scratches were out.  Watching the pre-race & how washy Shack appeared to be, I almost called to change my exotics.  Then I reminded myself of his Fla Derby and of course the KD.  I'm glad I didn't make that phone call.

Sorry about Paddy- I was really looking for a great 2011 turf campaign from him.  Glad he is, at least, not in danger.

Excellent article.

24 May 2011 10:42 AM
carolchristine

Steve! Thank you for telling us the Shackleford story in your incomparable style  - complete,  descriptive and emotional. No body does it better.

24 May 2011 10:54 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

deb

   We said the same thing at the same time 10:41am!! Latest word from Shackleford today, "What's this about The Belmont? Where is it? Come on, let's fet going, let's get that Belmont show on the road !!!!!!

24 May 2011 11:00 AM
slee

What a race.  Thanks Steve!

It's been a long, long time since I found a Classic winner finishing 2nd in the Florida Derby, but when I watched Shackleford pin back his ears when Dialed In came to him in the stretch and then the 2 of them proceeded to put many lengths between them and the pack, even though Shackleford finished 2nd, to me, he didn't lose the race.

While I still think a mile or a mile and 1/8th might be his best distance, I liked his chances at Pimlico, and, sure enough, there was that big white blaze, hanging on for dear life, ears pinned back, leads changing, saying to AK "no sirree, Derby winner or no Derby winner, not today, son, not today, this one is MINE".

Like Romans said, let's hope they both stay healthy, let's go on to Belmont, and maybe the Haskell, and maybe the Travers, and maybe on into the fall and even next year.  They're both beautiful young horses with a lot of talent, and when MMM can keep his shoes on for a whole race, and when Dialed In gets back into smaller fields, I expect they'll be on top some days.  The rivalries help make the sport great.

And I'll second what was said earlier about NBC's coverage.  It was MUCH better than last year's.  Keep spreading the stories around, don't focus too much on 1 person or 1 horse, use some of the time to educate the novice fan.  Thanks!

24 May 2011 11:25 AM
Love 'em all

Love the title, as usual, for a really great story. Shackleford's 'rapid dominance' and 'overwhelming power' prevailed in time of need ... he's just awesome.  Love that fella!

Yes, disappointed AK didn't hit the wire first, but, since it was "Shack" (my third choice) that beat him, the disappointment didn't last long.  It was an absolutely thrilling race ... congrats to all.  So very proud of him ... and so very happy for all his good folks.  

Cheers to Shackleford, Animal Kingdom and Astrology for a thrilling Preakness!

24 May 2011 11:26 AM
Don from PA/DE

Thanks Steve as is often the case there is more to the already amazing story....I will add that due to a case of mistaken (sire) identity, I was wtih the guy since his 2nd race at CD and maiden victory at huge odds, he won going away...I had assumed he was the son of "Sir Shackleton" who I loved and at the time was being considered for "maiden watch" candidate, who I voted for..so since then I realized his real family line, but stuck with him and he has surpassed my wildest expectations, but great they have been for me $$$.....the real Alfred Hitchcock ending is that I am a 34 yr professional librarian, who overlooked the print/data/real information, but wow, how often are great discoveries unfolded due to harmless error (to me ego, no) Don

24 May 2011 11:39 AM
MikeM

Great article,great race. Shack was one of the horses I bet in the KD but like so many others I thought he had no shot to win the Preakness. I love how Gary Stephens and the rest ccommented that based on his pre-race appearance they thought Shack would not show up. Shouldn't one of the commentators have known that this behavior was normal?

24 May 2011 11:43 AM
Johnny

Schack the biggest colt at this years Gulfstream meet.

He got my $ for the FL Derby.

Got my $ for the Ky Derby.

Gotmy $ for the Prakness..

Unfourtunatly I got greeedy and only play tris and did not hit..

My buddy hit the super 4 xtimes.

I wish nothing but the best of health to these horses and maybe we can find someone else to root for since Z has been gone.

Congrats to team Schack  

24 May 2011 12:15 PM
MyBigRed

Congratulations to Shackelford & his connections!! It is Amazing how many horses come from the Florida Derby @ Gulfstream & do well in the Triple Crown races. Hopefully someday, Thoroughbred racing will return to Hialeah. WinStar has a video of Uncle Mo on their StableMates website. Uncle Mo looks so happy, grazing in his paddock.

24 May 2011 12:50 PM
Draynay

Nehro should have been there.  Nehro would have won.  Nehro will win the Belmont.

24 May 2011 2:15 PM
slee

Hi again -

The Racing Post says this afternoon that Aidan O'Brien has Master of Hounds on track to come back from Ireland for the Belmont.  

THAT is great news - his acrobatic closing at the Derby was wonderful and I don't believe we've seen the best this colt yet!

24 May 2011 2:39 PM
Slew

I've been convinced for quite a while that Nehro would take the Belmont, but now that Dray has cursed him....not a chance.  

24 May 2011 3:11 PM
KY VET

LOOK FOR SHACKLEFORD TO GO OFF FORM...NOT ONLY DID HE CHANGE BACK TO WRONG LEAD IN THE STRETCH, HE SHOWS BAD SIGNS IN THE POST PARADE..HE RAN A GOOD RACE IN PREAKNESS,AND OWNERS ARE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE RUNNING HIM IN THE BELMONT. THIS LEMON HAS BEEN SQUEEZED!!  INJURY FOUND SOON.....

24 May 2011 3:43 PM
Apapane

Thank you, Steve for your wonderful writing.

My fantasy article is one written by yourself about a horse named Haskinite.

If I were in the game, I would look to purchase a filly, with David Ingordo, looking for a lot of Secretariat and maybe out of Zenyatta or one of her near relatives. Haskinite would be sent to Graham Motion's barn for training and would race healthy and well, well into her 7th year. So ends my fantasy for today.

I would like to ask a question of the bloggers who contend that this is a mediocre crop of 3-year-olds. Is the crop weak or are some mistakes in training being made with the top talent with some poor luck thrown in?

This may be the year that the connections shine. Seems that way so far. Am looking forward to seeing Animal Kingdom and Shackleford face each other again in a  smaller field. Sometimes the traffic confuses the issue.

24 May 2011 5:37 PM
Linda in Texas

DRAYNAY, i waited for someone else to open the Nehro can of worms. i didn't want to be a spoil sport.

But honestly, how many times do you have to be wrong to get the hint that you have no following nor credibility or are you ever correct in your spillage of non- important information? Do you honestly think anyone will side with you except for maybe KY VET?

Now i wonder if you are KY VET in disguise.  

And KY VET, who gives a flying frikken flip whether Shackleford was standing on his ears when he crossed the wire. HE WON. Get over it. You are the lemon that has been squeezed and frankly, one time too many for me. I have read the last post of yours. You and Draynay are the clowns of non essential information. And i am trying to be nice here. I loved all the bad signs Shackleford showed in the post parade. Yeee ha, he won.

I know even commenting on the posts of DRAYNAY and KY VET just antagonizes them to continue. But a year of reading Draynay has finally taken its toll. And now his nemesis KY VET has tried to equal and out do Draynay.

I am not signing my usual post name. I am signing my post as Howdy Doody. That is more your speed and just about as relevant. But now i have lowered my standards to yours. Do you see how ridiculous you come across?    

24 May 2011 5:48 PM
Delrene

Thank you for all the "inside scoop" on the Preakness winner and his trainer/owners/family/jockey etc.  It is a great story and you tell it like no one else can do.  He is a gorgeous horse and a face to die for.  When he came in 4th in the Derby I felt badly because he was right up there until the end and he ran his heart out.  If he is healthy and ready to run again  and they decide to run in the Belmont, I'll definitely be cheering him on.

I'm sorry about Paddy but he will make a great Daddy ( no pun intended)

24 May 2011 5:53 PM
Dave R.

Very nice article.  

Noticed all during the race that Paddy O'Prado had his head cocked to the right - suspected a problem.

Amazing that he still was able to win.

Hats off to Shackleford - he is a stayer with speed and tenacity, a potent combination.  Won the TRI with him at Pimlico and almost won it in the Derby if he had held 2nd.

Hats off also to Animal Kingdom.  He may have won had he not had to idle for 5 seconds behind a few horses moving into his path on the final turn after he was set down the first time and really took off. He had to be restarted after that and lost a bit of momentum.  I was a bit surprised that he dropped so far back. I think he has more speed than he showed early and could have been in the pack as he has been in most of his races.  

Hope both horses stay healthy and keep improving.

Too many horses in the Triple Crown races is why no TC winner these days.  I remember Riva Ridge and Secretariat triple crown races.  Many fewer horses to beat and fewer traffic problems.  Maybe a few changes are needed?

24 May 2011 6:10 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  Excellent comments, haven't had a chance to discuss the Derby with you. You mentioned in an earlier blog about me predicting Uncle Mo would win the Triple Crown. You are correct, I did say that and still believe he is the best 3 year old in the land. I wasn't right, but in a way I wasn't wrong either as Uncle Mo isn't running in any Triple Crown races. I also said more then once that I felt the west coast runners would do poorly in the Derby and Preakness due to the dramatic change in racing surfaces. So I correct about that.

I so wanted to see Animal Kingdom to win the Preakness and get a shot at the Triple Crown. I felt Johnny V did a very poor job of riding him. Had him way too far back and didn't realize that the stretch at Pimlico is much shorter then at Churchill Downs. I think if Gomez rides him, he wins. I would put Albarado back on him.

Excellent article Steve as always and great feedback by all.......

24 May 2011 6:44 PM
Freetex

Like many on this blog stated I would have liked Animal Kingdom for the win in The Preakness.  However, who could possibly fault the courage, heart, and tenacity of Shackleford.  I was sure he was washed out in the gate and then bam he shoots out like a rocket to take the lead.  

I also agree MMM looks like he needs some time off.  Why push him so hard at this stage of the game?  He is a very talented horse who needs R & R.

My congrats to Linda in Texas for her post.  You laid it right on the line.  Thanks.

24 May 2011 7:35 PM
Old Timer

Nice story, Steve. You always exude class, but this year have also had some great picks, so far.  First you and George Costanza gave us the Derby exacta at $300 + and now you gave us the Preakness exacta as well. I am looking forward to hearing your words of wisdom on the Belmont. My early pick is Alternation. He was quite tenacious in the Peter Pan and that Jerome is looking like a very key race with Astrology giving a good account of himself and Adios Charlie also.

Interesting that you can't always go by breeding. Shackelford being by Forestry who would think he'd get 1 3/16 miles? But his dam side is quite impressive. On to Belmont!

24 May 2011 9:39 PM
Mister Frisky

Agree that Johnny V didn't give AK the best chance to win.He should have broke sharper and put that horse in the race.Besides Shack there was a lot of cheap speed up front that didn't last a mile.Af the end of the day I think AK ends up on turf where he should be.PS worst bunch of west coast yr olds ever.MI,Mr Comm,and Sway Away come on California.

24 May 2011 9:39 PM
CharlieCigar

PEOPLE!!! LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY THAT SHACKLEFORD NEEDS TO BE IN THE STARTING LINE UP FOR THE BELMONT!!  MARK MY WORDS HE WILL GIVE THE FIELD THE SLIP GOING INTO THE FAR TURN LIKE BET TWICE AND BE LONG GONE WHEN THEY TURN FOR HOME.  I WILL STAKE MY REPUTATION AS A PRO ON THIS ONE!!!!  CANT WAIT TO HEAR THE HYPE ABOUT HOW GOOD DIALED IN IS THE REST OF THE YEAR LEADING UP TO THE SUMMER CLASSICS AND THEN THE BREEDERS CUP!!!  THIS HORSE COULD TRULY BE SOMETHING SPECIAL!!! AHH OKAY NICK TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK!!

24 May 2011 9:53 PM
Racingfan

Nice article Steve!  I always look forward to reading what you write.  The behind the scenes info makes those of us who can't be there be able to get a feel for things.  Your writing takes us there and you manage to do it without negativity and without knocking anyone - unlike a fellow blog writer who shall remain nameless. Reading the comments is also nice as the posters on your blog are much more pleasant - not constantly bickering and putting others down.  It is refreshing!!!!  I was pleasantly surprised at how tough Shackleford was in the Preakness - he really wanted it!  Too bad for Animal Kingdom and Dialed In being so far back and trying to catch up.  Again it goes to show how difficult it is for a horse to close like that and win, especially without a fast pace throughout! Only a superstar like Zenyatta is going to be able to make it happen all the time. I am thinking the Belmont would be good for Dialed In's late run and not so good for Shackleford who faded near the end of the Derby. Any thoughts?

24 May 2011 10:05 PM
Paula Higgins

Not by me, good Dr Drunkinbum! I was a Mine That Bird fan all the way. I never thought he was a fluke. I don't believe in the concept of a "fluke" anyway. There is no such thing. If you beat the best horses the country has to offer during one of the Triple Crown races, it means you were the best horse that day. A fluke means that they won by sheer luck or happenstance. I don't buy that. The word "fluke" is not in my lexicon LOL.

24 May 2011 10:06 PM
Bill in Atlanta

Linda in Texas.....way to go girl!  You wrote what I have been thinking for weeks!  

24 May 2011 10:28 PM
calico cat

Playfriskyforme,

Maybe you haven't heard but the top California prospects were injured.I think Mr. Commons will do much better on turf. The other 2 have  some growing up to do or maybe they're not that good but I don't think you've heard the last from the West Coast this year. I'm sure all horses from other parts of the country ran tremendous races in the Derby and the Preakness. Right? Ha!

Linda from Texas,

I didn't think you had it in you because you're always so pleasant. Well said!!!

Mr. Haskin,

In spite of my disappointment re: AK not winning the Preakness, I couldn't help but admire the courage and determination of Shackelford and your article made me appreciate him and his connections even more. Shackelford earned this victory. He fought hard in most of his races and finally prevailed. If someone was to defeat AK in the Preakness, I'm glad it was a horse who also competed in the Derby and not some "fresh horse" who had skipped the first and toughest test. Plus, it's hard to resist a gorgeous, fast and determined chestnut with the heart to match his great big blaze. :)

P.S. Shack Attack indeed!

24 May 2011 11:19 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

   I do remember you saying that about west coast runners and you were correct but Premier Pegasus might have an impact. You based your Triple Crown prediction on talent, not circumstances so with him not having the chance to run you were neither right nor wrong. Maybe in the parallel world Mo was healthy and a few weeks from pulling it off. You have to be closer in The Preakness. I did not like the ride either. A gallant effort but no cigar, but this wasn't for a Swisher Sweet this was a Triple Crown. It looked like it could be the year. Shackleford has been underestimated for awhile and continues to be underestimated. He is a warrior. I love Shackleford and the way he won but not having a run at a TC in The Belmont with a horse as talented as AK is disappointing. I think with a less tiring surface at CD that day, or if it was slop we could be looking at a run for the TC with Shackleford. It's going to be real interesting to see how he comes out of The Preakness. This is an extremely well conditioned animal so you never know. I for one would love to a see a son of Forestry win The Belmont but there are a few other Belmont possibles I like better at this point.

25 May 2011 12:15 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks everyone for your comments.

25 May 2011 2:17 AM
Slew

Linda in Texas...You go, Girl!  Amen to your thoughts spanking the useless and trivial.

Apapane...I happen to think we have a very good 3 year old crop, which is why it's been so difficult to choose a front runner.  The constant injury reports speak more to the training than the colts themselves.  (Why was QR run in the BC Classic when he's such a brilliant miler?  Wasn't the trainer aware?)  

It seems KY Vet may have changed his name to Charlie Cigar...either way...it's all horse doo-doo to me.

NBC showed the '09 Preakness...did anyone else notice the stride on the little MTB was longer than the stride on RA.  He was great for the TC run, but his surgery just may have been his undoing.  He simply was not the same horse after the WV race.

25 May 2011 8:13 AM
Mister Frisky

Good Morning Zookeeper you just made my point .Maybe Premier Pegasus and Jaycito weren't that good after all considering the poor showing of horses that finished behind them out west might as well throw in The Factor too.Have a great day.

25 May 2011 8:51 AM
JayGo

Hi.  Love reading Steve and the comments that follow.  Looking forward to the Belmont (I live in the New York area and will be there)but I don't think anybody else gives a hoot.  The general public is finished with the Triple Crown, and even the horse set seems underwhelmed with the racing. To us regulars, the Derby and Preakness has been a continuation of racing trends in general - - - short fields, short prices OR long fields, long prices with very little in between - - - and forget about the "sport." This is a precription for circling the drain.  Yes, some tracks get it right but most are nothing but gambling vehicles pining for slots. How do we get this back on track? Do we need a national governing body to regulate racing? Been with this sport for over 30 years, love it, but do really believe there are too many races diluting cards and purses to feed the TV/Internet/Simulcast monster. The Preakness has become just another stakes race.  Help!!!!

Oh, by the way, love Shack but don't think he'll get the mile and a half in NY. Love Animal Kingdom but don't think lightly raced non-dirt horse can go three times in seven weeks and win at Big Sandy. Maybe Nehro, let's see who else is entered. Yipes, better horses may point to Haskell . . .

25 May 2011 9:56 AM
PomDeTerre

To KY VET:  Guess you feel the "lemon has been squeezed" since you didn't have your "professional gambler" money on Shack.  Stop being a sourpuss.

25 May 2011 10:53 AM
Linda in Texas

i am glad so many of you agree with my thoughts. i can take a lot of 'stuff' from folks, but day in and day out negativity just does not set well with me for the following reason/reasons.

i failed to mention the most important reason i wrote what i did. i feel the owners, the trainers,the riders, the hot walkers, the grooms, the stable folks, the muckers and everyone who works so hard and diligently caring for these maestros of the racing world are being dissed and forgotten. Getting these giants to any racetrack takes time, effort and huge expenditures. They all deserve our respect and to disrespect one horse over another is simply deplorable and uncalled for because when you do you are taking everyone that is caring for that horse down with your comment and ultimately the sport itself.

Around every corner is a new star waiting to be polished and shined into a magnificent running machine.

Too much space is given to some horses at the total exclusion of others who miss out on their own limelight and that is the shame of touting 1 single horse for 6 months thus forgetting all of the others.

Look to the claiming races, there are some wonderful 'could be winner' horses running there. And look to the west coast and other tracks as you never know where a talented horse might appear.

I watched Caracortado running and winning on a smaller track a couple of times and thought to myself, there's a winner. And now he is well known. You just never know so always keep an open mind.

Sorry to get on a soap box once in a while, but it is not in my fiber to keep quiet about things that are important to me.

25 May 2011 11:12 AM
Zen's Auntie

Nice job again Steve, thanks for being the magnificent writer you are.

Linda in TX - well put - at one time or another driven by the surging irritation (like gnats at sunset) we have all fallen to the level of bickering even to just cry BS!!

One more comment on the race here, I thought Julien Leparoux would have had Dialed in MUCH closer to the pace especially when they backed off.  I understand its his style to be a dead closer but better positioning may not have won the race but would have allowed for a better accounting of himself.  Again he made up a bunch of ground but a better trip was needed.  

If he shows up, Alternation may be a presence in the Belmont. I hope that they do decide to run AK (if hes ready) in the Belmont.  He should relish that long stretch and the deeper going with less clay kickback.

Safe trips for all!!

25 May 2011 11:20 AM
The Deacon

Linda in Texas:  Bravo, you said what most of us are thinking......

Dr. D:  I agree with your assessment about Premier Pegasus, but he would be the only one from here out west who even remotely had a chance in my book.

Steve:  I asked you an earlier question on a different blog, I was wondering if you thought that maybe Apapane or Buena Vista would come to Churchill Downs to take on Goldikova in the BC Turf Mile. Both look very formidable. What a race it could shape up to be.

Dr. D: no more predictions from me, this sport is too fragile to predict anything. I do believe however that if Uncle Mo gets right again, he will be very hard to beat. He has that much talent.

25 May 2011 1:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Linda in Texas

  Your posts are super. Keep up the good work. All of the horses are heros, and most of the people working with them are also.

25 May 2011 1:52 PM
Rachel NH

Even though Forestry is not known for distance, Forestry's dam sire & grandsire are Derby winner Pleasant Colony and Dr. Fager!

When's the last time we had a classic horse inbred on the Doctor?

Forestry's sire's dam was the great Terilingua (sp?)a daughter of Secretariat...

Shack's got great classic distance influences (and NO Mr. Prospector)! I hope that he, AK (NO Mr.P) and MMM (Mr.P far back) run in the Belmont and all year, a great rivalry develops and they all do well and prosper and decide it all at the BC!

25 May 2011 2:00 PM
Oldie

Linda In Texas, gold stars to you!  To your point, last year quite by accident we found rebroadcasting of races from Arapahoe Park near Denver - never even knew it existed - and the times for several of the races at this little track were right there with bigger races at bigger tracks.  I have not visited yet (it's a busy life - this is the first time this week I've gotten enough of a lunch break to finish reading this remarkable article and the equally remarkable comments) but it appears to be populated with small money owners and trainers and various other workers who likely work every bit as hard as anyone else in the business.  Maybe the difference is that there is absolutely no doubt they are doing it for the love of the sport.

A pretty famous person recently wrote about what she had learned about people over time: everyone we meet either is dealing, or has dealt with, crises, tough breaks, heartbreaks, and crushing disappointments; and here we all are, carrying on.  

We in particular are loving the daylights out of these beautiful beasts and their people.  There is not a thing wrong with that.  It's among my favorite things to have in common with people.

25 May 2011 2:27 PM
Gin

Great article Steve.

Nice sentimental moment on Dale assisting Graham down to the CD's winners circle.  Glad everyone came out of the race safe and sound.  I hope Mucho didnt suffer any stone bruises loosing a shoe again.  

I really am sick and tired of people saying Shack's a Forestry so he cant get this distance or that distance.........duh he's got distance on both sides folks. Just sire didnt get it is all. He has plenty of distance pedigree.

Ouch to Shack hitting his head in the FOY!!!!!!!

AK ran great and proved his derby was not a fluke.  Just like the Bird did 2 years ago.

25 May 2011 9:00 PM
Alex'sBigFan

MikeM,

Good point.  I noticed the same thing about the announcers stating

that Shackleford's prerace behavior would be detrimental, when Romans specifically stated afterwards that this was normal for Shackleford.  Shouldn't the announcers have had all their homework in front of them and known

the behavior was normal for Shackleford and calmed the tv viewers?  I think so.  All in all NBC did a good job though, still needs some tweaking.

JayGo,

I too will be at the Belmont and I live for this time of year.  NYRA now is left with quite a marketing challenge with no Triple Crown on the line.  We'll maybe get 44,000 people, maybe.  Sad.  With a Triple Crown attempt that figure could reach 100,000 on track attendance.  Just to see these magnificent creatures up close and not on tv is awesome for me, I can't wait!!!! Racing needs stars to promote and market so the public will come out and see them,

and especially with the economy still not right and gas prices way too high, NYRA has like I said quite a challenge.  The year Big Brown ran Shaquille O'Neal brought the jockeys out, maybe they should get Shaq again to support Shack if Shackleford is confirmed to run.  A TC winner would ignite the sport and catapoult it into the mainstream, and maybe put the Belmont back on the map.  Hopefully we get the Derby winner, Preakness winner, Master of Hounds over again from Europe, Dialed In, etc. to thrill us again.  NBC should kick in with commercials well in advance and especially once the field is confirmed.  All I know is that it is such a pleasure and thrill to finally see the colts in person after following them on tv for all these months.  They are something to behold and everyone should come out and support an equine athlete.

25 May 2011 9:12 PM
Racingfan

Linda in Texas:   I stopped reading Draynay's posts about a year ago cuz I just couldn't stand it anymore!  Now I always look to see the name of the poster before reading!  It works really well!  (I did break down and read one post of his after the Derby where he was bragging about picking the second place horse!  I saw nothing had changed!)  LOL

25 May 2011 9:52 PM
furlongs

DRAYNAY-

Once again you show how sorry you are as a handicaper. Nehro will run second like he always does! He is nothing but a maiden winner that circled a horrible field at Oaklawn after a bad trip as a favorite the time before. He has no heart and proved it in the Derby he had the best trip of all made the lead and was overtaken way to easy to think he is a serious racehorse. Couldnt pass Pants on Fire in LA couldnt overtake Archx3 in ARK and made the lead when your totally suppose to in the KY Derby and could not hold and was getting run down for 2nd place with 2 more jumps! A MAIDEN WINNER that it the only time he found the winners circle... so how many more times do you need to bet him and he come up short before you say "huh he just doesnt want to win" well dont worry there will be a 1x Allow down the road in the near future and best of all in that race he will be your price to, 1-5 so you can blog how he cant lose! lol how's those so called Pletcher 3year old monsters working out for you lately?? lol Save us the trouble and just get it over with... BET IT ALL IN THE BELMONT! I MEAN EVERY BIT OF IT! Heck I mean it doesn't cost much (even she charges you your so hard to put up with) to be living in your mom's basement so BET IT ALL!! Maybe then this blog can get a break from you. If only for a little while.

26 May 2011 12:56 PM
Linda in Texas

Alex'sBigFan-don't give up, just read New York is attempting to create having a I Love NY Racing campaign. Read it on the home page over to the right on the lists of Most Popular Stories on Bloodhorse.com. Nice long article written by Tom Precious. Check it out.

So happy that you will be

attending The Belmont. Have a great time, lucky you!

26 May 2011 1:33 PM
lyricsdav

Congrats to the connection of that wonderful horse Shackleford.Despite him winning over my favoured Animal Kingdom the distance was ideal for him.In any sporting world one laps in concentration or one bad start or evena bad plan can cause you a position.For Animal Kingdom whom I still have as the King of his crop,its a pity that he handle the dirt differently this time as was explain by his jockey.However Nehro should only be the one to watch in the Belmont Mile and a half unless he is asked to early again by the jockey like he did in the Kentucky.Take nothing away from Shackleford he is courages as one can be but there is always an elastic limit to everything and the Belmont will be asking to much of him.He is talented enough to be enter in more big name races later in the year rather than follow the hype attached to a show down with the King.My stupid advise to his connection is to skip the Belmont and you will enjoy more of your colt in the rest of the  year.

30 May 2011 3:32 PM

Recent Posts

Recommended

Video

Social Media

More Blogs

Archives