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HRN Original Blog:
Summer At The Spa

"Shack" is Back

Great news to report from Belmont this morning, as Shackleford had his final work before next week’s 143rd Belmont Stakes. He went five furlongs in 1:00.30, under exercise rider Tammy Fox. After the work, trainer Dale Romans gave the green light for his charge to run in the Belmont.
 
“As long as he comes out of the work good, he will run,” Romans said. “I’m excited he’s doing so well and coming into the race the right way.”
 
“I think he’s going to be very competitive.”
Animal Kingdom arrives tomorrow and is scheduled to work on Monday morning. If all goes according to plan, the Derby winner and the Preakness winner will remain on course for their rubber match.
 
It’s the signature week of the Belmont meet, and it is obviously going to be a very busy one here on Horse Racing Nation, and, specifically, on this page. Here’s the “Fast Times at Belmont Park” coverage schedule for the week to come.
 
[Who do YOU like in the 2011 Belmont? Click here to rank the contenders.]
 
Monday: We’ll preview the five undercard stakes which, along with the Belmont, will comprise Saturday’s all graded stakes pick six. Among the highlights; the scheduled return of Gio Ponti in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (G1), Turbulent Descent making her New York debut in the TVG Acorn (G1), and, what could be, an absolutely loaded edition of the Foxwoods Just a Game Stakes (G1) featuring the ultra-competitive filly and mare turf division.
 
Tuesday: Several of the principals will gather at Rockerfeller Center to meet with members of the media for a Belmont week kickoff luncheon. We’ll be on the scene to provide some quotes (and, hopefully, video) from some of the notables.
 
Wednesday: It’s draw day! Post positions for the Belmont will be drawn at 11 AM ET, and we’ll be live on the scene with reactions from the connections. There are 13 still considered possible for the race, so post positions might be somewhat more crucial than they are many years.
 
Thursday: The other day, I had an opportunity to have an extended conversation with Mike Repole, owner of last year’s champion two year-old Uncle Mo. The interview lasted nearly an hour, and he had some very interesting things to say, not only about Uncle Mo, but also about the future of the sport at large - both locally and nationally. I’ll post the entire transcript of our conversation on Thursday.
 
Friday: An all encompassing final preview of the race.
 
Post-Race Saturday: Immediate reactions from the winning connections, as well as a full recap of the race.
 
Monday: A more wide-ranging perspective piece on the aftermath of the Belmont, and what it means going forward.
 
Race fans around these parts wait all year for this week. It is our aim to see that “Fast Times” will do it justice by providing you with some of the most comprehensive Belmont Stakes coverage on the internet.

 

Photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese

 

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I can't wait for all the great Belmont coverage this week, Joe ... this is your week, Man!

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 Meet Joe DePaolo

My love of horse racing dates back to the 1999 Belmont Stakes, where I was fortunate enough to witness Chris Antley's heroics in saving the life of Charismatic from just yards away. Since then, my passion for the sport has only grown, to the point where it fueled my desire to be involved on a professional basis.
 
A product of Queens College and the world-renowned Bronx High School of Science, I've spent the past few years producing news talk radio on the national level. Most notably, I have worked with; Ron Reagan, Arianna Huffington, and Thom Hartmann.
 
In 2010, I teamed with heralded freelance writer Claire Novak to host the popular "Youbet: On Track" podcast. Together, Claire and I chronicled the Saratoga 2010 meeting daily, covering everything from Blame's thrilling conquest of the Whitney, to Rachel Alexandra's stunning defeat in the Personal Ensign. Our weekly "Backside Buzz" segment, in particular, earned great acclaim from many in the racing community.
 
I currently live in Bayside, New York. Contact me at jdepaolo85@gmail.com if you have any comments or questions.