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Shackleford Finale: Clark Handicap or Cigar Mile?

After three years of racing, Shackleford will be retiring to stud duty in 2013, at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Shackleford has been one of the most popular horses for the past two years. Wherever he goes his loyal fans will be there to lend their support.
 
Shackleford is scheduled to make final start. Will that last race be the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 23rd or the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday the 24th?
 
Since joining the staff of Horse Racing Nation, I have been very lucky to have seen Shackleford run five times. The first time was for his 2011 thrilling Haskell stretch drive against Coil. Then I saw the four year-old Shack get third in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct behind Jackson Bend and Caleb’s Posse. I watched his dazzling victory in the Met Mile at Belmont when he defeated Caleb’s Posse and To Honor and Serve. Again I was at Belmont when he ran second in the Kelso Handicap.  Most recently I watched the Shackleford, go off as the 2.60-1 co-favorite in this year’s Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
 
Shackleford is looking to end his racing career with his sixth win in either the $400,000 mile and an eighth Clark or the $350,000 one mile Cigar. Both races would give the Dale Romans trainee his third grade one victory.
 
Shackleford’s five victories have come at a variety of distances. He won his maiden special weight and the 2012 Churchill Downs Handicap at seven furlongs. Of course the 2011 Preakness was run at the mile and three-sixteenths distance. Shack has one win at nine furlongs in a NW1 allowance to start his sophomore season and the win in Met Mile.
 
In three career starts at a mile, Shackleford has a record of 1 win and two seconds. The Met Mile victory produced his best Beyer Speed Figure of 116. The two place finishes came in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile, where he was behind rival Caleb’s Posse and in the recent Kelso when he got passed by Jersey Town.
 
At the nine furlong distance of the Clark, Shackleford has run five times with the same one win and two seconds record. In the Florida Derby and the Haskell, he placed behind Dialed In and Coil respectively. He was not competitive in the 2011 Fountain of Youth and the 2012 Donn Handicap.
 
Shackleford has only run once at Aqueduct in this year’s Carter, but he has started four times at Churchill Downs.  He has two wins at the Twin Spires in his maiden breaker and the seven furlong CD Handicap. The other two starts were in the 2011 Derby and the Breeders’ Cup.
 
With about a week until both races the Clark Handicap looks to have the stronger field. Probable starters at Churchill Downs include: Bourbon Courage, Cease, Neck N’ Neck, and Take Charge Indy with all of those horses coming off strong performances.  Stay Thirsty and Jersey Town should be in the gate for the Cigar Mile. Stay Thirsty was impressive in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, while Jersey Town had a lackluster fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
 
Since the Donn in February, Romans has not run Shackleford beyond a mile.  When building a resume for stallion prospects, victories at the mile distance are coveted. A win in the Cigar Mile would confirm that Shackleford has the speed and stamina that goes along with his scheduled $20,000 stud fee.
 
If in fact the connections decide to send Shackleford north to run in the Cigar Mile, I would be very happy to head out to Aqueduct to watch the handsome chestnut run his final race.  

 

What the Nation is saying about Shackleford Finale: Clark Handicap or Cigar Mile?...

Shack seems to run well at Churchill, but he has won only one race beyond a mile. He'll probably face stiffer competition in the Cigar Mile, but he's never ducked competition before. So I think he should try the Cigar Mile. He'd love to see him win his last race.
I would love to see how Groupie Doll would fair against Shack
Animals who cannot rate any better than he has shown of late are doomed to getting outbroken then falling back.
What a racehorse. All class. Shackelford, was always trying to win, and never quit. He has to be one of MY, all time favorites. Sad to see him go, but await his offspring.
What a racehorse. All class. Shackelford, was always trying to win, and never quit. He has to be one of MY, all time favorites. Sad to see him go, but await his offspring.
he should race in the Cigar mile
Trainer Dale Romans said Wednesday that no decision has been made whether Shackleford will make his final career start in the Clark Handicap or the Cigar Mile. A decision could be made following Shackleford’s workout this weekend, which will come at Churchill Downs on Saturday or Sunday following the renovation break.
it wil be the Clark, Saty Thirsty will dominate The Cigar Mile
Which championship did this one win? Three year old of Maryland??
OMG retire this horse already, he's done his job. His past performances says it all! He will alway be a champion no matter what.
This is an honest one. Would like to see him go out on a positive note.
cigarrrr mile, keep him at the distance he can thrive on.
UPDATE -- Wow, I just saw that Buff Bradley is considering Groupie Doll for the Cigar Mile! (per DRF)
Yeah stay in Churchill and dominate
Since Churchill is his home track, I would keep him there
Seems like the Cigar Mile makes a little more sense for the horse, but I'm kind of hoping to see one last time in person in the Clark.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

 

Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

 

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