Dale Romans said he anticipated a different pace scenario in Saturday’s Belmont
Stakes than the ones that played out in the Kentucky Derby, in which Shackleford
led through moderate fractions and finished fourth, and the Preakness, in which
he stalked a hot pace and won.
1 ½ miles is totally different than either of those two races,” said Romans. “I
think if he can get a nice, slow, rhythmic pace, it would be perfect. But we
don’t want to go too slow. Going 1 ½ miles, fast or slow, they’re going to be
getting tired at the end.
may have gone too slow in the Derby,
because everyone came home so fast and we couldn’t hang on,” he said of that
race, in which Shackleford led through an opening half-mile in :48 3/5 and
three-quarters in 1:13 2/5. “The Preakness was different [opening half in :46
4/5] and they struggled a little bit at the end, and we had the stamina to
said he was confident in jockey Jesus Castanon’s ability to negotiate Belmont
Park’s unique 1 ½-mile oval despite his lack of experience at the track and not
having a mount the day before the race or on the Saturday card.
38 years old, it’s not like he’s a kid; he can figure this track out,” said Romans.
“He’s ridden here before, as well.”
whose first Grade 1 win came with Shackleford’s Preakness victory, last rode at
in July 2009, posting a 5-4-2 mark from 40 starts. His most recent stakes start
was in 2004, when he finished sixth aboard Burning Roma in the Poker.
is the morning-line third choice in the Belmont
at 9-2, behind Animal Kingdom (2-1) and Derby
runner-up Nehro (4-1).
think it could have gone either way with all three of them,” said Romans,
noting that Shackleford has been overlooked in almost all his races. “He’s not
getting the respect he deserves; every race he’s run in he’s been a longshot.
And he’s run well in all of them, except the Fountain of Youth. He just seems to
be getting better.”