Trainer Dale Romans, who has already has established a personal record
for single-season North American earnings in 2012, will have multiple chances
to take down additional lucrative prizes over the next two weeks at Belmont Park
as he has Shackleford set for the
Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Handicap and Little
Mike and Finnegans Wake
confirmed for the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational on
September 29 and Dullahan primed
for the Grade 1, $400,000 Jamaica Handicap on October 6.
Shackleford will be returning to the scene of his victory in the Grade
1 Metropolitan Handicap, which was contested over the Kelso’s one-mile
distance in May.
The 4-year-old breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on Sunday at Churchill
Downs as he gears up for what will be his first race since an eighth-place
finish in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 5 at Saratoga
Race Course. He originally was pointed toward Saratoga’s Grade 1 Forego on September
1 but bypassed the race after developing a cough.
“It was as good of a work as he’s ever had, and we did the
right thing by skipping the Forego,” said Romans, who trains the chestnut
for Michael Lauffer, W.D. Cubbedge, and the Phillips Racing Partnership.
“We’re looking for a big effort from him.”
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational will be the first start at 1 ½
miles for both 5-year-old Little Mike and 3-year-old Finnegans Wake, with the
latter also set to take on older horses for the first time.
Owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, Little Mike will attempt to carry his
speed an additional quarter mile after leading the Grade 1, 1 ¼-mile Arlington
Million from gate to wire on August 18. The gelding posted a 1:03 2/5
five-furlong breeze on Saturday at Churchill.
“[The distance is] a question mark,” said Romans. “It
always is whenever you try something for the first time, but he’s done
everything we’ve asked him to do. Pace is the race. That’s the key
Both Finnegans Wake, second in the Grade 1 Secretariat on August 18 at Arlington Park,
and Dullahan, winner of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic over older horses on August
26 at Del
Mar, race for Donegal Racing and turned in Saturday breezes at Churchill Downs.
Finnegans Wake went six furlongs in 1:15 4/5, with Dullahan going five furlongs
in 1:02 1/5.
Romans considered running Dullahan in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
before opting to send Finnegans Wake to the race. Instead, Dullahan will
compete in the Jamaica,
a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, one week later.
“It was less about timing [to the Breeders’ Cup in
November] for Dullahan than it was about giving Finnegans Wake the chance to
try a mile and a half,” said Romans of the decision. “I think
[Finnegans Wake is] going to relish the distance.”
Dullahan, a three-time Grade 1 winner on synthetic surfaces, will be
making his first start on grass in the Jamaica since finishing second in
the Grade 3 Palm Beach in March.
“By sending Dullahan to the Jamaica, he still gets to try the
turf while getting to stay against straight 3-year-olds,” said Romans.