Shackleford arrived at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday
morning the picture of vitality, strapping and happy and the center of
attention at the barn of trainer Dale Romans.
Photo: Joe Ganley/EquiSport Photos
Almost immediately after entering his
stall following a four-hour trip from Kentucky, the 2011 Preakness winner had a
short roll on his back and then set to rearranging his stall bed and angling
Shackleford returned to his home base at
Churchill Downs for rest following a scintillating, front-running score in the
Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 at Belmont Park
and will seek his second straight Grade 1 victory Sunday in the $400,000 Alfred
G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs.
“He left Churchill at 6:05 a.m. and
got in at 11 am. It wasn’t much of a trip,” said Romans, grazing
Shackleford outside the barn. “He went into Lexington and was last on the plane and first
off. He gets the rock star treatment from everybody.”
Shackleford’s copper coat glistened
in the sunshine after a sponge bath, and he rambunctiously leaped into the air
several times afterward.
Romans initially had pointed Shackleford
for a run in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Saturday but ultimately opted for
the Vanderbilt as a springboard to the Grade 1 Forego at seven furlongs
September 1 at the Spa.
“I was pointing toward the Whitney
originally, but when he was tired after the Met Mile we backed up a little
bit,” Romans said. “This was in the back of our mind, with the
Forego as the main objective. I don’t think this will take as much out of
him as the Whitney.”
Romans said Shackleford would gallop on
the main track in the two days leading up to the Vanderbilt as well as school
in the paddock and starting gate.