Three of the headliners for the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap on
April 7 put in their final works this weekend, with Shackleford and Jackson Bend
training in Florida, and Calibrachoa
gearing up at Belmont Park.
Last year’s Preakness champion Shackleford fired a bullet at Gulfstream Park on Sunday morning, going four
furlongs in 47.20.
The Carter will be Shackleford’s second start of the year,
following a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on February 11 at
Shackleford closed out his ambitious 2011 campaign with a second-place
finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs. He
hasn’t run in a seven-furlong race since breaking his maiden at Churchill
Downs on November 27, 2010.
Just up the road from Gulfstream, Jackson Bend put in a bullet of his
own on Saturday at the Palm
Center, breezing four
furlongs in 48.33.
“It was a terrific work,” said Hall of Fame trainer Nick
Zito, by telephone. “I was happy with him. He went very nice, very even.
He’s such a professional, such a tough little guy. I think everyone roots
Jackson Bend boasts a Grade 1 win at the seven-furlong Carter distance,
earned last summer in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Forego, which he won by 3 ¼
With Shackleford, Emcee,
and Tahitian Warrior all expected
for the Carter, it appears that the late running duo of Jackson Bend and
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s
Posse will have plenty of pace to chase this coming Saturday.
Mike Repole’s Calibrachoa, a six-time stakes winner at Aqueduct,
is set for the Carter after posting a 50.52 four-furlong breeze on the Belmont Park
training track on Sunday.
[Calibrachoa] went in 50 and a fifth, out in 1:02 and four,” said
Michael McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “Pretty routine for
him. He worked in company with Dan and Sheila. [It’s] up in the air as to
where [Dan and Sheila] will start next. Both horses worked well.”
For the second straight year, Calibrachoa swept Aqueduct’s graded
inner-track stakes for sprinters, taking the Grade 3 Toboggan on February 4 and
Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 3. In three Grade 1 starts, he was third in
the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, fifth in the
Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont,
and third in the Cigar Mile Handicap.