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Shackleford Meet & Greet Draws a Crowd

Shackleford wins the 2012 Met Mile over Caleb's Posse

Thanks in large part to the power of Twitter, Facebook and the welcoming hospitality of trainer Dale Romans and crew, a crowd of approximately 80 horse lovers descended upon Santa Anita’s Barn 76 at 11 a.m. Saturday, as Romans presented stable stars Shackleford (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile), Little Mike (Breeders’ Cup Turf ), and Dullahan (Turf or Classic) to the enthusiastic gathering, most of whom were armed with cameras.

“This is all thanks to Laura Hernan,” said the self-effacing Romans. “She handles our social media and she said we’ve been getting all kinds of requests to meet ‘Shack,’ and so I decided today would be the best day to try and accommodate as many people as possible.

“Both ‘Shack’ and Dullahan worked five eighths this morning and they both went in a minute, which is the third best time of the morning.”

Along with a large gathering of fans, HRTV was on hand to document the “Meet and Greet,” as Romans first addressed questions regarding how his horses trained earlier and then brought each horse out individually to pose for pictures.

Before Romans brought out his first horse, Little Mike, a winner of this year’s Arlington Million, one of the attendees told Romans, “Somebody (in media) said that Shackleford worked too fast and that he might be over the top.”

To which Romans quipped, “Tell him to get a trainer’s license . . . He trains fast and he runs fast.”

Next out was recent Pacific Classic winner Dullahan, of whom Romans said, “This is the only horse in the history of racing who has three wins and all three have been in Grade I races.”

When asked if Dullahan would be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the 1 ½-mile Turf, Romans said, “I’ll talk to Tammy (Fox, who is Roman’s chief exercise rider, assistant and life partner) tonight and we’ll make a decision. If was up to me, I’d run him in the Classic, but we’ll discuss it.”

The morning’s main event came when Romans paged Shackleford, a winner of last year’s Preakness and this year’s Grade I Metropolitan Mile Handicap and Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes.

When the 4-year-old son of Forestry emerged from his shedrow, there was no doubt that he is the Romans’ stable star. The striking chestnut posed calmly with his ears pricked and turned his head from time to time to take in the shutter-clicking throng.

“Shackleford, he knows he’s the king,” said Romans. “He’s an absolutely special horse. When he won the Preakness, they always have a big party at the barn afterwards and there must’ve been a thousand people come by to pet him.”

After approximately five minutes, Romans asked if anyone had a mint. Several people said they did, and at that point, Romans allowed about 25 people, mainly small children, to come forward and have their picture taken with the barn’s leading man.

“I always thought he was a super cool horse and we wanted to give him a good name,” said co-owner and breeder Mike Lauffer, who had been on-hand earlier for Shackleford’s final Breeders’ Cup breeze. “We visit North Carolina a lot and the Shackleford Banks are part of the barrier islands off the coast. They are populated by wild horses that are believed to be descendents of a Spanish shipwreck in the 1700s.”

Yes, it was quite a show Saturday morning at Barn 76 and, as the song promises, “The Best is Yet to Come.”

 

 

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Older Comments about Shackleford Meet & Greet Draws a Crowd...

The Thoroughbred legends book about him is decent, but the better one is Grey Ghost.
Woah. I'm reading a book about him...you met a legend! So jealous...I've never been able ( or alive when they've been living) to meet any champ...Did see Shackleford and Caleb's Posse though...
YesTBDF. I did meet the Native Dancer. Mr Vanderbilt let me hold his lead rope after his groom took him out of his stall. It was needless to say a thrill that I have never forgotten.
Buck you met Native Dancer? THE native dancer? Wow. consider yourself amazingly lucky
We need more meet and greet with top horses for the fans. Years ago, many of the top owners would do this. I met Native Dancer through a letter I sent to his owner Alfred G. Vanderbilt. I gathered that he did that type of thing frequently.
Shackleford, could be the next Forego. Never quits, and is always there at the end.
They have always been great about posting pictures of Shack on the internet which probably helped increase his popularity. Possibly a good marketing strategy, too...the more fans he has, the more mares he will get?

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