Trainer Dale Romans
sent out his star 3-year-old Shackleford for
his final serious work Saturday morning in preparation for the Grade 1, $1
million Travers on August 27.
Romans had jockey Jesus Castanon up for the five-furlong work as his partner
and chief exercise rider Tammy Fox was busy taking their daughter, Bailey, to
her first day of college.
Castanon wheeled the strapping chestnut son of Forestry around the Saratoga main track in
1:00.87, the seventh best effort of 37 at the distance, according to the NYRA
clockers. He got the first three furlongs in 36.24 seconds and galloped out six
furlongs in 1:14.40.
Back at the barn, Shackleford, winner of the Preakness Stakes and
second to Travers rival Coil last
out in the Haskell Invitational, looked nothing short of robust. He dove into a
vigorous roll in his favorite dirt pit, got up to paw at the ground, and then
dove back down.
“I thought it went perfect today,” Romans said. “We
just wanted him to break off nice and easy and finish strong. He finished great
and galloped out really good. I couldn’t be happier with the way he did
Romans said he has been trying lately to figure out how the main track
has been playing. He said that Hall of Fame trainer LeRoy Jolley recently told
him he believed the backside favored speed while the stretch appeared more
“He finished very strong, and I haven’t seen that in a lot
of my horses working here,” Romans said. “It seems like down the
stretch has been a little bit slower than the backside to me. We wanted him to
ease off and finish good, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Castanon, who regularly gallops Shackleford when the colt is not
“He has been feeling pretty excited every time I take him to the
track, and he did it pretty good,” he said. “He has really relaxed
a lot better. He really likes this place a lot. He’s ready.”
Romans said Shackleford likely will get a couple days off now, with
some schooling in the paddock and starting gate. Then he just will gallop up to
the 1 ¼-mile Travers.
“He’s not going to get any more fit than he is right
now,” Romans said. “All the big work is done; we just have to make
sure he goes into the race happy.”
Shackleford wasn’t the only top horse Romans had out on the main
track Saturday morning. His brother Jerry Romans’ ace sprinter Sassy Image turned in an effortlessly fast
five furlongs in 58.66 seconds under regular rider Robby Albarado.
No other worker at the distance came even close, with the next-fastest
clocking being 1:00.03 by the Grade 3 Comely winner Hot Summer.
Sassy Image, a 4-year-old chestnut daughter of Broken Vow is on track
for a run in the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina at seven furlongs on the Travers
Day card. Already this year, Sassy Image has scaled the heights, winning the
Grade 1 Humana Distaff on the Kentucky Derby card; the Grade 3 Winning Colors,
also at Churchill Downs; and the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder Race Course
in her most recent start.
“Sassy was phenomenal,” Romans said of the work.