Race of the Week 2017

Shackleford Strong in Final Travers Move

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 it.”


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 tiring.


“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 working, agreed.


“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.




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