Preakness Winner Shackleford Works for Donn

Preakness Winner Shackleford Works for Donn


By Ed Gray & Jack Will

Shackleford breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:01.45 Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park in preparation for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on Feb. 11. The 2011 Preakness Stakes winner was ridden by jockey Jesus Castanon.

“It was what we were looking for,” trainer Dale Romans said.

Saturday’s workout was the latest in a string of solid workouts in preparation for his first start since finishing a long and productive 2011 campaign with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs.

“He hasn’t missed a beat. He hasn’t missed a beat in his life,” Romans said. “It’s nature. He’s just tough.
Shackleford raced three times at Gulfstream last year, including an allowance victory, a fifth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and a brilliant second-place finish in the Florida Derby (G1), in which he led the way into deep stretch before succumbing by a head to Dialed In. 

             Force Freeze Impresses in Workout for 2012 Debut

Force Freeze continued to impress trainer Peter Walder Saturday while preparing for a scheduled start in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G2) on Feb. 18. The 7-year-old gelding, second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in his 2011 finale, turned in his third straight bullet workout, covering six furlongs in 1:10.85.

Jockey Paco Lopez was aboard for the workout and will ride Force Freeze for the first time in his debut in the seven-furlong sprint.

“If the race were six furlongs, I’d walk him out and wait in the winner’s circle,” Walder said. “But the race is seven-eighths. I’m just a little leery about the seven-eighths. He’s doing great and Paco said he’ll have no problem getting seven-eighths. But seven-eighths can be a tricky distance.”

Force Freeze has never run beyond six furlongs in eight starts in the U.S., including his first five starts before being exported to Dubai and his three starts for Walder last year after his return to the U.S.

Force Freeze debuted for Walder with a triumph in the ungraded Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth last August before stepping up to Grade 1 company in his next two starts. He finished second, a half-length behind Giant Ryan, in the Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont before losing to Amazombie by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Also notable on the Gulfstream work tab Saturday morning was Klaravich Stable’s and William H. Lawrence’s 3-year-old Currency Swap breezing an easy half-mile in 51 flat for trainer Terri Pompay, his second recorded workout since arriving to prepare for his 2012 campaign. The son of High Cotton won both of his starts last year, including the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last out on Sept. 5.

Saturday morning’s Calder work tab was led by owner-trainer Luis Olivares’ 5-year-old gelding Tackleberry breezing a half-mile in 48 3/5 as he prepares for his first start since finishing ninth in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park on May 30.

Tackleberry was one of the stars of the 2011 Gulfstream meet when the son of Montbrook swept to stakes victories in the Sunshine Millions Classic, Gulfstream Sprint Championship (G2) and Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2). Olivares has indicated he could make his return in the seven-furlong Gulfstream Sprint Championship on Feb. 18.

            DiVito Playing the Waiting Game with Luke of York

After finishing fourth in his first start on dirt, Luke of York won’t be involved in any of the 3-year-old stakes during the Gulfstream Park meeting.

“He’s getting a rest. He’s going to run on synthetic surfaces. He’s much better on synthetics,” said trainer James DiVito. “He’ll be going to Keeneland.”

Before losing as the odds-on favorite at Tampa Bay in his first dirt start in December, Luke of York won his first two races on Polytrack, a debut score at Arlington Park and a triumph in the $125,000 Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes.

A start in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) might be a possibility.

“If everything works out well, and if he can get that distance,” DiVito said. “That horse is really bred for sprinting to tell the truth.”

            Gulfstream Park Derby First & Third in Action Saturday

Stipa Racing Stable’s Reveron and Ronald McKee’s King Kid finished first and third, respectively, in the first running of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day. The two 3-year-old prospects will take another possible step on the road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) running in stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and Aqueduct on Saturday afternoon.

Jockey Fernando Jara guided Reveron to a hard-fought, half-length victory over Robert LaPenta’s Casual Trick in the Gulfstream Park Derby. He runs today in $250,000 Sam Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa. King Kid, trained by Dale Romans, is entered in the $200,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.