SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Dale Romans confirmed Monday morning that multiple Grade 1 winner Shackleford will run in the Grade 1, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on Sunday, August 5 at Saratoga Race Course.
“Our plan is to run in the Vanderbilt,” said Romans, who added that the 4-year-old Forestry colt would arrive on a flight from Kentucky to New York later this week. “The only thing that would change our plans is if we don’t like the way he is handling the track after he arrives at Saratoga.”
Owned by Bill Cubbedge, Michael Lauffer and Phillips Racing Partnership, Shackleford most recently ran perhaps the top race of 2012 to this point, defeating Caleb’s Posse by a nose in the prestigious Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 at Belmont Park. His gutsy front-running triumph in the Met Mile earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure, the top Beyer registered this year on a natural dirt surface.
Shackleford, who won the 2011 Preakness Stakes at 1 3/16 miles, will attempt to join an elite group of horses that have won Grade 1 races at six furlongs and also at distances longer than 1 1/8 miles.
Since the graded stakes system was introduced in 1973, only four horses are believed to have achieved this feat: Ruffian won the six-furlong Spinaway and Sorority in 1974 and the 1 ½-mile Coaching Club American Oaks in 1975, Foolish Pleasure won the six-furlong Sapling in 1974, the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby in 1975, and the 1 3/16-mile Suburban in 1976, Precisionist won the 1984 Swaps at 1 ¼ miles and the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and Dancing Spree won the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the 1 ¼-mile Suburban.
After the Met Mile, Romans initially indicated that the 4-year-old son of Forestry would await the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego at seven furlongs on September 1, but he has seen signs that Shackleford might be ready sooner.
“He’s starting to come out of his shell and I don’t think it will be as taxing on him as the one and one eighth miles of the Whitney,” Romans said this past Friday. “He’s a horse that likes to run, and if nothing else, it would be a good prep for the Forego. He only has three or four more races left in his career, so we might as well get them.”
The Vanderbilt will mark the first time that Shackleford tries the six-furlong distance.