Shackleford captured the hearts of racing fans last year with his gritty performances through the Triple Crown.
The son of Forestry won the Preakness Stakes (G1) in near wire-to-wire fashion last season after finishing a game fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He closed out his run through the classic races with a fifth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1) after setting the early pace in that 1 ½-mile marathon. He finished second in both the Indiana Derby (G2) and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in his final two starts of 2011.
Shackleford will attempt to get back in the win column on Saturday when he starts in the $400,000 Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct. In his first start this year, Shackleford finished seventh in the 1 1/8- mile Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park in February. He cuts back in distance on Saturday to seven furlongs, and he will be ridden by his regular pilot Jesus Castanon.
Shackleford put in his final preparation for the Carter on April 1, working four furlongs in 47.20 seconds at Gulfstream Park.
“The next couple races are going to be short,” trainer Dale Romans told NYRA Press. “The Carter is seven-eighths and then he’ll go back in the [Grade 1, $750,000] Met Mile [May 28 at Belmont Park]. We’re just going to give him a chance to be a middle-distance horse. He ran very good in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. That’s good on his resume for his stallion prospects. We’ll decide what direction to go in after the Met Mile.”
The stallion prospects are now an important part of Shackleford’s future. Last week, owners Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge sold a share of the son of Forestry to the historic Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, where he will begin stud duty in 2013.
Shackleford has earned $1,985,803 with three wins and four seconds from 13 starts.
If all goes well, Shackleford will race through another Grade 1 campaign, with a possible stop this summer in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course on his way to another run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Shackleford has developed a large following. The colt’s Facebook page is testament to that fact with nearly 3,000 fans.
“He has a big fan club, and a lot of people are always contacting us about him,” Romans said. “He definitely has the biggest fan club of any horse I’ve ever had.”
NYRA Press contributed to this report.