Shackleford , the Florida Derby (gr. I) runner-up, impressed observers at Churchill Downs the morning of April 30 when the son of Forestry sizzled five furlongs in a bullet :58 4/5 in his final preparations for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
With Tammy Fox, wife of trainer Dale Romans, aboard for the breeze, Shackleford turned in the best time of the day among 36 horses working that distance on a welcome warm, sunny Saturday morning at the Downs. The pleasant weather was in stark departure to the heavy rains for much of the week that led to flooding in some areas of Louisville, Ky.
Shackleford, a homebred for Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge, was timed in fractions of :11 3/5, :23 and :34 2/5. As impressive as he worked, the colt also looked just as good afterward, galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5. Even then, Fox had a hard time pulling up Shackleford, who looked like he wanted to do more.
“He looked really good,” said Romans, who watched the work from a clocker’s stand on the backside. “He wanted to keep on going. I was really impressed with his gallop out. He just loves this track and he loved it here last year as 2-year-old.
“He’s as good as I can get him. It is just a question of whether he is good enough.”
A handsome chestnut colt, Shackleford has won two of five starts with earnings of $271,666. Produced from the Unbridled mare Oatsee, whose offspring include grade I winner Lady Joanne, Shackleford joined Lauffer and Cubbedge’s small stable after he failed to achieve his $275,000 reserve at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
After breaking his maiden and winning an allowance in his second and third starts, respectively, Shackleford ran fifth in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) before leading throughout only to be caught late by Dialed In for a runner-up effort at 68-1 odds in the Florida Derby.