Trainer Dale Romans, who already has established a personal record for single-season North American earnings in 2012, has multiple chances to take down additional lucrative prizes over the next two weeks at Belmont Park.
In addition to having Little Mike in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) Sept. 29 as previously announced, Romans plans to run Finnegans Wake in the Joe Hirsch, Shackleford in the same day Kelso Handicap (gr. II), and Dullahan in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) Oct. 6.
Shackleford will be returning to the scene of his victory in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), which was contested over the Kelso's one-mile distance in May.
The 4-year-old colt (Forestry—Oatsee, by Unbridled) breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 Sept. 23 at Churchill Downs as he gears up for what will be his first race since an eighth-place finish in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) Aug. 5 at Saratoga Race Course. He originally was pointed toward Saratoga’s Forego (gr. I) Sept. 1 but bypassed the race after developing a cough.
"It was as good of a work as he's ever had, and we did the right thing by skipping the Forego," said Romans, who trains the chestnut for Michael Lauffer, W.D. Cubbedge, and the Phillips Racing Partnership. "We're looking for a big effort from him."
Dullahan, winner of the TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) over older horses Aug. 26 at Del Mar, and Finnegans Wake, second in the Secretariat (gr. IT) Aug. 18, race for Donegal Racing. Both turned in Sept. 22 breezes at Churchill Downs. Finnegans Wake went six furlongs in 1:15 4/5, with Dullahan going five furlongs in 1:02 1/5.
Romans had considered running Dullahan in the Joe Hirsch. "It was less about timing (to the Breeders' Cup in November) for Dullahan than it was about giving Finnegans Wake the chance to try a mile and a half," said Romans. "I think (Finnegans Wake) is going to relish the distance."
Dullahan, a three-time grade I winner on synthetic surfaces, will be making his first start on grass in the Jamaica since finishing second in the Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) in March.
"By sending Dullahan to the Jamaica, he still gets to try the turf while getting to stay against straight 3-year-olds," said Romans.
Dullahan (Even the Score —Mining My Own, by Smart Strike) sports a record of 3-2-3 from 12 starts and has earned $1,702,091. Finnegans Wake (Powerscourt—Boat's Ghost, by Silver Ghost) has carved out a record of 2-1-2 from nine races and earnings of $275,206.