Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Shackleford was foaled in Kentucky and his trainer, Dale Romans, is based there, but the colt also has close ties to South Carolina. Mike Lauffer’s and Bill Cubbedge’s homebred son of Forestry spent more than six months in the Palmetto State when he was a yearling and a 2-year-old being broken and prepared for racing at the Webb Carroll Training Center near St. Matthews.
“He was a big, good-looking, immature-type horse that was trying to get it together,” Webb Carroll said. “We took a lot of time with him to give him the opportunity to do that.”
The facilities at the training center, which has 155 stalls on its main farm, include a seven-furlong track and a three-furlong turf gallop. The operation also has what Carroll calls “a backup farm” with a half-mile track, turnout paddocks, and approximately 70 stalls.
Just about everything in South Carolina went smoothly for Shackleford, but he did have “a little funny quirk about the starting gate,” remembered Carroll.
“We would take him out with these big sets to walk through the gate daily and he just didn’t want to do it,” Carroll said. “We never pushed him and never prodded him; we just let him watch. Then after about six weeks of not pushing him, playing with him, and finessing him, he all of a sudden one day just boldly walked into the gate on his own. It was amazing.”
Said Carroll’s assistant, Travis Durr: “He didn’t like it (the starting gate), but he always came out fast.”
Carroll also prepared another Preakness winner, War Emblem, for racing. In addition to capturing the second leg of the Triple Crown in 2002, the son of Our Emblem also scored in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), and Illinois Derby (gr. II) during a season that won him an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.
“I was over at the (Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile) sale (in Timonium, Md.) and I didn’t even come to War Emblem’s Preakness,” Carroll said.
But he was at Pimlico May 21 to cheer on Shackleford, and that experience made Carroll’s association with the colt even more special.
“To be a part of it with these guys is so wonderful; they’re such good people,” Carroll said.