Dale Romans has had high hopes for Shackleford ever since he broke his maiden in November at Churchill Downs. By handily defeating a good field of winners Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park while going two turn for the first time, the 3-year-old son of Forestry showed his trainer he is ready for bigger and better things.
Ridden by Jesus Castanon, Shackleford took over from pacesetter El Grayling nearing the quarter-pole and bounded home for a 2 1/4-length victory in the first-level allowance race (VIDEO). He completed nine furlongs in 1:50.04 for his second win in three starts. A field of six sophomores went to post.
Casper's Touch, the even-money favorite, finished up will to get second by a nose over El Grayling. Casper’s Touch was rank and stuck on the inside under Julien Leparoux, then was bumped badly by Shadow Warrior at the top of the stretch. He was still able to split horses in deep stretch, confirming that he is also a horse to watch as the Triple Crown trail rolls on.
Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge are the breeders/owners of Shackleford, a three-quarters of a length winner back on Nov. 27 at Churchill going seven furlongs. The chestnut colt is out of the Unbridled mare Oatsee.
The $400,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) three weeks from now could be an option for all of the top three finishers.
El Grayling, with Paco Lopez aboard, led the way through fractions of :24.33, :48.39, and 1:12.22 as Shackleford followed him closely and took a narrow advantage rounding the far turn.
Shackleford paid $11.20, $4.80, and $3 as the third choice.