Shackleford Back at Churchill Downs

May 25, 2011 Travers Manley

Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s homebred Shackleford returned to Churchill Downs just before 10:30 (Eastern) Sunday morning after returning from Baltimore and his half-length triumph in Saturday’s $1 million Preakness (Grade I), the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

            Returning with Shackleford to trainer Dale Romans’ Barn 4 was Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, who won Pimlico’s Dixie Handicap (GII) in the race preceding the Preakness.

            “It was awesome. He ran a heck of a race,” Romans said by telephone from Baltimore.  The Louisville-born trainer, who earned his first Triple Crown victory, will spend the next three days in Maryland at the Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale at Timonium and will be back in Louisville on Wednesday afternoon.

            “A lot of the people in the barn watched it (the Preakness) back here,” said Baldemar Bahena, Romans’ Churchill Downs assistant. “I was watching it over on the other side because we had had a horse in the 10th race.”

            Shackleford was ridden by Jesus Castanon, who picked up his first Triple Crown victory and also the first for his agent, Dennis Cooper.

            “These three races are a lot different from the Dubai World Cup or even the Breeders’ Cup,” said Cooper, a jock’s agent for the past 25 years. “Those races are nice, but these races are the ones people talk about.”

            Cooper, who took out his trainer’s license in 1966 and trained for 19 years, had Mark Guidry’s book for 14 years, Rene Douglas for seven years and Shaun Bridgmohan for two years before hooking up with Castanon in September 2009.

            This winter at Gulfstream Park, Castanon and Shackleford hooked up for the first time and the result was a 2 ¼-length allowance victory and a partnership was formed.

“We got on him in Florida and they just clicked,” Cooper said. “Jesus has a lot of confidence in him.”

            In the Preakness, Shackleford stalked the pace set by Flashpoint before moving to the lead at the head of the lane.

            “When I saw him look to his right at the head of the stretch and he hadn’t pushed the button yet, I knew he had a lot of horse left,” Cooper said. “He was not worried at all about the horse on his left (Flashpoint). He knew he had him. There was only one horse (Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom) coming and Jesus said that as soon as Shackleford saw him, he was not going to let him by.”

READY’S ROCKET DOING WELL AFTER RECORD RUN – Veteran starter allowance star Ready’s Rocket entered the Churchill Downs record book on Saturday when he when he persevered at the end of a long stretch drive won the second race by a neck.

            It was the ninth victory in 23 starts on the main track beneath the Twin Spires for the 8-year-old son of More Than Ready.  The victory made Ready’s Rocket the first horse to win nine races at Churchill Downs since 1991, which is the first year detailed information was gathered by Equibase.      

            Trainer and co-owner Tim Glyshaw was happy with the way his gutsy gelding came out of the race.        “He’s not sore at all or anything,” Glyshaw said. “He came out of it really well.”

            Ready’s Rocket is likely to make another start during the Churchill Downs Spring Meet in June.

            “Nothing definite is picked out for him yet,” Glyshaw said. “We’ll take a look at the condition book and find something.”

Eight-time winners at Churchill Downs since 1991 and the years they raced here are Athenium (1991-94), two-time Aristides (GIII) winner Bet On Sunshine (1995-2002), Canela (2005-10), Crown Lease (1991-95), Lord Rusty (1993-2000) and Maxxed (1995-98). 

            It is possible that prior to 1991 when detailed records were not maintained that other horses could have reached or exceeded that plateau. One such example is Herreno, who was trained by Phil Thomas. Herreno won nine races from 40 starts from 1982-85 at Churchill Downs at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile and eighth.


MUSKETIER ASSIGNED TOP WEIGHT FOR LOUISVILLE HANDICAP – Multiple graded stakes-winning 9-year-old Musketier (GER) has been assigned the high weight of 122 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s 74th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII). Owned by Stella Perdomo and trained by Roger Attfield, Musketier was victorious in the Elkhorn (GII) at the Louisville Handicap distance of 1 ½ miles in his most recent start.

The next high weights are Will Farish Jr.’s Pool Play (119) and Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Grassy (118).

Weighted at 117 pounds and a probable starter in the race is Keertana, third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) over the Matt Winn Turf Course last fall and winner of the Bewitch (GIII) at Keeneland in her most recent start. Owned and bred by Barbara Hunter, the 5-year-old daughter of Johar has compiled a record of 25-10-5-6 with earnings of $914,371.  

Others considered probable by Churchill Downs officials and their weights are Bearpath (116), Memorial Maniac (116), Dark Cove (114) and defending Louisville Handicap winner Free Fighter (113). Grade I winner Stately Victor is a possible starter for the race. 

Entries for the Louisville Handicap will be taken Wednesday.

WINNING COLORS FIELD COMING TOGETHER – The field for the eighth running of the $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII) is beginning to take shape. The six-furlong event for fillies and mares will be contested over the main track on Memorial Day, May 30.

Considered as probable starters by Churchill Downs officials and their trainers are Beat the Blues (Bret Calhoun), Indian Ink (Mike Rone), Jocata (Cecil Borel), My New Lady (Robert Hackworth Jr.), Stephanie Got Even (Marty Wolfson) and Wind Caper (Ronan Cunningham). Listed as possible for the race are Bell’s Shoes (Jinks Fires) and Fortune Play (John Booker Jr.). 

Dubai Majesty won the Winning Colors last year and then returned to Churchill Downs in November to win the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI).

BARN TALK – Jockey Fabio Arguello Jr. captured his 236th Churchill Downs victory in the 11th race on Saturday aboard 44-1 longshot Bk’s Clearanceisle. The win gave Arguello, who is ranked 23rd in career Churchill Downs wins, his first victory under the Twin Spires since crossing the wire first aboard Senorita’s Secrets on Nov. 18, 2009.  Arguello’s biggest victory at Churchill Downs came aboard Philip Maas’ Luv Me Luv Me Not in the 1992 Kentucky Oaks. …

Double R Stable’s Deborah’s Moment, a half-sister to last week’s impressive 2-year old debut winner Sum of the Parts, broke her maiden in the opener at Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the 3-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid was guided to victory by Brian Hernandez Jr.  


WORK TAB – Wertheimer and Frere’s Exhi, winner of the Ben Ali (GIII) at Keeneland last month in his 2011 debut, worked a half-mile early Sunday morning over a track labeled as “good” in :48.20 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

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