Friday, August 03, 2012


SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Thursday, August 3, 2012


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Shackleford arrived at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday morning the picture of vitality, strapping and happy and the center of attention at the barn of trainer Dale Romans.

Almost immediately after entering his stall following a four-hour trip from Kentucky, the 2011 Preakness winner had a short roll on his back and then set to rearranging his stall bed and angling for treats.


Shackleford returned to his home base at Churchill Downs for rest following a scintillating, front-running score in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 at Belmont Park and will seek his second straight Grade 1 victory Sunday in the $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs.

“He left Churchill at 6:05 a.m. and got in at 11 am. It wasn’t much of a trip,” said Romans, grazing Shackleford outside the barn. “He went into Lexington and was last on the plane and first off. He gets the rock star treatment from everybody.”

Shackleford’s copper coat glistened in the sunshine after a sponge bath, and he rambunctiously leaped into the air several times afterward.

Romans initially had pointed Shackleford for a run in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Saturday but ultimately opted for the Vanderbilt as a springboard to the Grade 1 Forego at seven furlongs September 1 at the Spa.

“I was pointing toward the Whitney originally, but when he was tired after the Met Mile we backed up a little bit,” Romans said. “This was in the back of our mind, with the Forego as the main objective. I don’t think this will take as much out of him as the Whitney.”

Romans said Shackleford would gallop on the main track in the two days leading up to the Vanderbilt as well as school in the paddock and starting gate.

* * *

Calibrachoa, a former claimed turned into a five-time New York graded stakes winner by trainer Todd Pletcher for owner Mike Repole, was retired from racing this week.

“He has had some nagging issues with his feet, some going back to last year,” said Repole, leading owner at Saratoga Race Course each of the past two years. “Todd told me that we can’t work with the issue and train him the way we want. He has earned himself a nice retirement.”

Calibrachoa was claimed by Repole and Pletcher from owner Nelson Bunker Hunt and trainer Steve Asmussen for $40,000 in a race at Belmont Park in October 2010.

He proceeded to reel off four consecutive victories, including two Grade 3 sprints at Aqueduct Race Track – the Toboggan and the Tom Fool Handicap.

“We knew he could run a 100 Beyer [Speed Figure], so we claimed him,” Repole said. “This was a really nice horse when we claimed him, and he is one of those horses that got better with age. At the end of the day, all the credit goes to Todd and his entire team.”

Saving the best for last, Calibrachoa’s most impressive victory came in what turned out to be his final race, defeating 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse by a neck in this year’s Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool at Aqueduct on March 3.

The victory was extra special considering that Caleb’s Posse had defeated Repole’s champion colt Uncle Mo by a nose in the 2011 Grade 1 Foxwoods King’s Bishop at Saratoga.

“The Tom Fool was a very special win,” Repole said. “Calibrachoa repaid the favor for Uncle Mo. That was very fun and kind of fitting. Sometimes you remember losses more than wins, and that eased the pain.”

Repole indicated that stud plans have not yet been finalized for the 5-year-old son of Southern Image who earned $666,040 with 10 wins from 20 starts.

“In a perfect world, hopefully he can be a New York stallion,” Repole said. “My focus has always been on New York. I plan on considering all of the options and deciding what is best for his future. I will make sure he gets a great home.”

* * *

Sullimar Stable’s Get Stormy is set for his attempt to land a second victory in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap after breezing five furlongs on the Oklahoma turf course in 59.86 seconds on Wednesday.

The move, which came with Eddie Castro aboard, was the quickest of 15 at the distance.

“The jock did a great job and finished up good and galloped out good, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said trainer Tom Bush. “It was exactly what we were looking for. We’re ready to go. He won’t do anything else before the race besides gallop.”

The Fourstardave, which had its pursed raised to $500,000 this year, will be contested August 11.

Get Stormy, a three-time Grade 1 winner, will enter the one-mile turf race off a second in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes on June 10. In the Monmouth, Get Stormy rated behind Presious Passion and Get Serious early, took the on the far turn and was passed in the stretch by Data Link, who prevailed by one length. Data Link is also probable for the Fourstardave.

“The race would have been a lot closer, but Get Serious saw Castro move up [aboard Get Stormy] at the half-mile pole just to be in a better spot,” said Bush. “When Pablo Fragoso [on Get Serious] saw Castro move Get Stormy up, Get Serious came flying up beside Get Stormy and shot to the lead. And Eddie was screaming at him, ‘Where are you going? Where are you going?’ He was just holding his spot, and they moved way too soon in the race. And that’s how come he got caught. He couldn’t let Get Serious go on once that happened. But Get Stormy ran good that day. He really did.”

In three other starts this year, Get Stormy won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February, was fourth in the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile at Keeneland in April, and ninth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May at Churchill. Get Stormy won both the Makers Mark Mile and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in 2010.

Get Stormy, now 6, won the Fourstardave in 2010 but missed the race last year with a minor tendon issue.

In addition to Get Stormy and Data Link, the Fourstardave is expected to draw Grade 2 Firecracker winner Guys Reward, Grade 3 Poker winner Clear Attempt, and Grade 3 Jaipur winner Upgrade. Corporate Jungle, Right One, Salto, and Wise Dan are also probable, with El Commodore questionable.

* * *

Next week’s graded stakes get underway on Friday, August 10, with the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. Csaba, an 8 ¼-length winner of the El Kaiser on July 21 on dirt at Calder, will make his first start on grass since finishing third in the Grade 3 Palm Beach in March at Gulfstream Park. Expected him to face him are two-time graded stakes winner Daddy Nose Best, graded winner Shkspeare Shaliyah, stakes winner Skyring, and Optimizer, Quick Wit, Spring to the Sky, and Yari. Howe Great and Tiz Sardonic Joe are questionable, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

Grade 2 juvenile stakes are featured on Sunday, August 12, with fillies competing in the $200,000 Adirondack and colts going in the $200,000 Saratoga Special. Both races are contested at 6 ½ furlongs.

Starlight Stables’ Shanghai Bobby, already a stakes winner having taken the Track Barron overnight stakes at Belmont Park on June 27, heads the field in the Saratoga Special. Also expected, according to Byrnes, are Carried Interest, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 winning his Belmont Park debut by a half-length, along with In Harm’s Way, Sky Captain, Southern Honor and possibly Bobcat Jim.

In the Adirondack, Stonestreet Stables’ Kauai Katie will make a quick turnaround from her 12-length maiden victory at Saratoga on opening day to face Can’t Explain, runner-up in the Grade 3 Schuylerville last time out, as well as Salamera, Scammony, Sweet Shirley Mae, and Vitameta.


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