There is no doubt that the most eagerly anticipated event of the Memorial Day holiday weekend was the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I). Although the race drew only six starters, it was headlined by last year's Eclipse Award finalists Shackleford and Caleb's Posse; To Honor and Serve, who defeated older horses as a 3-year-old in last year's Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) and secured a 5¼-length victory in the Westchester Stakes (gr. III) on his seasonal reappearance; and Jackson Bend, who took the scalps of both Shackleford and Caleb's Posse in the Carter Handicap (gr. I) on his most recent outing.
Such keenly anticipated clashes have a tendency to result in anticlimax, but that wasn't the case May 28. Shackleford, who set strong fractions of :22.77, :44.73 (an intermediate split of :21.96), and 1:08.52, shook loose of his immediate pursuers—including a surprisingly forwardly-placed Jackson Bend—in the stretch, but then had to contend with the closing rush of Caleb's Posse, who had defeated him in similar circumstance in the 2011 Breeder's Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I). Drifting out to engage that rival, Shackleford dug in again and at the wire—reached in a swift 1:33.30—was still a nose to the good.
By adding this triumph to his victory in last year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Shackleford became the first horse to win the Preakness at 3 and the Met Mile at 4 since Carry Back in 1961-1962. The feat was also achieved by Native Dancer in 1953-1954 and, given that on his previous outing Shackleford defeated last year's champion sprinter, Amazombie, in near-record time for the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II), the chestnut son of Forestry might have a shot at a feat achieved by Native Dancer's sire Polynesian, that of winning the Preakness a 3 and then taking a title as champion sprinter in a subsequent season.
In gaining graded victories at seven, eight, and 9½ furlongs, Shackleford has actually outdone his sire. One of the best sprinting sons of Storm Cat, Forestry took the 6½-furlong San Pedro Stakes early in his 3-year-old career and earned his next stakes win when defeating Doneraile Court and Successful Appeal in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) over 8½ furlongs. Third to Menifee and Cat Thief, although beaten only a length, in the nine-furlong Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) after making most of the running, Forestry dropped back to seven furlongs to gain a grade I by capturing the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I). Cutting back yet another furlong, he ended his career with a good fourth, beaten 3¾ lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) after bobbling at the break and having to come five wide to make his run.
Retired to Taylor Made Stallions, Forestry made a bright start to his stud career, with 12 stakes winners from a first crop of 75 named foals, and a total of 27 stakes winners from his first three crops. Although his early successes saw his stud fee rise as high as $125,000, Forestry hasn't been able maintain that early strike rate, and for the most recent season he was advertised $12,500. For a horse available at that fee, Forestry has certainly sired more than his share of talented runners, and he now has 42 stakes winners to his name, 15 graded, with Shackleford being joined as a grade I winner by the brilliant Discreet Cat, as well as Diplomat Lady and Forest Danger. Interestingly, that trio—like Shackleford—all scored notable front-running victories, and it seems that an ability to withstand a hot early pace is something that characterizes the best of Forestry's offspring. Shackleford's broodmare sire Unbridled was also able to straddle the divide between classic performers and sprinters. Winner of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic (both gr. I) at 3, Unbridled had sufficient speed to defeat two-time champion sprinter Housebuster decisively over seven furlongs in the Deputy Minister Handicap at 4.
Shackleford's dam Oatsee didn't have that kind of talent, but she was good enough to win twice at 3 and to take third in the restricted Supertrack Racing Series Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Oatsee has gone on to prove herself a quite remarkable producer, however. From her first eight foals she is dam of seven starters, six winners, five stakes performers, and three graded stakes winners. Her first stakes winner, Baghdaria, was a rare Royal Academy that handled the dirt, winning the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks, Silverbulletday Stakes, and Iowa Oaks (all gr. III). She was also twice grade II-placed, including in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) over the Preakness course. Oatsee's second stakes winner, Lady Joanne, was also something of an anomaly, as the daughter of champion sprinter Orientate carried her speed 10 furlongs to win the Alabama Stakes (gr. I). Lady Joanne also won the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) and Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) and took second in the Mother Goose Stakes and Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (both gr. I).Baghdaria and Lady Joanne were Oatsee's second and third foals, and after dropping Haysee, an unraced sister to Lady Joanne, and the placed Langfuhr filly Miss Sea Oats, she came up with Afleeting Lady, who narrowly missed becoming a fourth stakes winner for her dam when beaten in a photo finish to last year's Falls City Handicap (gr. II). After foaling Shackleford the following year, Oatsee was sold to My Meadowview Farm for $1,550,000 at the 2008 Keeneland November sale. The A.P. Indy foal she was carrying at the time, Stephanoatsee, was a winner on his second start at 2 and looked as if he could develop into a classic candidate when finishing second to Alpha in the Count Fleet Stakes in January, despite still being very green. A subsequent injury took Stephanoatsee off the Triple Crown trail, but he should be back in action in the summer. Oatsee produced a Johannesburg colt—bred on a similar cross to Shackleford—in 2010 but missed to Dixie Union for 2011, the first year at stud that she failed to produce a live foal. Her 2012 foal is a filly by Indian Charlie and she is currently in foal to Bernardini.
Oatsee is the only black-type performer under her dam, the stakes-placed Lear Fan daughter With Every Wish. Out of the Hold Your Peace mare Amo, With Every Wish is a half sister to Amos, a stakes-winning son of Cryptoclearance (another by Unbridled's sire Fappiano). She is also a half sister to Oatsee's close relative Christy Love (also by Unbridled), the dam of graded stakes winner Atticus Kristy and stakes winners Distorted Reality and Fiery Dancer. The positive connection with Fappiano—himself a Met Mile winner—continues in the next generation, as Amo's dam Taminette produced two stakes winners to that horse: Tappiano, whose triumphs including the Demoiselle Stakes, Matron Stakes, and Spinaway Stakes (all gr. I); and A. P Jet, a stakes winner in Japan and subsequently a sire in New York. Taminette, a daughter of In Reality, was a sister to Known Fact (who took the English Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) on the disqualification of Nureyev), and half sister to grade I winner and sire Tentam (by In Reality's sire, Intentionally), and to Secrettame, the dam of Gone West. Taminette’s dam Tamerett was a half sister to Atan, a once-raced son of Native Dancer who subsequently had an important impact as sire of Sharpen Up, and she traces to the taproot mare Aloe, ancestress of numerous notable sires, including Round Table, Sideral (frequent leading sire in Argentina), Pulpit, Tale of the Cat, Johannesburg, and current Japanese phenomenon Deep Impact.
When Forestry retired to stud, it was widely assumed that as a Storm Cat son whose third dam was closely related to the dam of Mr. Prospector, he would be well suited by Mr. Prospector-line mares. The cross of Forestry over mares by Mr. Prospector and his sons and grandsons has indeed produced 11 stakes winners, but has needed 236 starters to do so. That's a strike-rate of 4.66% stakes winners to starters, as opposed to the 9.63% stakes winners to starters he has out of all other mares. The strike rate with Mr. Prospector-line mares is further diminished if we subtract the four stakes winners from 36 starters that Forestry has sired out of mares by sons of Fappiano, the cross that produced Shackleford. Perhaps the significance here is that Forestry's granddam Surgery is by Dr. Fager out of Bold Sequence, the very close relative to the dam of Mr. Prospector, where Fappiano is by Mr. Prospector out of a Dr. Fager mare. Looking at Shackleford's racing style, It's certainly interesting to recall that Dr. Fager was a brilliant frontrunner who seemed almost immune to a torrid early pace. We should also note that in addition to having Dr. Fager 4x5 in his pedigree, Shackleford also carries, through Oatsee, a double of In Reality whose dam, champion 2-year-old filly My Dear Girl, was the best daughter of Dr. Fager's sire Rough'n Tumble.