Shackleford edged away from Amazombie in the very late stages of the $441,600 Churchill Downs S. (G2) for a one length victory after a stretch-long duel that left the rest of the field some six lengths behind at the wire. The win by the son of Forestry topped an all Taylor Made stallion exacta with Amazombie, by Northern Afleet, securing the place spot.
The seven-furlong Churchill Downs is the second graded stakes in Shackleford's career; the first coming in the 2011 Preakness S. (G1) after being beaten a couple lengths in that year's Kentucky Derby (G1).
Shackleford, who is based at the Louisville track with trainer Dale Romans, made the most of his familiar surroundings on Saturday. He pressed the rapid pace of Will's Wildcat down the backstretch, with Amazombie just to his outside. With Will's Wildcat giving way into the turn, Amazombie stuck his head in front. Shackleford fought right back, and the pair set down for a thrilling duel. Shackleford finally asserted himself inside the final sixteenth to get the distance in 1:21.06, just 3/5ths off the track record.
“This is special, I tell you. He’s the big horse in our barn. He’s the Grade I winner. He deserves to be back in the winner’s circle. It feels great. Every race he tries so hard. He had been in nine Grade Ones. He’s still the star of the barn.
“We’re going to keep him short for a little while now. Maybe we’ll try the Met Mile (Grade 1, May 28 at Belmont Park) next. He can do just about anything.”
The 4-year-old chestnut winner netted $265,578 for his owner/breeders Mike Lauffer and William Cubbedge, raising his lifetime total to $2,291,381 with a record of 15-4-4-1.