Shackleford, the popular 4-year-old by Forestry, finished his stellar career iwith a front-running, one-length victory over Take Charge Indy in Friday’s $447,000 Clark H. (G1) at Churchill Downs. Along with the 2011 Preakness S. and this year's Met Mile H. at Belmont Park, Shackleford retires a three-time Grade 1 winner.
With his final career earnings tally at $3,090,101, including $1,104,298 this year, Shackleford retires as Forestry's all-time leading earner. He is one of three seven-figure earners, along with Discreet Cat and A Shin F Danz, by the Taylor Made stallion.
In the 1 1/8-mile Clark, Shackleford broke on top from post three and took the field of nine through fractions of :24.31, :48.65 and 1:12.69. Take Charge Indy was reserved in second and prompted the winner while racing four wide on the final turn, but Shackleford kicked on and increased his advantage in mid-stretch. He gamely held off Take Charge Indy in the final furlong to cover the distance in 1:49.12 over a “fast” track.
Shackleford wound up his career with a mark of 6-5-1 in 20 starts, and in seven of those races he ran triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, including a 115 in the Met Mile. Besides his trio of Grade 1 victories, he also took this year's Grade 2 Churchill Downs H.
The flashy chestnut with the distinctive white blaze is out of the productive Unbridled mare Oatsee. She is also was the dam of Thursday’s Grade 2 Falls City H. winner Afleeting Lady, as well as Grade 1 winner Lady Joanne, multiple Grade 3 winner Baghdaria and the stakes winner Stephanoatsee.
Shackleford gave jockey Jesus Castanon, trainer Dale Romans and owners Mike Lauffer, Bill Cubbedge and Phillips Racing Partnership their first triumph in the Clark.
“That’s the way he’s supposed to leave,” said an emotional Romans. “He was very impressive today. That’s ‘Shack’ at his best.
“That’s the way I wanted to see him end his career. I’m very proud of him,” Romans continued. “This win was for him. It put him back in the winner’s circle before he left and let everyone know he’s still the same Shackleford he used to be.”
“I know what he likes to do and I put him in a spot where he wanted to be,” said Castanon, who rode Shackleford 14 times in his career. “He finished up strong. Once they let me open up, I knew he was going to last. I could have gone around again and I don’t think they would have gotten me. He would have just kept going.”
Prior to the Clark – his first start at a distance greater than one mile since finishing seventh in the Donn Handicap (GI) at Gulfstream Park in February – Shackleford finished a troubled seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) at Santa Anita at odds of 5-2.
In the coming days, Shackleford will be retired to Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky. for stud duty.
“He’s been very sound throughout his whole career and we’ve never ducked anyone,” said Lauffer, also co-breeder along with Cubbedge. “All his races have pretty much been Grade 1 or Grade 2 races and he’s as good right now as he’s ever been.”