01/05/2012 1:48PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Shackleford

Bob Coglianese

To merely look at Shackleford’s win percentage in 2011 would be missing the point. Fortunately, Eclipse Award voters didn’t miss.

Although he won just twice in 10 starts, Shackleford won the Preakness Stakes, was one of just three horses to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, and was around at the end of the year, when he finished second to another finalist in this division, Caleb’s Posse, in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. For both his tenacity and his consistency, Shackleford is one of the three finalists for the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

Shackleford was bred and is owned by Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge. They purchased his dam, Oatsee, for $135,000 in 2006 and sent her to the sire Forestry in the spring of 2007, which resulted in Shackleford’s birth in 2008. Shackleford was entered in the Keeneland yearling sale in September 2009 but did not bring his reserve and was bought back.

Shackleford began 2011 having won once in two starts at age 2, but his connections clearly had designs on the major events of the spring. And when Shackleford won a highly competitive first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park in February, it was time to give him a chance to make the classics.

But Shackleford failed miserably in his first test, the Fountain of Youth Stakes. Lacking the speed that came to be his calling card, Shackleford finished a distant fifth. It took a while for bettors to catch on that that was an aberration.

Shackleford was ignored at 68-1 in the Florida Derby and nearly pulled off a stunner, just failing to hold off Dialed In in the final strides while well clear of the rest of the field. That earned him a spot in the Kentucky Derby, in which Shackleford led for the first nine furlongs before fading late to finish fourth at odds of 23-1.

In the Preakness, in which he was 12-1, Shackleford got extremely washy in the humid conditions in Baltimore that day, but he ran the race of his life. He set a faster pace than in the Derby, and that seemed to energize him, for he bravely held off the Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, to give trainer Dale Romans and jockey Jesus Castanon their first victory in a Triple Crown race.

“I’ve won some big races, but none as exciting as that one,” Romans said. After finding the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont Stakes too far, Shackleford was freshened before returning in the Haskell, and he finished second to West Coast invader Coil. Following a dull try in the Travers, Shackleford was second in the Indiana Derby, then second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, completing an ambitious campaign that saw him compete at seven different tracks in six states over the space of nine months.

Following the Breeders’ Cup, Shackleford was given a freshening at Gold Mark Farm in Ocala, Fla., then headed to Gulfstream Park to begin 2012 at the same track where he began 2011. His early season goal, Romans said, is the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 11.


Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time BSF Video
11/5/11 CD Breeders Cup Dirt Mile 2nd 1 mile 1:34.59 103 Video
10/01/11 HOO Indiana Derby 2nd 1 1/16 mile 1:43:60 95 Video
8/27/11 SAR Travers 8th 1 1/4 mile 2:03:00 68 Video
7/31/11 MTH Haskell 2nd 1 1/8 mile 1:48:20 96 Video
6/11/11 BEL Belmont Stakes 5th 1 1/2 mile 2:30.88 91 Video
5/21/11 PIM Preakness 1st 1 3/16 mile 1:56.40 104 Video
5/7/11 CD Kentucky Derby 4th 1 1/4 mile 2:02.00 97 Video
4/3/11 GP Florida Derby 2nd 1 1/8 mile 1:50.00 93 Video
2/26/11 GP Fountain of Youth 5th 1 1/8 mile 1:50.20 58 Video


Breeder: Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owner: Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge
Record: 10-3-2-0
Best Beyer: 104

Tomlinson Distance Rating:   263

Auction: $275,000 RNA yearling (Keeneland, September 2009)
Dosage Profile: 6-13-9-0-2 (30)
Dosage Index: 3.62
Center of Distribution: 0.70