02/21/2011 2:48PM

2011 Kentucky Derby: Under the Radar - Shackleford

Bob Coglianese
Shackleford wins an entry-level allowance race at nine furlongs on Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park.

What should one look for in an “Under the Radar” 3-year-old?

The blossoming colt must be underrated.

He must have shown potential at some point during his young career, preferably in a two-turn route race.

And, he must have a pedigree that is geared toward the demanding 1 1/4 miles of the Kentucky Derby.

Using those criteria, Shackleford looks like a no-brainer for our growing list of Radar Runners.

Bred and owned by Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge, Shackleford was foaled on Feb. 25, 2008 in Kentucky. His sire, Forestry, was a brilliant racer, winning 7 of 12 starts, including the Grade 1 King’s Bishop going seven furlongs at Saratoga with a 116 Beyer Speed Figure. By the great stallion Storm Cat, Forestry scored at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs (San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita) to 1 1/16 miles (Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont).

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Shackleford’s dam, Oatsee, by Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled, won twice sprinting and finished third in the $100,000 Supertrack Racing Series Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream.

Oatsee’s dam, With Every Wish, was a solid miler, placing in a pair of stakes races on grass at Hawthorne. With Every Wish’s half-brother, Amos, won the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at a mile and 70 yards at Calder.

The third dam is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner (and millionaire) Tappiano, while the fourth dam, Taminette, is a full sister to Known Fact, a half-sister to Tentam, and a half-sister to the talented Gone West.

Let it not be said that the class in Shackleford’s family only exists in the deep recesses of the pedigree page as Oatsee has already foaled a pair of top-shelf performers. Shackleford’s half-sister Lady Joanne earned $987,094 and successfully stretched her speed to 1 1/4 miles when winning the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes in 2007. Another half-sister, Baghdaria, took a pair of Grade 3 races at 1 1/16 miles.

Shackleford was entered in the 2008 Keeneland September yearling auction but failed to meet his reserve price after the hammer dropped at $275,000.

The following year, Shackleford made his career debut on Oct. 16 during the Keeneland fall meeting. Dismissed at 25-1 odds in the second, and slower, division of maiden special weights for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs, Shackleford broke well and pressed the early leaders while four wide. He dropped back a bit late on the backstretch and was in behind horses from the quarter pole to upper stretch. Once clear, he finished evenly for ninth. Although it never looked like he was going to win the Polytrack event, Shackleford gained valuable experience racing in behind horses.

Shackleford put it all together in his next start, a seven-furlong maiden special weight on dirt at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27. Again, he wasn’t taken seriously by bettors, ending up at 25-1 odds. He bobbled a bit breaking from post 11 and lightly brushed with the rival directly to his inside. To his credit, Shackleford hustled up to battle for the early lead while in between horses. He cleared to the rail entering the turn, but soon met a pair of challenges. Shackleford switched to his right lead on cue in upper stretch but was passed by Ballyclough. Changing back to his left lead with a furlong remaining, Shackleford re-rallied to the head of affairs and again switched legs nearing the wire. He was a game winner of a hard-fought stretch duel.

Three also-rans returned from that race to graduate next-out, including third-place finisher Majestic Harbor, a 6 1/4-length winner of a Fair Grounds maiden with a 79 Beyer Speed Figure.

Trainer Dale Romans sent Shackleford to Florida to prepare for his 3-year-old campaign, and the chestnut colt with the long stripe down his face was entered right off the bat in an entry-level allowance at nine furlongs on Feb. 5.

Ridden by Jesus Castanon, Shackleford prompted the moderate pace while two wide. He emerged with the lead at the quarter pole but again raced greenly. He didn’t switch to his right lead until midstretch and soon after that, he drifted in and hopped to his left leg. Shackleford did hold off the late ralliers to win with an 89 Beyer.

Shackleford’s faults are obvious. He is as green as the Grinch, especially with his lead changes. If he doesn’t rectify that situation quickly, it’s hard to imagine him competing with the big boys in the division. Still, he has potential, is in the hands of an excellent horseman, and shows an affinity for the Gulfstream oval. His next start is scheduled for Saturday in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream. It could be a make-or-break race for the youngster as he attempts to score valuable graded stakes earnings.