Updated on 06/01/2012 1:54PM

Belmont: Shackleford by a nose over Caleb's Posse in Met Mile

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Shackleford (right) holds off Caleb's Posse to win the Metropolitan Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It took a Classic winner to win a classic renewal of the Metropolitan Handicap.

Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness winner, used his speed to secure a clear early advantage and then withstood the furious rally of Caleb's Posse to win Monday's Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap by a nose at steamy Belmont Park. It was three lengths back to 6-5 favorite To Honor and Serve in third.

Caixa Eletronica, Jackson Bend, and Saginaw completed the order of finish.

After losing seven consecutive races following his Preakness victory, Shackleford has found his niche in races run around one turn. He beat the defending sprint champion Amazombie in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs at seven furlongs on May 5 before beating a terrific field in Monday's Met Mile.

"We accomplished our major goal," said Dale Romans, who trains Shackleford for Michael Lauffer, William Cubbedge and Phillips Racing Partnership.

"This is a stallion's race. We wanted to win it from the beginning of the year. This is where we were pointed, didn't expect it to be this star-studded a field, but it's pretty rewarding to beat them all."

Shackleford became the first horse to win the Preakness at 3 and the Met Mile at 4 since Carry Back (1961-62). Victory in the Met Mile earned Shackleford a spot in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile as part of the Win and You're In program.

Velazquez, who was mired in a 3-for-60 slump at this meet entering Monday's card - and who was booed lustily after getting beaten on odds-on favorite Awesome Maria in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps - picked up the mount on Shackleford after Jesus Castanon suffered a hand injury a couple of weeks ago.

Riding to instructions, Velazquez put Shackleford on the lead, but had to run a half-mile in 44.73 seconds to do it.

"I was comfortable with the way he was doing it," Velazquez said.

Shackleford was being chased by Jackson Bend and To Honor and Serve.

Shackleford kept on cruising through six furlongs in 1:08.52. In upper stretch, Jackson Bend was done and To Honor and Serve, though he got running room at the three-sixteenths pole, offered no punch.

But Caleb's Posse, a tough-luck loser of the Tom Fool and Carter handicaps at Aqueduct earlier this year, was coming with his bid down the center of the track under Rajiv Maragh.

Velazquez said he could see the shadow of someone coming, so he jetted Shackleford out so that he could see Caleb's Posse. Regardless of whether he saw him or not, Shackleford's nose hit the wire first. He ran a mile in 1:33.30 and returned $8.80.

"I saw the shadow coming so I had to go real far out to get him," Velazquez said. "I was wondering if somebody was in between and was thinking if nobody was there I was going to go straight out, and that's what made me win because when I came out, he put up a fight."

Said Romans: "It was the race of the year and it was exciting to be a part of it win, lose or draw. With all those good horses, as fast as they ran, to be a nose apart at the wire I think it lived up to the hype."

It was third straight race in which Caleb's Posse came up short with a huge late run. He was beaten a neck in the Tom Fool and a nose in the Carter.

"This horse just runs so hard every time and it's real unfortunate to lose a race like this by such a short margin as good as he ran," Maragh said. "The track has been fast all day and it seemed like it was a speed bias."

To Honor and Serve, the 8-5 favorite off wins in the last year's Cigar Mile and last month's Westchester, had no running room early and could not kick on when he got clear.

"An unlikely horse was keeping us in," said To Honor and Serve's trainer Bill Mott, referring to Jackson Bend. "Somebody I didn't expect to be even close to the pace. He was probably willing to get up there and challenge the leader down the backside, but he couldn't do it because he was kind of being held in."

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry Mr. Romans but the PREAKNESS was the race of the year so far. The MetMile was an awesome race though. CP and Shac both ran huge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Depends on how much one bets on a race proposition. After seeing this horse's last seven furlong race, a price of 4-1 ML (and went off that as well) and hooking him up in exotics, and picks, it was very, very exciting. The horse ran every 5th of a second perfectly and it would have been a shame if he had been nosed at the wire. Further, it depends on if one wins. Glad you enjoyed the Preakness. Can't wait until the Belmont Stks. I do not think we will see a TC winner, as I also did not with Big Brown. Will go after exoctics. Last year Animal Kingdom was bumped. I hope IHA does not draw near Optimizer who crowds and bumps. There are a few other horses in the race who may just cause havoc due to their greeness.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Big Brown was too lightly raced, never tested going into the Belmont Stakes. If they had given him valuable experience like in the Haskell and the Monmouth Stakes, he was impressive and showed a different dimension in both of them, I think we probably would have had a triple crown winner. I don't understand all the Big Brown haters. I thought that was a very talented colt. It was very disappointing that he did not get to run against Curlin, or in the BC Classic. Big Brown could have stamped himself as a great horse by beating Curlin on dirt or by winning the BC Classic. Judging from the way the Santa Anita ProRide was playing that year, it would have been an easier task beating Curlin on dirt. Judging from the extraordinary results of horses with turf pedigree finished in the slop at Belmont on Jockey Cup Gold Cup day in 2008 (Cocoa Beach dominating Ginger Punch in the Beldame, Black Seventeen outfinishing Fabulous Strike and Kodiak Kowboy in the Vosburgh, Wanderin Boy close 2nd in the JCGC), I would have loved Big Brown's chances against Curlin in the JCGC.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Some horses break so alertly that they never get bumped at the start, A few of them appear to be able to sense the mind of the gate crew. They were already bolting split seconds before the gates are sprung. Check out Silver Max. A couple of years ago I saw Majesticperfection at Oaklawn and Saratoga. This horse broke like a bat out of hell. I'll Have Another is almost like that. He always breaks well yet controllable (well maybe Mario figured out how to harness that speed because Rosario didn't), Even in the slop in the G1 Hopeful at Saratoga, he did not break badly but he hesitated for whatever reason - it could be the slop, it could be the 7f chute at Saratoga, or maybe even because Leparoux not preparing him well right out of the gate. He was quickly urged to run along and appeared to get over the slop very well before Leparoux decided to take back and head for the rail. I expect a clean break and a perfect trip for I'll Have Another who would finish a close second in dramatic fashion. I will be pounding $10k IHA to place and $2500 Union Rags WP and the rest exotics (basis: 100 doses cause I have no idea how much $$ I will have left besides the $15k that I will put aside): - exacta box (15 doses each way 30 doses total): IHA/UR - exacta box (7 doses each way 14 doses total): IHA/Paynter - exacta box (3 doses each way 6 doses total): IHA/Unstoppable U - exacta boxes (2 doses each way 8 doses total): IHA/Ravelo's Boy and IHA/Five Sixteen - trifecta with IHA in 1st and 2nd, UR and Paynter in all 3 positions plus one of these in 2nd and 3rd (1 dose each way 42 doses total): Unstoppable U, Ravelo's Boy, Five Sixteen Looking to at least break even, maybe triple my $$
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
WOW! That big, long head got Shackleford to the wire first. They were shoulder to shoulder at the wire. What a race!
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Eeew...please refrain from saying something dirty in these forums.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Caleb's Posse has run 105, 106, 111, 110, 109, 115 beyer speed figure with Rajiv Maragh. His top beyer was 92 with other jockeys and he had run numerous one turn races before Rajiv. Occasionally he did not even fire, but he has fired every time with Rajiv at the helm. I think Donnie von Hemel should try him in one more 8.5f or 9f two turn races with Rajiv before calling him a one turn horse conclusively.
Averie Levanti More than 1 year ago
I think if he keeps it up he could go for championship...If only they had a championship for milers. Shack finally got his revenge against Caleb's Posse and he well deserves it. The horse runs his heart out every time. He has the determination of a champion. Even though Caleb ran a flawless race Shackleford just wasn't willing to give up and made sure his nose was there first. Truly spectacular racehorse
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
No excuses, but I think Rajov may have stopped riding a little bit. I was right there in owner's box E9. A lot of other people made the same mistake. I had already put away my binoculars, Tom Durkin was ready to call Caleb's Posse the winner, Rajiv hand rode the final yards and not even hard ridden, while Johnny V gave Shackleford a final left-handed crack that enabled him to hold on. It also helped that Shackleford was a much bigger horse, check out the slow motion replay his head alone looked a foot longer.
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
Yeah, I think Rajiv has ridden this horse well, but we ALL thought CP was going by him. I'm not a big Johnny V fan these days, but he gave Shack some ride. That left-handed whip, and coming out just a tiny bit when they were head to head was a thing of beauty - that was Johnny V. at his prime, back in the day.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Okay , about this Iron Horse Shacleford! Plain and simple horse fans, he is the best sprinter in America. Guts, Guts , and more Guts. I have been following Shackleford since his dissapointing two turn Allowance race at Gulfstream and then to follow with a sensational defeat in the Florida Derby at 70/1 odds . In his triple crown races you just knew, Well I knew that Shackleford was a true ONE TURN racehorse.I know he won the Preakness, but that day he was just better that day period. Dale Romans I just wish you really know that this is a 1 turn Miler at most and not a step further> As a 3yo , I couldnt beleive that there was really no talk about him being 3yo champ, Come on , he was the 3yo champ in my eyes. Now as a 4 yo, Horse of the Year honor he will not be taken lightly Billy from Boston
Skip Ean More than 1 year ago
I'm a Shack fan all the way because of his spirit and determination, but Caleb's Posse is another great horse and I have to agree with other posters here that he does need a new jockey. Look what it did for Shack.
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
Well, Shack didn't win because of Johnny V. - Jesus always did a great job on this horse. It was probably tough for him to watch yesterday. He's a solid jock, and I can't really say he ever made a mistake on Shack.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I don't know about that. Caleb's Posse ran 105, 106, 111, 110, 109, 115 beyer speed figure with Rajiv Maragh. His top beyer was 92 with other jockeys and he had run numerous one turn races before Rajiv. Occasionally he did not even fire, but he has fired every time with Rajiv at the helm. I think Donnie von Hemel should try him in one more 8.5f or 9f two turn races with Rajiv before calling him a one turn horse conclusively.
Vincent Condeni More than 1 year ago
The Metro Mile was th best race of the Year! I'm not sure the best Horse won. Although the Best Jockey did. JV simply out rode his rivals including CP's Jock! I did bet S to WIn and caught the Exacta. They bot had the same Systems Number but JV made the difference. CP needs a new Jockey. His ride caused CP betters to hold a losing Win ticket! Let's hope they both stay Healthy and in Form. They should tangle again at Sar, and hopefully the BC Dirt Mile.
Big Brown More than 1 year ago
No animal kingdom here!! Is shackelford kingdom for now!! Getting better and stronger as a 4yrs old..
jon More than 1 year ago
115 is the beyer. CP's connections are the unluckiest i have seen in sometime. Shackleford deserves all the credit, but CP is the best horse in training right now. Run's big everytime he gets on the track. Just a bit unlucky
Jack More than 1 year ago
Unlucky to say the least,his last 3 BSF are 115 110 and 109 and theyre all loses !
Rich Carrizzo More than 1 year ago
Bottom Line: Shack is the MAN!!!!!!! Just start giving him his props. This wasn't about any other horse not performing. This was Shack showing everyone he is the BEST right now!!
Gee More than 1 year ago
Romans finally has him on the right course.
Rich Carrizzo More than 1 year ago
He sure does! He should be getting him ready for the BC now. So, i'd suspect he gets some time off then a prep prior to the BC race.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Romans already said that they will try 2 turns and/or 9f again. It will be: - G2 Monmouth Cup at MTH or G2 Suburban at BEL on 7/7 - G1 Whitney at SAR first Saturday of August - G1 Forego at SAR first Saturday of September - G1 Pacific Classic at Santa Anita as a prep for the Breeders Cup. If Shack dominates in the Pacific Classic, they will strongly consider the BC Classic. It is very likely that Shack could carry his speed 10f at Santa Anita. Otherwise it will be the Dirt Mile.