Updated on 06/07/2011 11:10AM

Belmont Stakes: Shackleford confirmed for race after Saturday workout

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Barbara D. Livingston
Preakness winner Shackleford, Tammy Fox aboard, works five furlongs in 1:00.37 over Belmont Park's main track Saturday morning.

ELMONT, N.Y. – If Dale Romans was looking for a reason not to run Preakness winner Shackleford in next Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, he certainly couldn’t find it watching the colt work Saturday morning over Belmont Park’s main track.

That’s why after Shackleford breezed five furlongs in 1:00.37, Romans confirmed him as a starter in the third leg of the Triple Crown, setting up a rubber match between Shackleford and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the 143rd Belmont.

“It’s a go,” Romans said at his Belmont barn immediately after talking by phone with co-owner Michael Lauffer. “As long as he comes out of the work good, he will run.”

SLIDESHOW: Shackleford vs. Animal Kingdom and other racing rivalries through the years »

That news was greeted with mixed emotions by Graham Motion, the trainer of Animal Kingdom, who was scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park Sunday morning in advance of a Monday workout over the main track.

“Personally, I’d rather he wasn’t in there,” Motion said by phone from the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. “Professionally, I think it’s great for the game. It’s a neat thing. It’s hopefully something that will keep interest in the series. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”

Of a third meeting with Animal Kingdom, Romans said, “It’ll be fun to have a little rivalry going.”

Derby and Preakness winners have clashed 21 times in the Belmont with the Preakness victor winning 10 times and the Derby winner capturing five Belmonts. The last time it happened was in 2005 when Preakness winner Afleet Alex won the Belmont while Derby winner Giacomo ran seventh.
Romans said he’s been looking forward to running Shackleford in the Belmont since the day after the Preakness. Romans said the colt “hasn’t missed a beat” since the Preakness and he just wanted to make sure the horse put in his “normal work” on Saturday.

Shackleford came onto the track at 9:02 a.m. under exercise rider Tammy Fox and jogged the wrong way back to the 7 1/2-furlong pole accompanied by a stable pony. After standing still for a few minutes, Shackleford turned around the right way, and quickly broke into a gallop before leaving the pony at the 5 1/2-furlong pole.

Leaving the five-furlong pole, Shackleford went in fractions of 12.47 seconds 24.51, and 36.11 for the first three furlongs, and he came home in 24.26 seconds with Fox barely asking him to run. Shackleford galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.13.

“I liked everything about the work,” Fox said. “Started off relaxed and finished up the last three sixteenths of a mile really good.’’

Animal Kingdom was scheduled to get his first feel for Belmont’s main track on Sunday morning. He was scheduled to arrive in New York around 7 a.m., according to Motion. He was then scheduled to gallop after the renovation break before breezing on Monday.

On Saturday, Animal Kingdom galloped 1 1/2 miles over the dirt surface at Fair Hill.

“He seems great,” Motion said. “I don’t see any difference in him than before the Preakness and before the Derby. It somewhat surprises me, really.”

Three other potential Belmont Stakes starters worked on Saturday. At Churchill Downs, Santiva worked five furlongs in 1:01, in company with Manx Miss. At Monmouth Park, Ruler On Ice worked five furlongs in 1:01, equipped with blinkers he will wear for the first time in the Belmont. At Belmont, Harlan’s Hello, who is only a possible starter at this point, went a half-mile in 51.77 seconds.

Churchill clockers caught Santiva in fractions of 13 seconds, 25.20, 36.90, and caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.40.

“The horse worked real well this morning, I’m very happy with him,” said trainer Eddie Kenneally, who added that Santiva would be flown here on Tuesday. “He’s on track. He’s done well since the Derby.”

At Monmouth, trainer Kelly Breen put a set of blinkers on Ruler On Ice and popped him out of the gate and liked what he saw in a five-furlong breeze that was the fastest of 23 at the distance.

“It wasn’t designed to be the fastest work of the day, but he came out of the gate and there were a couple of horses breezing ahead of him and he had to weave his way through them a little bit,” Breen said. “With the blinkers on he was focused, he finished up really strong. I’m excited to see if with the new blinkers I get everything out of him.”

Harlan’s Hello worked a slow half-mile in 51.77 seconds over Belmont’s main track. Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal said he would wait to make a decision on running until possibly entry day. Shivmangal did confirm that Rajiv Maragh, who worked Harlan’s Hello, would ride Isn’t He Perfect in the Belmont.

Also at Belmont Saturday, Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro galloped over the main track one day after arriving from Kentucky. Nehro, trained by Steve Asmussen, is scheduled to breeze Monday.

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