10/10/2012 5:37PM

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: Romans sees Shackleford as having right setup

Michael Amoruso
Shackleford figures as one of the favorites in the Dirt Mile.

Dale Romans said Shackleford, one of the top contenders for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, will be among his Saturday workers at Churchill Downs before his sizable Breeders’ Cup contingent leaves two days later on a charter flight to California.

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Romans said this week he is extremely pleased with all his BC hopefuls, and Shackleford in particular, as these final weeks wind down. Shackleford, an earner of more than $2.8 million, rebounded from one of his worst lifetime efforts in the Vanderbilt by finishing second in the Sept. 29 Kelso Mile at Belmont Park.

“The Kelso should set him up just right, I think,” he said. “He ran on real well, and I can sense he’s coming back to peak form.”

Shackleford figures as one of the favorites in the Dirt Mile, along with Emcee, winner of the Forego, and Jersey Town, winner of the Kelso Mile. At this early juncture, it looks as if perhaps 10 or so 3-year-olds and upward will enter, although clearly that is subject to change as the Breeders’ Cup nears.

One would-be contender is Fed Biz, the beaten favorite behind Neck ’n Neck and Bourbon Courage in the Indiana Derby last Saturday, although trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday he “won’t know until next week” whether the colt will be pointed to the Dirt Mile.

In addition, another Southern California 3-year-old, Nonios, is iffy for the race, according to Jerry Hollendorfer, who also is considering the BC Classic. Also, trainer Ron Ellis is taking something of a wait-and-see approach with Rail Trip, who has an automatic berth by virtue of his victory in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.

One definite defection from the Dirt Mile is The Lumber Guy, the Vosburgh winner whose trainer, Mike Hushion, is opting instead for the BC Sprint.

Also, trainer Ian Wilkes said Neck ’n Neck “isn’t ready yet” for Breeders’ Cup-caliber competition and will wait instead for the Nov. 23 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Also, trainer Todd Pletcher said plausible candidates Dominus and Caixa Eletronica both are “unlikely” for the Dirt Mile.