10/12/2011 2:52PM

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile better fit for Shackleford than Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Although the Breeders' Cup Classic is still under consideration, Shackleford is more likely to run in the BC Dirt Mile.

Though trainer Dale Romans still believes his Preakness winner Shackleford can be effective at 1 1/4 miles, he and owners Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge appear to be targeting the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile rather than the Breeders’ Cup Classic for their 3-year-old.

“The Dirt Mile is probably the way to go, the way we’re leaning anyway,’’ Romans said Wednesday morning at Belmont Park, where he paid a visit to his 30-horse stable. “It just fits him better right now.’’

Romans said the Classic hasn’t been totally ruled out, but noted that many of the horses pointing to the Classic, such as Game On Dude, Uncle Mo, and Tizway have a lot of early speed. Shackleford is a front-running type.

“It just looks like the best spot of the day for him,’’ Romans said of the Mile. “The Classic is going to be a super-tough race with a lot of speed in it.’’

Shackleford has been arguably the most durable of the 3-year-olds that competed this year, running nine times, including eight graded stakes. He was one of just three horses to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, winning the Preakness after running fourth in the Kentucky Derby before finishing fifth in the Belmont. After losing the Haskell Invitational by a neck to Coil, Shackleford finished eighth in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga. He bounced back with a decent second-place finish behind the up-and-coming Wilburn in the Indiana Derby on Oct. 1.

“He got beat by a very good horse that had a better trip than him,’’ Romans said.

Since the Indiana Derby, Shackleford has been at WinStar Farm near Lexington, Ky., getting a little rest and relaxation while remaining in light training. Romans said Shackleford was due to ship back to Churchill on Friday and return to the work tab on Oct. 22.

The Dirt Mile picked up a likely starter last weekend when Tapizar returned from an eight-month layoff to win a stakes-caliber second-level allowance race at Belmont Park. Making his first start in eight months, Tapizar won the seven-furlong race by 2 1/4 lengths over the 4-year-old stakes winner Uptowncharlybrown with Grade 1 winner Boys At Tosconova checking in third. Tapizar, who had a chip taken out of a knee following his fifth-place finish in the Robert Lewis at Santa Anita in February, ran seven furlongs in 1:21.20 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

After Tapizar was forced to miss the Kentucky Derby due to the knee chip, owner Ron Winchell said his goal became the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile if the horse, trained by Steve Asmussen, could make it.

“If he doesn’t regress we’ll move forward,’’ Winchell said. “I just hope having one prep race can get the job done.’’

Tapizar was ridden by Corey Nakatani in the allowance race, but will need a rider for the Breeders’ Cup since Nakatani is committed to ride Jackson Bend, who figures to be first or second choice in the race.