11/24/2012 1:19PM

Churchill Downs: Shackleford retires in style; Take Charge Indy's future up in the air

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Shackleford goes out a winner by going wire to wire in the Clark Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – While Shackleford strode off into the proverbial sunset by providing a storybook ending to his racing career Friday night in capturing the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, questions lingered the following day about whether the runner-up, Take Charge Indy, also is finished racing and headed for stud duty.

Trainer Pat Byrne gave no indication either way in saying a decision would be announced by midweek whether Take Charge Indy will go to Florida to point for a 4-year-old campaign or go instead to WinStar Farm, which bought the colt’s breeding rights earlier this year.

“He came out of the race super, so if he stays in training we’re in good shape that way,” Byrne said.

Take Charge Indy, making his second start since ankle surgery, had Calvin Borel aboard when giving primary chase to Shackleford before finishing a length shy of his older rival in the Grade 1 Clark.

Meanwhile, trainer Dale Romans said Saturday morning that he was “emotionally exhausted” from winning the Clark for the first time in dramatic fashion. But he quickly noted that he “better get over it soon” because he had 12 horses to run on Saturday’s Stars of Tomorrow program for 2-year-olds.

“It never ends in this game,” he said with his familiar sleepy-eyed grin.

There seems some sentiment that Shackleford may have clinched an Eclipse Award for Romans for top trainer in 2012 with his win.

“That’s out of my hands, and before I start making an argument for myself I’d need to see all the stats,” Romans said. “But there’s no question we’ve had a tremendous year.”

Shackleford, with Jesus Castanon aboard, was the 5-2 second choice as the 120-pound highweight in a field of nine in the 1 1/8-mile race. He finishes with more than $3 million in earnings from 20 career starts.

The win by Shackleford not only gave Romans wins in both the Falls City and Clark, but the 15-year-old blue hen mare, Oatsee, also was in on the sweep: She produced both the Falls City winner, Afleeting Lady (by Afleet Alex), and Shackleford (by Forestry).

The third-place Clark finisher, 3-year-old Bourbon Courage, will head soon to Fair Grounds and probably will point to the Feb. 23 Mineshaft at the New Orleans track, said Evan Downing, assistant to trainer Kellyn Gorder. Bourbon Courage encountered a bit of traffic under Leandro Goncalves before finishing well when beaten just a head for second.

Plans for the fourth Clark finisher, New York-bred Lunar Victory, were not available for confirmation Saturday from Kenny McCarthy, assistant to trainer Bill Mott. Lunar Victory was a surprise favorite at a lukewarm 5-2 when failing to make much impact when nearly eight lengths back of the winner.

The lone scratch from the race was Pool Play, winner of the 2011 Stephen Foster at Churchill. Trainer Mark Casse said the 7-year-old horse “just hadn’t been acting like himself” in the 48 hours or so approaching the race, and he erred on the side of caution in moving to scratch him.