09/28/2011 1:32PM

Hoosier Park: Shackleford, Caleb's Posse top Indiana Derby field of eight

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Barbara D. Livingston
Shackleford (above) drew post 7 and Caleb's Posse got post 6 in a field of eight for Saturday's Grade 2 Indiana Derby.

ANDERSON, Ind. – Preakness winner Shackleford was assigned post 7 and Caleb’s Posse drew alongside in post 6 when a field of eight 3-year-olds was assembled Wednesday for the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby, the Hoosier Park showcase to be run Saturday for the 17th time.

Shackleford and Caleb’s Posse will be coming in with disparate form when they clash in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby. Shackleford tired badly to finish eighth in the Grade  1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug.  27, just 30 minutes after Caleb’s Posse posted a second straight Saratoga stakes score by surging past Uncle Mo in the Grade  1 King’s Bishop.

INDIANA DERBY: DRF handicapping preview, watch Saturday's card live »

“Obviously that wasn’t his best,” said Dale Romans, who will send Shackleford here early Saturday from his Churchill Downs base in Louisville. “I like the way he’s come back around. Judging from the way he’s picked his head back up, we’ll drive up to Indianapolis with some high hopes Saturday.”

This is the second straight year the Preakness winner will run in the Indiana Derby. Last year, Lookin At Lucky prevailed as a 2-5 favorite before ultimately being voted 3-year-old champion.

From the rail and with riders, this is the Indiana Derby field: Decisive Moment, Daniel Centeno; Little Drama, Jeffrey Sanchez; Populist Politics, Gerard Melancon; Friends Place, Martin Pedroza; Windswept, Corey Lanerie; Caleb’s Posse, Robby Albarado; Shackleford, Jesus Castanon; and Wilburn, Julien Leparoux.

Friends Place, making his stakes debut, also is trained by Romans and will race coupled with Shackleford for wagering purposes.

Caleb’s Posse is scheduled to van here after training Friday morning at Arlington Park, said his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel.

The Indiana Derby, the last of 12 races, anchors easily the richest day of racing in the state each year. The secondary feature is the Grade  2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks (race 11), which drew A Z Warrior, Nasty Rumor, and Daisy Devine among a field of six 3-year-old fillies.

Two other $100,000 open stakes, the Schaefer and Mary George memorials, help round out a terrific card, along with six $84,000 statebred races carded early in the day. First post will be 12:30 p.m. Eastern, with the Indiana Derby set for 6:15.

While gray skies and a steady drizzle hovered over this seven-furlong track early Wednesday, the forecast called for intermittent rain through Friday before turning mostly sunny for raceday, when high temperatures will only reach the mid-50s.

HRTV will have a daylong presence here with Peter Lurie as onsite host.