05/22/2011 9:33AM

Preakness winner Shackleford likely to face Animal Kingdom again in Belmont Stakes

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Shackleford arrivies at Churchill Downs on Sunday after a short van ride from the Louisville airport. Trainer Dale Romans says the Preakness winner is better than 50-50 to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

BALTIMORE – Shackleford, who won the 136th Preakness Stakes on Saturday, came out of the race well, and his chances of running in the Belmont Stakes on June 11 are “better than 50-50,” his trainer, Dale Romans, said Sunday morning here at Pimlico.


The possibility that Shackleford could run in the Belmont keeps, for now, the hope alive that both he and Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who finished second in the Preakness, will meet in the final leg of the Triple Crown, which would be a compelling story line to a race now devoid of a Triple Crown quest.

“I think it would be great if we could develop a little bit of a rivalry in the 3-year-old division,” Romans said. “I think these 3-year-olds are better than most people realize.”

Romans on Saturday night contemplated sending Shackleford straight to Belmont Park, where he has a division this spring, but he re-considered by Sunday morning and instead had Shackleford flown back to Kentucky, where Romans is based at Churchill Downs.

“I want to go over him a couple of days there and then make a decision,” he said, referring to the Belmont. Romans said Shackleford would run in the Belmont “if he trains like he did coming out of the Derby.”

Shackleford, a son of Forestry, finished fourth in the Derby.

Romans said he received 250 text messages following the race, but had yet to return any.

“That’s today’s project,” he said.

Romans said one of the only calls he answered following the Preakness was from Frank Taylor of Taylor Made Farm.

“Frank told me that if I won a Grade 1 with a Forestry, I had free meals for life at Malone’s,” Romans said, referring to a popular Lexington, Ky., steakhouse. “I answered that one.”

In addition to Shackleford and Animal Kingdom, the only other Preakness runner currently under serious consideration for the Belmont is Mucho Macho Man, who finished sixth despite losing his left front shoe during the race. Mucho Macho Man was wearing glue-on shoes. Mucho Macho Man lost his right front shoe in the Louisiana Derby, at which time his shoes were affixed with nails.

Nehro, who finished second in the Derby but skipped the Preakness, is the most prominent horse laying in wait for the Belmont. Master of Hounds, who finished fifth in the Derby, and Santiva, who was sixth, are others under consideration for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont after bypassing the Preakness.

Alternation, the Peter Pan winner, and Prime Cut are amongst those pointing for the Belmont who did not run in either the Derby or Preakness.