07/30/2012 1:34PM

Saratoga: Shackleford cutting back for Vanderbilt Handicap

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Tom Keyser
Shackleford will race at six furlongs for the first time in Sunday's Grade 1, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Shackleford has run 16 times at seven different distances, but has never run at six furlongs.

That will change Sunday, when the dual Grade 1-winning Shackleford will run in the Grade 1, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga at six furlongs.

Shackleford, not an original nominee to the Vanderbilt, had to be supplemented to the race by Monday for $8,000. Weights for the race were scheduled to be released later Monday afternoon.

Trainer Dale Romans and owners Michael Lauffer, William Cubbedge, and John Phillips decided to use the Vanderbilt to prepare for the Grade 1 Forego here Sept. 1. The Forego is run at seven furlongs, a distance at which Shackleford has won at twice, including the Churchill Downs on May 5 where he defeated defending sprint champion Amazombie, who won Sunday’s Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar.

“Looking at the big picture, I’m working him anyway, might as well get a race into him going into the Forego and for the rest of the fall,” Romans said. “He likes to run.”

Shackleford won the Preakness at 1 3/16 miles and has twice won at the one-mile distance, including the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 28, his last start.

Asked if he felt Shackleford could be effective going six furlongs, Romans said, “I think he’s fast enough for it.”

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Romans said it took Shackleford longer than usual to rebound from his victory in the Met Mile. Romans decided to keep the horse running in shorter-distanced races for the foreseeable future.

Shackleford has been training at Churchill Downs, where on Saturday he went a half-mile in 48.20 seconds over the main track.

Shackleford will be flown from Kentucky to New York on Thursday.

Others expected for the Vanderbilt are Emcee, Hamazing Destiny, Jersey Town, Justin Phillip, and Rothko.