NEW YORK (AP) — Shackleford is in place to run in the Belmont Stakes, arriving in New York on Monday after an overnight van ride from Louisville, Ky.
A shorter trip — around the 1½-mile oval at Belmont Park on Wednesday — may determine whether the Preakness winner will compete in the final leg of the Triple Crown in a rubber match against Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
“He looks good,” trainer Dale Romans’ assistant, Scotty Everett, said as Shackleford was walked off the van and into his barn. “We are excited to have him here at Belmont.”
Romans, still at Churchill Downs, said Shackleford would be walked around the barn Tuesday before going to the track Wednesday. The trainer wants to make sure the 3-year-old colt is in top condition before committing to the Belmont.
Last week, Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion confirmed the Derby winner would run in the Belmont on June 11 and arrive in New York early next week. The colt is training at Motion’s base at Fair Hill in Elkton, Md.
Shackleford finished fourth in the Derby on May 7 after leading in the stretch; Animal Kingdom was a close second in the Preakness two weeks later.
If Shackleford runs, it will be the 20th time — first since 2005 — that the Derby and Preakness winners competed in the Belmont. In ’05, Preakness winner Afleet Alex beat Derby winner Giacomo.
Among the other contenders are Derby runners Nehro (second), Mucho Macho Man (third, sixth in Preakness), Master of Hounds (fifth), Santiva (sixth), Brilliant Speed (seventh) and Stay Thirsty (12th), as well as Harlan’s Hello, Isn’t He Perfect (ninth, Preakness), Monzon, Prime Cut and Ruler On Ice.
Nehro, beaten 2¾ lengths in the Derby, worked out Monday at Churchill Downs, zipping six furlongs in 1:12.20 under exercise rider Carlos Rosas.
“I was very pleased with the move,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “It was the best work I’ve seen him lay down.”
Asmussen said Nehro likely will be sent to New York on Thursday, with a final workout set for early next week.