After a few weeks of NYRA bashing complete with Emperor Cuomo and New York State taking control of New York Racing, it was nice to change the focus of New York racing to where it should be-On the Track. For all the bad headlines about NYRA, about bad trainers and possible drugged horses, here was a Memorial Day which showed how good New York racing can be.
The topper of the day was the Met Mile, a small but spectacular field of 6 runners and run they did. How fitting was it that Shackleford was able to outlast a fast charging Caleb's Posse with a $1.33.30 winning time in the mile race. I love the Shack, and I'm a big fan of his trainer Dale Romans.
While other trainers hold back their horses and pick their spots, Romans does no such thing with the Shack. Shack, as Andy Serling stated on Monday's MSG Network coverage of the race, comes to the dance every time. In an era where critics abound and often state that horses are over raced, how come Shackleford shines under a very busy schedule? Maybe because he is a gifted animal who loves to work and compete. This is a horse who ran every leg of the Triple Crown series last year, something only two horses are trying this year (I'll Have Another and Optimizer). He also had a busy schedule in 2012, most recently a win in the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day.
Attendance was up also at Belmont Park, at a healthy 10,577 and total handle for the day was $14,444,665. So, racing is far from dead, especially in New York, where you can see the best horses run in the best races, despite what one may read from the critics. Now it's on to the Belmont Stakes, another big New York Day.
As for Shackleford, expect this gallant horse to show up next in Saratoga, looking to dance in the Whitney.