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By Ron Mitchell, @BH_SaleUpdates, Blood-Horse

Shackleford led from start to finish and the 4-year-old son of Forestry held off a fast-closing Caleb's Posse to win the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park May 28.

Trained by Dale Romans for owners Mike Lauffer, Bill Cubbedge, and Phillips Racing, the 2011 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner scored his second consecutive graded win.

With jockey John Velazquez aboard for the first time, Shackleford set fast fractions of :22.77, :44.73, and 1:08.52. Caleb’s Posse and jockey Rajiv Maragh began to move rounding the turn, going from 10 lengths back while racing on the outside to turn in a gallant effort that just came up short.

The final time of 1:33.30 was not far off the track record of 1:32 1/5.

Shackleford, who went through a seven-race drought following his Preakness win before taking the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) previous to the Metropolitan, returned $8.80, $4.80, and $3.10. Caleb’s Posse paid $3.70 and $2.50, with favored To Honor and Serve paying $2.30 for third. Caixa Eletronica was fourth, followed by Jackson Bend and Saginaw.

“He beat the best today,” said Romans. “It’s as good a race as we’ve seen in a long time. He laid it all on the line. This was our goal from the beginning of the year. He’s as gutsy as they come. Hopefully, he’ll get the credit he deserves. He’s a spectacular hose.”

With the victory, Shackleford earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita in the fall, a race in which he finished second, four lengths behind Caleb’s Posse, in 2011.

Produced from the Unbridled mare Oatsee, Shackleford was bred in Kentucky by Lauffer and Cubbedge.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

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