Preakness winner Shackleford could make his seasonal debut at GulfstreamPICTURE: Getty Images
Shackleford and Ruler On Ice set to clash
USA: Battle lines are being drawn for last year's Triple Crown principals, with the winners of all three legs due to make their comeback in February.
Shackleford and Ruler On Ice, winners respectively of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, are being targeted at the prestigious Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on February 11.
On the same card, Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom may return to action after injury in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Trainer Graham Motion is also eyeing a mile turf race at Meydan on February 16 as he prepares for a visit to the Dubai World Cup.
After winning the Belmont in June, Ruler On Ice made the frame in a succession of top races, including when third in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
According to the Daily Racing Form, he "dazzled the clockers" on Sunday when working five furlongs in 58.23s at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
"It was nice to see him show that kind of speed, because he needs to be a little closer to the pace, especially over this track at Gulfstream Park," trainer Kelly Breen told the Form.
"We're gearing him up for a victory the first time out and thinking about taking him to Dubai, if he performs well. The Donn is a big race for us, and that's why we're tightening the screws now."
Shackleford's first breeze of the year was just an easy half-mile on Sunday, the morning after Animal Kingdom worked in company with Grade 1-winning stablemate Toby's Corner at Motion's Maryland base. Both horses clocked 50.4s in a four-furlong spin on the dirt.
"The fact is the objective of racing him in February is to get a race into him," Motion said of Animal Kingdom.
Star filly Havre De Grace, a leading candidate for Horse of the Year honours at Monday's Eclipse Awards, is set to make her 2012 comeback at Fair Grounds in Louisiana, where she is stationed with trainer Larry Jones's team.
The New Orleans Ladies on March17 or the New Orleans Handicap a fortnight later have been mentioned.