Shackleford: last year's Preakness winner held on in exciting Met MilePICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Jessie Holmes
Shackleford scores in Met Mile thriller
Report: USA, Monday
Belmont Park: Metropolitan Hcap (Grade 1) 1m, dirt, 3yo+
LAST year's Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford (Dale Romans/John Velazquez) just held the late-running Caleb's Posse to win a thrilling Met Mile at Belmont on Monday.
The hard-knocking four-year-old, who made every yard in the $750,000 contest, looked sure to be overwhelmed as Caleb's Posse closed from the rear in customary fashion in the final furlong.
On a speed-favouring track, Shackleford stuck his neck out gamely to edge out the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner and score from probably the best group of older horses assembled so far this year in the States.
Sent off just over a 34-10 chance, Shackleford's final time was a laudable 1m33.30s after early fractions of 22.77s and 44.73s.
The official winning margin was a nose, meaning that Caleb's Posse has now been beaten in a photo on each of three starts this season. The favourite To Honor And Serve was third.
Future plans for Shackleford are undecided but he is likely to knock heads again with Caleb's Posse according to winning trainer Dale Romans.
"These two have had a good rivalry," said Romans. "It's their fourth time against each other, and they're 2-2. Caleb's Posse is a great horse, and it's a good rivalry. Let's see each other again.
"It was the race of the year, and it's exciting to have been part of it, win, lose, or draw, with all of those good horses. And it lived up to its billing. To be a nose apart at the wire, I think it lived up to the hype."
Also on Monday
Belmont Park: Ogden Phipps Hcap (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
Godolphin welcomed their third top-level winner of 2012 as It's Tricky (Kiaran McLaughlin/Eddie Castro) rounded off a hat-trick this season by wearing down front-running Cash For Clunkers in the last half-furlong.
Odds-on favourite Awesome Maria, forced to sit off the pace, could never land a telling blow from three wide as she attempted to complete back-to-back victories in the $400,000 event.
Four-year-old It's Tricky, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, was returned just over 2-1 as she stopped the clock at 1m41.73s in a three-quarter-length victory.
The daughter of Mineshaft was winning her third Grade 1 event after last year's victories in the Acorn Stakes and the CCA Oaks. "She's a special filly," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Godolphin already had two Group 1 winners on the board this term via Monterosso and Capponi in Dubai.
Belmont Park: Acorn Stakes (Grade 1) 1m, dirt, 3yo fillies
After winning her previous three starts by a cumulative 17 lengths, Contested (Bob Baffert/Javier Castellano) went wire-to-wire with a five-length victory on her first outing in Grade 1 company.
She was sent off a shade better than even-money and her supporters had few worries as she enjoyed an uncontested lead.