by Alastair Bull
For the second year in a row, a son of Shackleford has won an important Kentucky Derby lead-up race. And like last year, the big question is whether that son will have enough stamina to last 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs.
Promises Fulfilled, from the second crop of Shackleford, became the fifth stakes winner for his sire when leading all the way in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, proving too strong for Swale Stakes (G3) winner Strike Power and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) victor Good Magic.
Last year, Malagacy was the son of Shackleford who made his mark on the Derby trail, improving to 3-for-3 with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park. But despite his victory that day, doubts remained about his stamina and seemed to be confirmed when he finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in mid-April. Malagacy wound up bypassing the Kentucky Derby and the same stamina questions are now being posed for Promises Fulfilled.
Shackleford’s greatest moment came when winning the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes (G1), but he was best between a mile and 1 1/8 miles during the rest of his career. The front-runner posted other notable victories in the one-mile Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and the 1 1/8-mile Clark Handicap (G1). He also finished second in five graded stakes races, including the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and the Florida Derby (G1).
Stamina concerns exist on Promises Fulfilled’s distaff side as well. His dam, Marquee Delivery (Marquetry), won five races and placed in the 1 1/8-mile Arlington Oaks (G3). Her progeny include Marquee Miss (Cowboy Cal), a winner of three stakes races at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile.
Promises Fulfilled races in a very similar manner to his sire on the front end. To date his career has been very good: after capturing his debut over six furlongs at Churchill Downs, he won a seven-furlong allowance at Keeneland and then suffered his only defeat finishing third to Enticed and Tiz Mischief in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
On pedigree, there are some doubts surrounding Promises Fulfilled’s ability to stay 1 ¼ miles. But he was as strong as any of the runners at the finish of the Fountain of Youth Stakes and with one more prep scheduled at 1 1/8 miles, we’ll continue to gauge how he performs while stretching out in distance in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
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