Outstanding Trainer: Dale Romans
by Frank Angst
Date Posted: 1/19/2013 9:27:31 PM
Last Updated: 1/20/2013 8:38:23 PM
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
There are grade I races and there are grade I races--the races trainers see themselves winning in the most pleasant of dreams. In knocking down several races from the latter category in 2012, Dale Romans landed his first Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer.
Shackleford , who in 2011 secured Romans' first classic win, won two more grade I races in 2012 including the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. Dullahan won a top Triple Crown prep race in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) then in the summer nailed down the richest West Coast race for older horses, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar (gr. I). And with Little Mike, Romans picked up three of the greatest U.S. turf races (all gr. IT): the Breeders' Cup Turf, Arlington Million, and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes.
Details of these wins only flatter Romans' accomplishments. Shackleford is the first classic winner to take the Met Mile since Arts and Letters in 1969. Conquistador Cielo won the Met Mile in 1982 before winning the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Little Mike is the first U.S.-based horse to win the Arlington Million and Breeders' Cup Turf in the same year. Dullahan is the first 3-year-old to win the Pacific Classic since Came Home in 2002.
Romans boasted four horses with more than one grade I victory in 2012 as Little Mike won three, Dullahan two, Shackleford two--closing his career with a Clark Handicap win--and Tapitsfly with two.
Based in Kentucky and New York, Romans successfully shipped all over the country. His 27 stakes wins came at 12 different tracks. While Romans competes on a national level, Little Mike's owner/breeder Carlo Vaccarezza said the 46-year-old conditioner from Louisville maintains a personal touch.
"Other trainers seem to get upset if you call them once a week. All they want to tell you is when your horse has been entered," Vaccarezza said. "I discuss everything with Dale: when the horse is going to ship, who's going to ride him."
Because Romans has developed a family atmosphere, Vaccarezza said he has made relationships with Shackleford co-owner Mike Lauffer and Tapitsfly owner Frank Jones Jr.
"We sit together at races. We all wish each other the best," Vaccarezza said.
In 2012 many of those wishes came true for Romans.
Dale Romans 119
Todd Pletcher 87
Bob Baffert 35
Chad Brown 2
Bill Mott 2
Jamie Ness 2
Doug O'Neill 2
Steve Asmussen 1
Ian Wilkes 1
Voter Abstentions 3
Copyright © 2013 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Shackleford ends his career with victory in Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap
Shackleford ends his career with victory in Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap
Shackleford (rail) held off Take Charge Indy (far outside) and Bourbon Courage to win the Clark Handicap in his career finale. Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Friday’s $447,000 Clark Handicap was as much Grade I race as it was retirement party and lovefest for triumphant Shackleford, who concluded a glorious career with a front-running length victory over the 3-year-old Take Charge Indy in the twilight at Churchill Downs.
“That’s the way he’s supposed to leave,” said trainer Dale Romans. “That’s Shack at his best.”
Shackleford, whose older half-sister Afleeting Lady won Thursday’s Grade II Falls City, retires with a record of 6-5-1 in 20 starts, earning $3,090,101 and the well-deserved reputation of never taking the easier route while winning from seven furlongs to 1 3/16 miles. His victories include this year’s Metropolitan Handicap by a nose and the Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby Day.
It was Shackleford’s third victory in five starts under the Twin Spires and his most important, though his fourth-place finish after setting testing fractions in the 2011 Kentucky Derby signaled the striking chestnut as a major player. Two weeks later Shackleford won the Preakness Stakes amid a season where he made most of the premier 3-year-old races, finishing with a second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
In fact, it was his disappointing outcome in this year’s Dirt Mile, when he stumbled at the start and wound up seventh at Santa Anita in what was to be his career finale before retiring to Darby Dan Farm’s stallion band, that led to Shackleford running in the Clark.
That’s how we expected him to run in the Breeders’ Cup, and it wasn’t his fault he stumbled,” said Romans, who won his ninth Grade I race of 2012 as he added onto a resume that already had him one of the leading candidates for the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion trainer. Romans is in a tie for the trainer’s title with Kenny McPeek at 12 wins with two days remaining in the fall meet.
“I told everyone, ‘If he comes out of that race good and is training well, we’re going to give him another shot.’ So it couldn’t have worked out any better,” said majority owner Mike Lauffer, who with co-owner Bill Cubbedge bred Shackleford, making them the first owners from Eastern Kentucky to win a Triple Crown race. “A lot of owners and trainers try to dodge other horses. We’ve always had the utmost confidence in him. When he’s 100 percent like he is today, we’ll take on anyone.”
For his final start, Shackleford was reunited with jockey Jesus Castanon, who rode the colt much of his career until breaking his left hand in a spill a week before the Met Mile.
“I was very emotional when I spoke to Dale and he told me I had a chance to ride him,” Castanon said. “To be able to ride him in his last race was amazing.”
The crowd gave Shackleford and Castanon a raucous ovation as he returned to the front of the grandstand and into a jam-packed winner’s circle.
“It was hugely gratifying in that he showed himself today, what he can do,” said Cubbedge, who also won an allowance race on the card with his filly Molly Morgan. “There’s been a lot of criticism of him, that he’s a habitual loser. For him to run this way in this race is just elating. How many Grade I races did he run in?”
Answer: 13, with his last start that wasn’t at least a Grade II coming in his third race.
“Would we have done anything differently?” Cubbedge asked. “Probably not. Dale has handled him perfectly.”
When Shackleford went the first quarter-mile in 24.31 seconds and the half-mile in 48.65, with Take Charge Indy in closest pursuit, the race was all but over. When Castanon reached the six-furlong split to 1:12.49 and the mile in 1:36.65, it really was over, even though Take Charge Indy and jockey Calvin Borel cut into their 2-1/2 –length deficit with an eighth-mile to go.
“I left him do his own thing, and he knows what to do,” Castanon said. “… Once they let me open up, I knew he was going to last. I could have gone around again and I don’t think they would have gotten to me.”
The fractions actually were slower than Shackleford ran in the Derby: 23.24, 48.63, 1:13.40 and 1:37.49 – some of the swiftest set by a horse who finished in the top four.
“We had to move a little bit early on him because there was no one else to run with (Shackleford),” Borel said of Take Charge Indy, this year’s Florida Derby winner. “But he fought hard. He ran great.”
Shackleford, a son of Forestry out of the Unbridled mare Oatsee, finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.12, paying $7.80 as the second choice in the field of nine, with 2011 Stephen Foster winner Pool Play scratched.
Trainer Pat Byrne said Borel “rode our horse brilliant.”
“He ran a super race,” Byrne said. “Shackleford brought his ‘A’ game, and we were second best.”
Bourbon Courage, another 3-year-old who won Louisiana Downs’ Super Derby and was second in the Indiana Derby, rallied from sixth to lose second by a head while finishing 6-3/4 lengths in front of 5-2 post time favorite Lunar Victory.
“We’re proud of him and thought he ran a big race,” said Kellyn Gorder, Bourbon Courage’s trainer. “We’re looking forward to next year.”
Trainer Dale Romans wins Big Sport of Turfdom award from racing publicists
Trainer Dale Romans
Breeders' Cup Turf: Little Mike continues to defy expectations By Steve Andersen
ARCADIA, Calif. – Every label placed on Little Mike in the last year is proving to be wrong.
Little Mike holds off Point of Entry to upset the Breeders' Cup Turf.
At one point, he was thought to be a miler. Then in August, he won the Arlington Million over 1 1/4 miles.
Going into Saturday’s $2,727,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita, Little Mike was expected to take his customary position on the lead. When he settled in third in the first mile of the race over 1 1/2 miles, jockey Ramon Dominguez thought his mount was comfortable, but still had concern about how the race was unfolding.
“We didn’t know how he’d react,” he said.
Little Mike was on the verge of a brilliant performance.
Winning for the first time over 1 1/2 miles, Little Mike won the richest turf race in the United States in the Grade 1 BC Turf, holding off a late threat from 2-1 favorite Point of Entry to win by a half-length.
St Nicholas Abbey, who won the 2011 BC Turf, finished third.
[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Saturday results and video replays]
Little Mike ($36.60) was timed in a quick 2:22.83. A 5-year-old gelding, he races for owner Priscilla Vaccarezza and is trained by Dale Romans. Little Mike was bred by Priscilla’s husband, Carlo.
The time may have been a course record. Hawkster holds the mark of 2:22.80 set in 1989, but the track did not time races to the hundredths of a second at that time.
What is certain is that Little Mike deserves to be considered for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding turf horse of 2012 along with BC Mile winner Wise Dan. The BC Turf was Little Mike's fourth stakes win of the year and third in a Grade 1 stakes. He won the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in May, the race before the Kentucky Derby that day.
Saturday, Little Mike was ignored in the betting for the BC Turf, with much of the focus on Point of Entry and St Nicholas Abbey, the 3-1 second choice.
At the start, Turbo Compressor took the lead and set a quick pace of 22.83 and 46.77 seconds. Little Mike trailed by 3 1/2 lengths after a half-mile and by 1 1/2 lengths after a mile.
On the turn, Trailblazer, an import from Japan, made an imposing move with a wide rally to reach contention. As soon as it appeared that Trailblazer could reach the front, Little Mike, who was racing toward the inside, pulled clear. He led by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole and held off the late challenges.
“Little Mike is unique,” Carlo Vaccarezza said. “He’s fast, but he has a lot of stamina.”
Dominguez said that Little Mike gave him the response he expected in the stretch.
“He really took off in the last part,” he said.
LITTLE MIKE RUNS BIG IN BREEDERS' CUP TURF
LITTLE MIKE RUNS BIG IN BREEDERS' CUP TURF
Original post by: Bloodhorse
Arlington Million (gr. IT) winner Little Mike upset the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and finished a tick off a 23-year-old course record to do so, holding off the late-flying Point of Entry by a half length while getting the 1 1/2 miles in 2:22.83 at Santa Anita Park Nov. 3 .
Record time for the distance at Santa Anita is 2:22.80, set by 3-year-old Hawkster in 1989, which also stands as the world record. The Hawkster time was taken in fifths of a second.
A 17-1 shot off a fifth-place finish for trainer Dale Romans in the Sept. 29 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) won by Point of Entry, Little Mike raced up close in third along the rail behind a pace set by the flying Turbo Compressor. The United Nations (gr. IT) winner went winging along through a quarter in :23.83, a half in :46.77, and three-quarters in 1:10.80 with Optimizer just off his outside flank.
After a mile in 1:35.28 Turbo Compressor began to tire, and jockey Ramon Dominguez shifted his 5-year-old Spanish Steps gelding just to the frontrunner's outside entering the turn. Little Mike responded nicely, taking the lead into the stretch and holding it against Point of Entry's late turn of foot.
"Today it's a mile and a half; he's a phenomenal horse," Romans said. "He's an overachiever and he's proven us all wrong. I don't think anybody up here thought he could be more than a miler last year and now we don't know where his limit is."
Little Mike paid $36.60, $12.20, and $7.80 while Point of Entry brought $4.20 and $3. Defending Turf victor St Nicholas Abbey returned $3.80 while three-quarters of a length back.
Bred in Florida by Carlo Vaccarezza and owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, Little Mike is out of the Wavering Monarch mare Hay Jude. The victory improved his career record to 12-2-1 from 21 starts with earnings of $3,074,412.
"When no one believes in Little Mike, he does it," Priscilla Vaccarezza said. "When he's not the favorite and no one thinks he can do the extra distance and when I'm nervous and don't think he has a chance, he wins! Maybe they will give him some respect after that, I don't know. Maybe because his name is Little Mike!"
Breeders' Cup 2012 | Little Mike overachieves for Romans in Turf
ARCADIA, CALIF. — Louisville native Dale Romans scored an upset win in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf when Little Mike surged to the front leaving the final turn, and held safe all the way to the wire. The victory touched off another raucous round of bear-hugging, high-five jubilation for the Romans clan, in celebration of its third Cup championship.
Little Mike surprised many in the Santa Anita Park crowd, who let the winner leave the gate at 17-1. But this classy gelding has always had a few surprises for his connections.
“He’s a phenomenal horse,” Romans said. “He’s an overachiever and he’s proven us all wrong. I don’t think anybody up here thought he could be more than a miler last year, and now we don’t know what his limit is.”
Little Mike held off the race favorite, Point of Entry, and last year’s Turf winner, St. Nicholas Abbey, who ran second and third
Afleeting Lady Fleet to the 'Turnback' Wire
ELMONT, N.Y. – Based primarily on her pedigree, Afleeting Lady was an attractive broodmare prospect, which explains why Jon Clay’s Alpha Delta Stables and Rich Santulli purchased the 5-year-old mare privately this week from owners Bill Lauffer and William Cubbedge.
Afleeting Lady pulls clear for a 3 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Belmont Park.
On Saturday, Afleeting Lady increased her value by capturing her first graded stakes, running past All Due Respect inside the eighth pole and bounding clear to a 3 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Belmont Park.
All Due Respect held second by 2 1/4 lengths, while Nefertini nosed out Go Unbridled for third. R Gypsy Gold, the 5-2 favorite, finished fifth, followed by defending Turnback the Alarm winner Arena Elvira, Maristar, and Catch a Thief.
The win was the sixth from 19 starts for Afleeting Lady, a daughter of Afleet Alex out of the mare Oatsee, which makes her a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Shackleford and Lady Joanne, the Grade 3 winner Baghdaria, and the listed stakes winner Stephanoatsee.
The win also gave trainer Dale Romans his first win of the Belmont fall meet after losing with his first 29 starters.
“We had a little slump – we’ve had them before – if you’re only going to win a few, you might as well win the right ones,” Romans said by phone from Southern California where he is preparing horses for next weekend’s Breeders’ Cup. “We’ve been trying to get a graded stakes for her all along. She’s really gotten good this fall. A horse with her pedigree and her talent deserves to get a graded stakes on her resume.”
Afleeting Lady entered the Turnback the Alarm off a 4 1/2-length victory in the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth on Sept. 3.
Saturday, breaking from the outside post under Joel Rosario, Afleeting Lady stalked All Due Respect through a quarter in 23.39 seconds, a half-mile in 46.17, and six furlongs in 1:10.27.
Afleeting Lady crept alongside All Due Respect outside the eighth pole and drew clear in the final sixteenth.
“That was an easy trip,” said Rosario, who won three races on the card. “It looked like [All Due Respect] was the speed. My horse has speed, too, but I just let them go and let my horse get comfortable, and she was really game today.”
Afleeting Lady covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.17 and returned $8.
Romans said Afleeting Lady would likely run in the Grade 2, $150,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 22 – a race in which she finished second last year – before being retired.
SHACKLEFORD TO WORK, MEET & GREET WITH TRAINER ROMANS ON SATURDAY
SHACKLEFORD TO WORK, MEET & GREET WITH TRAINER ROMANS ON SATURDAY
Shackleford, runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at
Churchill Downs, will breeze Saturday for the final time in preparation
for a start in this year’s Dirt Mile, it has been announced by trainer
Dale Romans. A winner of the Preakness Stakes last year and both the
Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes and the Grade I Metropolitan Mile
Handicap this year, Shackelford has developed an extensive following via
social media, according to Laura Hernan, a representative of
“We’ve had thousands of requests from people who would like to meet
‘Shack’,” said Hernan. “So we’ve decided to do a Meet and Greet this
Saturday after he works. He’s supposed to work at about 8 a.m., and we
want to invite his fans to come out to Clockers’ Corner and see him on
the track. Dale will be making an in-person appearance on HRTV after the
work, and at that time he’ll let everyone know what plans lie ahead for
Santa Anita Park and the Romans stable will then oversee a tour for all
those wishing to make the trek to Barn 76 at 11 a.m. Romans will make
Shackleford available for photos and will be on hand to answer questions
and sign memorabilia until 12 noon. The Shackleford Tour will assemble
at Clockers’ Corner prior to 11 a.m.
The public is invited, free of charge, to attend Clockers’ Corner seven
days a week. The popular venue offers coffee, tea and a full breakfast
menu in a one-of-a-kind setting. Clockers’ Corner can be accessed by
entering Santa Anita at Gate 8, off of Baldwin Ave.
Dullahan Overpowers 'Dude in Pacific Classic
Dullahan Overpowers 'Dude in Pacific Classic
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2012 10:20 PM
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2012 8:55 PM
Dullahan wears down Game On Dude to win the Pacific Classic.
Shipped to Southern California by trainer Dale Romans after a pair of lackluster efforts on the East Coast, Dullahan collared Game On Dude in deep stretch to take the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) in track-record time at Del Mar Aug. 26 (VIDEO).
With Joel Rosario aboard, Dullahan defeated Game on Dude by a half-length while clocked in 1:59.54 for the 1 1/4-mile distance on Polytrack. That eclipsed the track mark of 2:00.61 established in the Pacific Classic last year by champion Acclamation, who did not participate in this year's race because of a minor injury.
"It worked out perfect," said Rosario, who was based in Southern California for several years but moved to New York earlier this season. "He's a one-paced horse. He just goes and goes. When we went for home and I saw (Game On Dude) in front of me, I knew I had a big chance.
"My horse was coming and coming. He doesn't stop. He's a nice horse; a very nice horse."
Dullahan, third-place finisher in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), becomes the fourth 3-year-old to win the Pacific Classic in the 22-year history of the race, and the first since Came Home in 2002. He is now 3-for-3 on Polytrack in his career, all in grade I events, including earlier wins in the Breeders' Futurity as a 2-year-old and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in April, both at Keeneland.
Owned by Donegal Racing, Dullahan is a son of Even the Score out of the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own. Bred in Kentucky by Phil and Judy Needham and Bena Halecky, the chestnut colt was a $250,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase in 2010.
The wins locks up a place in the starting gate in the Breeders' Cup Classic for Dullahan as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. The $150,000 entry fee and $10,000 in shipping costs will be paid if the colt runs.
Jerry Crawford, who oversees the Donegal Racing partnership that owns Dullahan, said they would wait two weeks and then decide on the colt's next start.
"People are going to insist that this is a synthetic horse because he has won three grade Is on synthetic," Crawford said. "But there's no one else in the country that has won three grade Is on any surface and placed in graded stakes on the turf and finished third in the Kentucky Derby.
"I would respectfully submit that the question with Dullahan is not what surface can he run on, but what surface can't he run on?"
Dullahan was racing in fifth on the far turn and closing while about four paths wide after 6-5 favorite Game On Dude had taken charge over Suggestive Boy. Game On Dude still led at the sixteenth pole by about a length but could not contain Dullahan, who challenged under strong right-handed urging from Rosario to get up in the final strides.
Richard's Kid, who encountered traffic issues on the final turn, got through along the inside and finished well to be third in the field of 10, 3 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Dullahan.
Most of the pre-race attention was focused on the sale of two-time Pacific Classic winner Richard's Kid a week before the race by Zabeel Racing International to a group headed by Paul Boghossian's Triple B Farms. Trainer Bob Baffert, who trained Richard's Kid for Zabeel, told the media he felt he "had his pocket picked" by the surprise move. Baffert was determined to move on with race favorite Game On Dude and his second entrant, Jaycito.
But the dual grade I winner Game On Dude, who was fourth behind Acclamation in last year's Pacific Classic, is a better horse on dirt, Baffert has repeatedly acknowledged. And that may have been the difference in this year's race as Dullahan proved to be the better Polytrack horse.
Jockey Chantal Sutherland also dropped Game on Dude's left rein in deep stretch while transferring her whip from her right hand, replays showed. She said after the race that the mistake did not cost Game On Dude the race.
"I was switching my stick to the left hand, I pushed my rein loose," she said. "It was dangling at the end; it looked awful sloppy. I haven't done something like that in 13 years. But I don't think it affected anything. He was still doing what he could do. Just unfortunate."
Emotions boiled over at the Pacific Classic draw last Wednesday night, when angry words were exchanged between Baffert's wife, Jill, and Mark Verge, one of the new owners of Richard's Kid and the chief executive officer of Santa Anita.
But all that was pushed aside with Dullahan's victory at odds of 5-1. Dullahan paid $12.60, $5.20, and $3.40 while taking on older horses for the first time. Game On Dude returned $3.20 and $2.40, while Richard's Kid paid $3 to show.
"Game On Dude ran a good race, the other horse just got us," Baffert said. "Dullahan is a nice horse and he thrives on synthetics."
Dullahan was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) July 29 at Monmouth Park, finishing 13 1/2 lengths behind the Baffert-trained Paynter. The colt ran seventh in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) prior to that as the 5-2 favorite following his big effort in the Kentucky Derby.
Game On Dude was a bit slow to begin from post 9 as 70-1 shot Riveting Reason, to his outside, took the early lead and angled over to the inside as the field made its way through the stretch for the first time. Also prominent early on were Akkadian, the Argenita-bred Suggestive Boy, and San Diego Handicap (gr. II) winner Rail Trip.
Riveting Reason led the first half-mile while posting quick splits for the distance of :23.61 and :46.98. Game On Dude poked his head in front after six furlongs were completed in a sprightly 1:11.08.
Rosario was content to allow Dullahan to rate near the rear of the pack as the race unfolded.
Game On Dude, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) in his most recent race, led Suggestive Boy by about 1 1/2 lengths while reaching the quarter pole in 1:35.25. He appeared to have plenty left in the stretch run after he opened up by a couple of lengths.
"When they hit the quarter pole today he was closer than usual to the front, and he's the only horse I've ever owned that has a three-eighths of a mile move," Crawford said. "When I saw that Game On Dude was getting the rail trip and we were going at least four-wide, I thought 'Lord, please don't let us lose by a neck.'
"But I knew Joel had a tremendous amount of horse, just from the action of the horse when they turned for home. I thought he would get there, and boy did he."
Dullahan was under a drive from Rosario on the outside of horses as he commenced his bid rounding the final bend. There was nothing in his way as he charged through the lane to win impressively over Game On Dude, whose finish was somewhat reminiscent of his runner-up finish to Drosselmeyer in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.
Rail Trip finished fourth, followed by Suggestive Boy, the champion Chilean filly Amani, Jaycito, Where's Sterling, Akkadian, and Riveting Reason.
The winner joined Best Pal in 1991, General Challenge in 1999, and Came Home as 3-year-old winners of the Pacific Classic. He also became the third to win the race without racing in his prior start at either Del Mar or Hollywood Park. Bertrando in 1993, whose prior start was at Monmouth, and Student Council in 2007 after racing at Churchill Downs were the others.
Dullahan's most lucrative triumph, worth $600,000, boosted his bankroll to $1,702,091. Winless in six tries on dirt, all three of his victories from 12 starts in his career have come on Polytrack. He also has two seconds and three thirds overall.
More than 60 people associated with Donegal Racing were on hand on a sunny, 75-degree day along the Pacific Ocean.
"Some of them had never found their way out here from Iowa before," Crawford said.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/72373/dullahan-overpowers-dude-in-pacific-classic#ixzz24lHNrBpL
Success Of Romans Reason For Late Summer Smiles
Louisville-born Dale Romans has pulled from many sources through the years while crafting his philosophy and style training Thoroughbreds, and has enjoyed enormous success over the past decade or so.
But he has never enjoyed a year quite like 2012, and more than four months remain on the calendar.
Romans celebrated two milestones last week. On Tuesday, he celebrated his 46th birthday and, on Saturday, Romans saddled Little Mike to score an upset victory in the Grade I Arlington Million at Chicago’s Arlington Park.
The Million, run at 1 ¼ miles on the grass, has been one of America’s top turf tests since it was introduced back in 1981, when a $1 million purse was truly spectacular. The legendary John Henry, piloted by the equally legendary Bill Shoemaker, took its inaugural running when the young Romans was only 15.
Saturday’s front-running romp was the first victory in the Arlington Million for Romans, who also scored a surprise victory with Little Mike in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day.
Little Mike’s exploits in Chicago provide the latest evidence that Romans is compiling a body of work in 2012 that should have him in the discussion at the year of the season for the Eclipse Award that goes to America’s leading trainer.
Romans has not been a serious part of that debate despite fabulous success in recent years at his home base at Churchill Downs, where he now trails only Hall of Famer Bill Mott in the category of all-time victories, and other major tracks in the East, Southeast and Midwest.
And that conversation is a long way from his days of learning about Thoroughbreds on the Churchill Downs backside with his late father, trainer Jerry Romans. The elder Romans enjoyed success on the Kentucky racing circuit, but his primary focus was on claiming horses, with occasional success in allowance races and minor stakes events.
After notching his first victory in a Triple Crown race in 2011 with Shackleford and earning a Breeders’ Cup upset when longshot Court Vision won the Mile, Romans’ 2012 has been even more memorable. The Million was added to a roster of impressive wins on the year that includes triumphs by Shackleford in Belmont Park’s prestigious Grade I Metropolitan Handicap and the Churchill Downs on Derby Day; a victory Tapitsfly, owned and bred by longtime client Frank Jones Jr., in the Grade I Just A Game for fillies and mares on turf at Belmont Park; a win in Keeneland’s Grade I Toyota Blue Grass by Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird finished a charging third to I’ll Have Another in this year’s “Run for the Roses”; and a string of turf triumphs by the 3-year-old Silver Max, who finished third as the favorite in last Saturday’s Grade I Secretariat on the Arlington grass to snap a six-race win streak.
More chances for 2012 glory for Romans come this weekend when Dullahan tackles older foes over synthetic Polytrack in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar. That 3-year-old star loves the dirt surface at Churchill Downs, but struggles over the natural footing elsewhere. But his two career wins – in the Toyota Blue Grass and Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, both Grade I races – came over the Keeneland version of that synthetic surface.
That run of success at racing’s highest level is a good distance from the days when the younger Romans absorbed the basics of training Thoroughbreds from his father, whom he lists as his greatest influence. He also benefited from the wealth of training knowledge collected from working around Churchill Downs veterans like Angel Montano and Don Winfree, whose barns are located just steps away from the one that housed Jerry Romans’ stable.
Regardless of what happens between now and New Year’s Eve, it’s been a fantastic year for a Kentucky product who, by training standards, is still a very young man. For fans of Kentucky racing, watching Romans’ success beyond Kentucky’s borders has been one of the joys of the summer.
Silver Max coasts in Oliver
Silver Max coasts in Oliver
Dana Wells and Marc Bacon's Silver Max rolled to his fifth consecutive win
Wednesday in the $211,100 Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs. The Badge of Silver colt
showed his customary speed from the start under Victor Lebron, was left
untouched through splits of :23 4/5, :47 and 1:10 3/5, and drew off in the
stretch to win by a lopsided margin of 6 3/4 lengths in track-record time of
1:33 4/5 for one mile on the firm turf.
The 1-10 favorite, Silver Max returned $2.20 to win and $2.10 to place. There
was no show wagering after half of the 12-horse field, including five of the 10
betting interests, were scratched.
The winner's entrymate, Cozzetti, rallied for second by a neck over Travel
Advisory. Completing the order of finish were Az Ridge, Potomac River and Mr.
Prankster. Scratched from the field was another of Silver Max's entrymates,
Quick Wit, as well as Howe Great, Diez, Temeraine, North of Never and Senor
Runner-up in his first five starts, Silver Max has lost only once in seven
subsequent outings. After belatedly graduating from maiden company on January
13, the colt returned a little more than two weeks later in the Grade 3 Holy
Bull. Over a sloppy main track Silver Max struggled in the final furlong,
finishing fifth in a field of six.
Returned to the turf for his next start, Silver Max easily captured a starter
allowance/optional claimer in wire-to-wire fashion. He did the same again in the
Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland by 5 1/2 lengths on April 6, and in the Grade
2 American Turf at Churchill Downs by 2 3/4 lengths on May 4. Last time, he led
gate-to-wire to win the the May 26 Arlington Classic at Arlington Park by two
Trained by Dale Romans, Silver Max might reappear in the Grade 2, $600,000
Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. He will do with a record of 12-6-5-0,
Bred in Kentucky by Steve Snowden, Seth Lauffer and Will Lauffer, Silver Max
was a $20,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling. Produced by the Kissin Kris mare
Kissin Rene, he is half-brother to stakes winner True Kiss. This is the extended
family of Grade 1 winner Yes It's True, Grade 2 winner Kiss a Native, and Grade
3 hero Prince of the Mt.
Shackleford, last year's Preakness winner, can soak in glory of taking Met Mile at Belmont.
Shackleford, last year's Preakness winner, can soak in glory of taking Met Mile at Belmont.
“He’s as gutsy as they come,” trainer Dale Romans said of Shackleford, last year’s Preakness winner. “Hopefully, he gets the credit he deserves now. This is a spectacular horse.”
Sent to the front by John Velazquez, who was subbing for regular rider Jesus Castanon, who broke his left hand on May 18, Shackleford made the lead through quick fractions of :22.77 for the quarter and :44.73 for the half-mile, while keeping it tight on favored To Honor and Serve, who was racing along the rail.
While the battle up front raged on, Caleb’s Posse was rallying from last in the six-horse field with dead aim on Shackleford in the stretch and came full of run — only to come up a nose short.
“The trip was good,” jockey Rajiv Maragh said. “I just kept on riding, trying to win. It looked like I had him measured. I was hoping I had him. It was just an unfortunate head bob.”
Romans, who will saddle Dullahan in the June 9 Belmont Stakes while trying to thwart the Triple Crown bid of I’ll Have Another, knew the Met Mile loomed large.
“It was the race of the year and it was exciting to be part of it win, lose or draw with all those good horses,” Romans said. “It lived up to its billing as fast as they ran and to be a nose apart at the wire I think it lived up to the hype.”
To Honor and Serve lasted to be third over Caixa Eletronica.
“I don't think the inside post helped us, that’s all,” said Bill Mott, who trains To Honor and Serve.
Shackleford returned $8.80 to win as the third choice in the field of six after running the mile in 1:33.30.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/shackleford-noses-caleb-posse-met-mile-belmont-park-article-1.1085839#ixzz1wGP6am00
Shackleford forges to victory in Grade 2 Churchill Downs S.
Shackleford forges to victory in Grade 2 Churchill Downs S.
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Shackleford edged away from Amazombie in the very late stages of the $441,600 Churchill Downs S. (G2) for a one length victory after a stretch-long duel that left the rest of the field some six lengths behind at the wire. The 4-year-old chestnut colt will be joining the Darby Dan stallion roster for the 2013 breeding season.
The seven-furlong Churchill Downs is the second graded stakes in Shackleford's career; the first coming in the 2011 Preakness S. (G1) after being beaten a couple lengths in that year's Kentucky Derby (G1).
Shackleford, who is based at the Louisville track with trainer Dale Romans, made the most of his familiar surroundings on Saturday. He pressed the rapid pace of Will's Wildcat down the backstretch, with Amazombie just to his outside. With Will's Wildcat giving way into the turn, Amazombie stuck his head in front. Shackleford fought right back, and the pair set down for a thrilling duel. Shackleford finally asserted himself inside the final sixteenth to get the distance in 1:21.06, just 3/5ths off the track record.
“This is special, I tell you. He’s the big horse in our barn. He’s the Grade I winner. He deserves to be back in the winner’s circle. It feels great. Every race he tries so hard. He had been in nine Grade Ones. He’s still the star of the barn.
“We’re going to keep him short for a little while now. Maybe we’ll try the Met Mile (Grade 1, May 28 at Belmont Park) next. He can do just about anything.”
Shackleford netted $265,578 for his owner/breeders Mike Lauffer and William Cubbedge, raising his lifetime total to $2,291,381 with a record of 15-4-4-1.
The winner is out of Oatsee, who resides at Darby Dan and was recently named 2011 Broodmare of the Year. Besides Shackleford, she has produced Lady Joanne, winner of the Grade 1 Alabama S. and nearly $1 million, and multiple graded stakes winner Baghdaria.
Little Mike upsets Woodford Reserve
Although three dedicated front runners entered the gate in Saturday's $561,500 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, only one was intent on sticking to his script -- Priscilla Vaccarezza's homebred Little Mike -- and his tactics paid off to garner his first Grade 1 victory. With regular rider Joe Bravo rationing out his speed, the 12-1 chance never relinquished his advantage, and kept the Dale Romans barn hot heading into the Kentucky Derby.
The Romans-trained Silver Max had likewise dominated Friday's Grade 2 American Turf, and earlier Saturday, Shackleford landed the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes. Little Mike made it a hat trick, one race before Dullahan would represent the barn in Derby 138.
As Little Mike strode forward and angled out from his rail post, defending champion Get Stormy didn't try to go with him, let alone duplicate his front-running success of a year ago. He was throttled back to track the pace, in company with Turbo Compressor, who also took back rather than show his customary dash.
Little Mike reeled off his first quarter in :23 3/5, but then slowed the tempo down through fractions of :48 1/5 and 1:12 4/5. Winding it up again turning for home, the Florida-bred gelding gave the field the slip. He opened up by 3 1/2 lengths when reaching the mile mark in 1:36 2/5, and his margin was still a healthy 2 1/2 lengths at the wire. Little Mike finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 4/5 on the good turf, sparking mutuels of $26.40, $13.40 and $8.20.
"I thought he was the fastest horse in the race, period," Romans said. "I didn't know if he could go as far as he needed to, but we weren't going to take back. We weren't going to give Get Stormy an easy race. We decided to take it to him.
"He had condylar fracture last year, so this is a pretty sweet victory for Little Mike. He's a super horse and he deserves this Grade 1."
"I've been riding for 24 years," Bravo said, "and I can't say a horse will stick out more in my mind than Little Mike will. He's a horse that's overcome so much.
"I figured with the rain -- the water runs down to the inside -- that I thought it was better to stay off [the rail]. Who says there wasn't a question [about getting 1 1/8 miles]? I had a lot of questions, but Little Mike speaks."
California invader Slim Shadey won the battle for the minors by a half-length. Brilliant Speed grabbed third by a whisker from Doubles Partner. Data Link, Papaw Bodie, 2-1 favorite Turallure, Turbo Compressor, Get Stormy, Boxeur des Rues and Al Khali completed the order under the wire.
Brilliant Speed's connections believed that traffic trouble cost him second place.
"I got to the three-eighths pole," jockey John Velazquez said, "and I've got the horse in front of me going in and out, in and out, so now I have to wait behind him or go around him. He kept going out, so I went back to the inside, and he came back to the inside again. So now I'm steadying, waiting to see what he's going to do. Then Javier Castellano's and Todd Pletcher's horse [Doubles Partner] went through, so I had to follow him. It definitely cost me second money."
"It looked like Johnny was looking for a spot where he could save some ground," trainer Tom Albertrani said, "and you could see where he was kind of in and out. I think he was waiting until the last minute trying to get some good, clear room. But he finished good and it was promising to see him come back first race off the layoff and run a good race here. He probably wants to go a little bit further, too."
Turallure's trainer Charles Lopresti cited the lack of pace for his undoing.
"There was no speed up front and it just didn't come back. It didn't set up for us," Lopresti said. "He kicked on, but there wasn't anything to really run at. I think that's the way it unfolded. It wasn't the kind of race that set up for us."
Little Mike was best known as a Gulfstream Park specialist, in light of his scores in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale, Grade 3 Canadian Turf and Grade 3 Appleton in 2011 before going to the sidelines with his injury. He picked up right where he left off with a December 22 allowance win, and extended his winning streak to four in the January 28 Florida Sunshine Millions Turf. Little Mike's skein ended with a fourth in the March 3 renewal of the Canadian Turf, surrendering to the victorious Doubles Partner and third Data Link, but he turned the tables on a bigger stage here. Little Mike improved his record to 17-10-2-0, $830,412.
Sired by Spanish Steps, the five-year-old bay is out of the winning Wavering Monarch mare Hay Jude, making him a half-brother to Grade 3-placed multiple stakes hero Little Nick. The only other prominent family members in recent years are multiple Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Linear and Gold Pleasure, a Group 1 victor in his native Brazil.
Silver Max wins American Turf
Silver Max wins American Turf
Posted: Friday, May 04, 2012 6:16 PM
For video of this race, click here.
by Teresa Genaro
A late afternoon thunderstorm did nothing to dampen the spirits of the dozens that flooded the winner's circle after Silver Max won the American Turf Stakes (G2) Friday at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Dale Romans and owned by Mark Bacon and Dana Wells, Silver Max went to the front over a firm turf course, setting testing fractions and prevailing.
Less than a week after a major storm halted racing on opening night at Churchill Downs, racing was delayed for a second time when a dangerous storm headed for the track was expected to hit approximately at post time for the race, which was run after a delay of approximately 45 minutes.
Earlier in the day, Romans confronted a stormy situation of another sort with the news that the jockey scheduled to ride Silver Max, Robby Albarado, had been arrested following a domestic dispute. Rafael Bejarano was named to ride.
"I didn't care about the jockey situation from a business level or on the horse's level, but I'm concerned for my friend," said Romans. "This is a really nice horse, a really super turf horse."
Silver Max, a three-year-old Badge of Silver colt out of Kissin Rene, began his carer with a string of five straight second place finishes. He broke his maiden in his sixth start and has won four of his last five races, including three straight, all by generous margins.
"It was all mental with him," said Romans. "He just didn't he understood competing early in his career. When he figured it out, though, he figured it out."
Turning for home, jockey Javier Castellano fell from his mount, Star Channel. Star Channel finished the race and appeared unhurt; Castellano was removed from the course on a stretcher but late walked on his own to the jockeys' room and rode his scheduled mount in the next race, Grace Hall in the Kentucky Oaks.
Romans says dirt not an issue for Dullahan in Derby
Romans says dirt not an issue for Dullahan in Derby
Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 6:07 PM
by Nicole Russo
Dullahan is a two-time Grade 1 winner on a synthetic surface, multiple graded-stakes placed on turf, and unplaced in three starts on dirt.
Trainer Dale Romans is not concerned about his Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) contender.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I said a long time ago, when he was under the radar screen, I wouldn’t change places with anybody,” Romans said of Donegal Racing’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner.
Dullahan’s three dirt attempts, all in 2011, came at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. The colt—a half brother to 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird—was third going 5 ½ furlongs last June 9 in his career debut, finishing behind subsequent graded stakes winners Exfactor and Daddy Nose Best; he then finished fifth going six furlongs on July 3 at Churchill.
Dullahan then finished second in a maiden special weight race on the turf at Saratoga Race Course; was third in the With Anticipation Stakes (G2) at that track; and finally broke his maiden in dramatic fashion by taking the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course. He closed out his juvenile campaign by finishing fourth going 1 1/16 miles on dirt in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 5.
“He’s 0-for-3 on dirt, but you can throw out the first two races that were both sprints,” Romans said. “Then you have the Breeders’ Cup, which is shaping up to be the best Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in history.”
In the Juvenile, Dullahan was bumped at the start and, after swinging wide to find running room, found himself in ninth in upper stretch. He closed well to be fourth behind eventual divisional champion Hansen and fellow Derby contenders Union Rags and Creative Cause.
With his victory in the Blue Grass, Dullahan became the ninth horse to emerge from the 2011 Juvenile to win a grade or group stakes in 2012.
“He ran as good a race as anybody [in the Juvenile],” Romans said.
“He trains every day at Churchill Downs and he seems to love the racetrack. I just do not see the dirt being a problem.”
Dullahan, by Even the Score, began his three-year-old campaign with a runner-up finish in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) on the Gulfstream Park turf on March 11. He then turned in a breakout performance in the Blue Grass, rallying powerfully down the stretch to collar Hansen in the final yards for the win.
“It’s very rewarding. I was just proud of him,” Romans said.
Romans, who said that Dullahan fits his “prototype for a Derby horse,” said the colt’s running style and color remind him of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, one of his favorite runners.
“I would [compare Dullahan to] like a Ferdinand,” Romans said. “I can see him coming up the rail under Kent like Ferdinand did with Shoemaker.”
Dullahan collars Hansen to win Blue Grass
Dullahan unleashed an explosive burst of speed in the stretch and reeled in champion Hansen with a powerful surge in the final furlong to win the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
Dullahan already had a Grade 1 win on the Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course and appeared to be razor sharp with a bullet five-furlong workout in his final major drill entering the Blue Grass. The Even the Score colt completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.94 to punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 5 at Churchill Downs, where in 2011 he finished fourth behind winner Hansen in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Trained by Dale Romans for owner Donegal Racing, Dullahan is out of the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own and is a half brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. He won the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at two at Keeneland.
Hansen took the early lead and spurted away from the field in the stretch but could not hold off the late rally of Dullahan. Hansen’s co-owner Dr. Kendall Hansen colored the tip of his tail blue earlier in the day before trainer Mike Maker dyed it back to gray because he feared the stewards would scratch the Tapit colt.
Finnegans Wake starts to focus for Louisiana Derby
Barbara D. Livingston
Finnegans Wake will try to put himself into the Triple Crown mix with a strong performance in Sunday's Louisiana Derby.
NEW ORLEANS – Finnegans Wake likes to gawk. The rawboned 3-year-old shipped from trainer Dale Romans’s base at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida to Fair Grounds on March 21. It was not until Wednesday morning during a routine gallop that he seemed to have really gotten used to the place.
“He’s a horse that really needs to get acclimated into his surroundings,” said Tammy Fox, the former jockey who is Romans’s longtime partner and a regular work rider for the stable. “He looks around a lot. He’s like a kid. Today was the first day he was really focused out there.”
Finnegans Wake won’t be among the favorites in Sunday’s Louisiana Derby, but he does appear to reside among a bulky group of developing sophomores who have a chance to step forward and move fully onto the Triple Crown trail. Finnegans Wake’s first two starts of the year came on turf, and in his stakes debut and second dirt race, he rallied from 13th to finish third, beaten nine lengths by Hansen, in the March 3 Gotham Stakes.
“He seemed to be the only one making up ground at the end,” said Fox, who is a native of Metairie, a New Orleans suburb.
Part of the plan with sending Finnegans Wake here early involved getting a work over the track, which Finnegans Wake did this past Saturday. And while the Powerscourt colt can be slow into stride, he’s fast enough to have worked five furlongs in a near-bullet 59.80 seconds.
“He just gradually picks it up, picks it up,” said Fox, who was here to work Finnegans Wake. “At the eighth pole that day, he saw some horses and he went on with it himself.”
A career-peak effort will be required from Finnegans Wake, if he’s to dent the upper echelon of the Louisiana Derby, but the race’s $1 million purse made the trip seem worthwhile.
“With all that money, you’ve got to give them a shot,” Fox said.
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Tapitsfly may be a Breeders' Cup winner, but she'd never won a graded stakes until Sunday when she took care of that little glitch in her résumé with a three-quarter-length victory over Bay to Bay in Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Honey Fox.
Tapitsfly won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2009, a race that was ungraded at the time. She got close to winning a graded stakes on a couple of occasions over the past six months, finishing second in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa last summer at Saratoga and third, beaten a head, in the Grade 3 Marshua's River here earlier this winter.
Tapitsfly broke alertly under jockey Julien Leparoux before settling in midpack about four lengths off the leaders in the one-mile Honey Fox. Tapitsfly remained in that position until early stretch, where she angled out slightly and finished best of all down the center of the course to run down Bay to Bay and La Reine Lionne.
Bay to Bay, idle since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 First Lady five months earlier, raced well placed while saving ground to the stretch, split rivals for the drive, and just missed with her closing surge. La Reine Lionne raced wide into the first turn, forced the pace outside horses, held a short advantage through midstretch, but could not last.
Future Generation, the 8-5 favorite, finished fourth. Louvakhova was eased before the finish and vanned off after the race.
Tapitsfly is a daughter of Tapit owned by Frank Jones Jr. and trained by Dale Romans. She paid $12.20 after completing the distance over a firm course in 1:34.23.
"It's hard to believe this was her first graded stakes win," Romans said. "She's had some tough beats and some nice wins prior to today, and she deserves to be a graded stakes winner. The key is that she's started to relax a little bit, which is making her a better horse. To me, she looked like a winner every step of the way today."
Romans said he has nothing picked out for Tapitsfly's next start.
Tapitsfly rallies under Leparoux to win Honey Fox
Tapitsfly rallies under Leparoux to win Honey Fox
Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012 7:46 PM
To view the Honey Fox Stakes, click here.
by Patrick Reed
Tapitsfly, winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, on Sunday captured her first stakes win since that victory, rallying through the stretch under a well-timed ride from Julien Leparoux to win the $150,000 Honey Fox Stakes (G2) by three-quarters of a length.
The five-year-old gray or roan Tapit mare, a Frank Jones homebred, had come tantalizingly close against stakes company since returning to the racetrack after taking more than a year off following her Breeders’ Cup win. She posted a strong third-place finish in the 2011 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (G3) in June and a second against Daveron (Ger) in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) in August.
In Tapitsfly’s most recent race, she finished third by a head to Heavenly Landing and La Reine Lionne in the 1 1/16-mile Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) on January 7 at Gulfstream. Shortening up to a mile for the Honey Fox, Tapitsfly turned the tables on La Reine Lionne and easily bested 3-to-2 favorite Future Generation (Ire), a Group 3 winner in Ireland who was making her second start in the U.S. following an impressive debut win on February 15.
Tapitsfly broke well from the gate but was reserved off the pace in sixth by Leparoux behind pacesetter Romacaca through the backstretch. The mare had clear running room entering the far turn and Leparoux chose wisely among several paths to reach contention, maneuvering Tapitsfly to the outside of La Reine Lionne as that foe challenged Romacaca for the lead.
La Reine Lionne and a stalking Bay to Bay battled for the lead in early stretch, but Tapitsfly wore down both foes through the final sixteenth of a mile en route to her first graded stakes win. She covered one mile in 1:34.23 on firm turf.
Trainer Dale Romans said after the race that he felt that Tapitsfly had regained the turf form she flashed last summer before racing in the Spinster Stakes (G1) in October on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course, where she finished last of 12.
“It’s hard to believe that this is her first graded stakes win,” Romans said. “The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf wasn’t graded yet when she won. She really deserves this to go along with her Breeders’ Cup.
“She’s won some good races and we tried her in the Spinster last fall thinking she’d like the [Polytrack]—it’s a prestigious race, but it didn’t work out. She’ll be strictly turf from now on. She’s learned to relax and is a better horse this year.”
Grade 2 winner Bay to Bay outfinished La Reine Lionne by a nose for second. Future Generation finished fourth, 3 ¼ lengths behind La Reine Lionne.
Tapitsfly improved her career record to five wins in 18 starts, and boosted her earnings to $880,050. She is out of the winning Marlin mare Flying Marlin.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
LOUISVILLE — They still called her name as she came back to be unsaddled, members of the crowd of 65,143 at Churchill Downs seizing the chance to show their appreciation for Goldikova one last time.
For five seasons, the champion mare has spoiled the racing world with her greatness, racking up a European record for top-level wins and establishing a mark in the Breeders' Cup World Championships that might never be equaled.
But in her last attempt at topping her own standard of excellence, the advances of age and the toll of repeatedly making history was something Goldikova couldn't overcome.
Goldikova's attempt to win an unprecedented fourth straight edition of the Breeders' Cup Mile was stymied Saturday when 64-1 shot Court Vision shot past the 6-year-old mare and then held off Turallure in deep stretch to win the $2 million turf contest by a nose with the three-time champion third.
In earning her previous Mile victories and collecting 14 Grade/Group I wins for her career — nine of which came against males — Goldikova had cemented her all-time great status regardless of what transpired in her final career start. Though she had lost three of five starts this season heading into the Mile, her overwhelming class still made her the 6-5 favorite in the eyes of the betting public against a field that included fellow champion Gio Ponti, and Grade/Group I winners Get Stormy, Turallure, Byword and Sidney's Candy.
Having gone winless in his previous six starts, many had forgotten Court Vision too was a multiple Grade I winner. The 6-year-old gave a timely reminder of his best ability when he rallied from next to last in the 13-horse field with a huge kick to dethrone the reigning queen of the turf.
"Now I don't think she can sustain the same speed," said Freddy Head, trainer of Goldikova. "She does a little thing for only the half then she doesn't seem to be able to follow on that. Maybe the mileage and years have taken their toll."
Court Vision, on the other hand, had his best day just when his career might also be coming to a close.
Previously trained by Richard Dutrow and owned by IEAH Stables, the son of Gulch was purchased privately by Spendthift Farm in late August and transferred to the barn of Dale Romans.
"This is the best he's done since I've been getting on him for two years now," winning jockey Robby Albarado said. "I attribute that to Dale giving him that undivided attention and treating him like the great horse he is."
The dark bay horse hadn't hit the board since winning the 2010 Grade I Woodbine Mile and has been slated to stand at Park Stud in Canada for the 2012 season. With the way he has impressed his new conditioner since running seventh in the latest edition of the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 18, those plans may have to be rethought.
"For the last couple of weeks, he's just been topping himself," Romans said. "He only got beat 3 lengths in Canada, which was the first race off of a longer layoff. He was just moving so good over the racetrack."
After saving ground along the rail in fourth while Get Stormy carved out the opening half in :48.18, jockey Olivier Peslier angled Goldikova hard out into Courageous Cat in the stretch, a move that prompted an objection, which was disallowed shortly after the race.
The duo struck the front in the final furlong but Court Vision was rolling on the far outside under Albarado and had enough momentum to hold off an equally fast-moving Turallure on his flank, finishing in 1:37.05 over a firm course.
"No regrets," said Peslier, who rode Goldikova in all of her 27 starts, guiding her to 17 total wins for career earnings of $7,176,551. "When we came on the turn there was no place to go. But she got through with good acceleration. I am full of emotion. I hope she does well and that someday I will ride her baby."
Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/11/06/1948747/court-vision-too-strong-for-goldikova.html#ixzz1cvuhvgiT
Posted: 12:00am on Nov 6, 2011; Modified: 8:00am on Nov 6, 2011
Tornado touches down at Churchill Downs, Ky.
6/12/11 (Last updated: 6/11/11 7:48 PM)
Silk looks smooth in Just a Game upset
On Preakness Day, trainer Dale Romans watched Paddy O'Prado capture the Dixie S. (G2) on turf before sending out Shackleford (Forestry) to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico. Romans will hope that history repeats itself at Belmont Park on Saturday, for C. S. SILK (Medaglia d'Oro) posted a wire to wire upset in the $400,000 Just a Game S. (G1) on turf about two hours before Shackleford's bid in the Belmont S. (G1). Dispatched at 12-1, C. S. Silk spurted away beneath Javier Castellano to prevail by three lengths, paying $27.20, $12.60 and $7.50.
|C. S. Silk stole her first Grade 1 title (Jim Tyrrell/Horsephotos.com)
William Pacella, George Bonomo and Fred Barbara's C. S. Silk was earning her first Grade 1 coup, but she had missed by just a half-length to Proviso (GB) in last October's First Lady S. (G1) at Keeneland. The five-year-old mare's best performance so far in 2011 was another second in the February 12 Endeavour S. (G3) at Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, that was bookended by a pair of disappointments, a 10th in the January 9 Marshua's River S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park and a ninth in the April 16 Jenny Wiley S. (G2) at Keeneland. The wagering public focused more on those efforts, resulting in the overlay.
Seizing the initiative in a race lacking an unambiguous front runner, C. S. Silk carved out steady fractions of :25 1/5, :50 2/5 and 1:15 2/5 on the good Widener turf course. Much Rejoicing (Distorted Humor) and Amen Hallelujah (Montbrook) were tracking closely, but 3-2 favorite Aviate (GB) (Dansili [GB]) was reserved in midpack, where she ended up never landing a blow. Fantasia (GB) (Sadler's Wells), on the other hand, was able to mount a strong rally from dead last.
By that point, however, C. S. Silk was long gone. The longtime leader kicked clear at the top of the stretch, built up a daylight lead, and completed the soggy mile in 1:40 2/5.
"I know the turf is soft," Castellano said. "She loves it; she handled it so well. She was comfortable on the lead. She really enjoyed the trip. It was beautiful. I think the key was getting her to relax at the first quarter. For the first quarter of a mile, she was relaxed. We walked with the 25-second first quarter. The rest was history. When I asked her, it was like I pushed a button and she took off."
"The turf today suited us perfectly," Romans noted. "We've had her since she was a yearling, and she has been a little bit fickle where she'd throw in a bad race and then throw a good one. We just can't give up on her. She pays you off when she's right."
Fantasia got up late to take runner-up honors, one length ahead of Amen Hallelujah. Justaroundmidnight (Ire) (Danehill Dancer) checked in fourth. Gypsy's Warning (SAf) (Mogok), Aviate, Much Rejoicing, Strike the Bell (Mizzen Mast) and Cherokee Queen (Cherokee Run) rounded out the order of finish.
"(Fantasia) was gradually running," trainer Jonathan Sheppard said, "but she wasn't going to catch the winner; it was going to have to be another eighth of a mile, I think. I'm kind of anxious to try this filly a bit longer now, because she really seems to be staying well and finishing well."
C. S. Silk's biggest career victory improved her mark to 24-7-5-2, $776,896. A six-length winner of the 2008 Arlington-Washington Lassie S. (G3) on Polytrack, she concluded her juvenile season with a runner-up effort in the Delta Princess S. (G3) on dirt. C. S. Silk lost her way at three, but ultimately found herself as a four-year-old on the turf. She garnered the 2010 Addison Mallery S. at Saratoga and placed in the Locust Grove H. (G3) and Ellis Park Turf S. prior to her terrific try in the First Lady.
Bred by Hermitage Farm in Kentucky, C. S. Silk was sold for $120,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She was produced by the stakes-winning Remember the Day (Settlement Day), making her a half-sister to Grade 3 victor Remember Sheikh (Sheikh Albadou [GB]), multiple stakes scorer Memory Tap (Pleasant Tap) and the winning Since Time Began (Rubiano), the dam of Grade 3 queen Victorina (Delaware Township). Remember the Day's latest foal is an unnamed yearling colt by Indygo Shiner.
"She's from Medaglia d'Oro's first crop, and everybody knows what his fillies have done," Romans said. "She has three or four half-brothers and sisters who are stakes horses, and it's huge getting a Grade 1 win with her."
In Race or Behind the Scenes, Women Cement Their Gains in the Industry
In Race or Behind the Scenes, Women Cement Their Gains in the Industry
By MELISSA HOPPERT
This Triple Crown season has been rife with story lines, many involving women. Rosie Napravnik posted the highest finish by a female jockey in the Kentucky Derby — ninth with Pants On Fire. Kathy Ritvo, recovering from a heart transplant, trained Mucho Macho Man for all three legs of this grueling series.
But a woman behind the scenes has been just as important.
When the trainer Dale Romans needed to decide whether to enter Shackleford, who was fourth in the Derby and won the Preakness Stakes, in Saturday’s Belmont, he turned to the person he trusted most, Tammy Fox.
Fox has had two children with Romans, and she is familiar with Shackleford. She rides him during workouts — and has watched him blossom from an immature 2-year-old into a champion.
“She said all along he was a good horse,” Romans said of Shackleford, who led most of the Belmont but faded to fifth. “She kind of called it early in his career. And she’s been good about giving feedback on his breezes — when he’s on his game, when he’s moving forward — which has been good because it helps make decisions on how often we should run him.”
Fox had a precocious start in horse racing. Her father, Billy Fox, was a jockey and trainer at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. He put her on a racehorse when she was 12.
“We used to sneak on the racetrack right before they would close, right before 10 o’clock,” she said. “And he would be on his pony and I would be on one of the racehorses, and he would go around the racetrack with me and help me out and tell me what I should be doing on a horse and what I was doing wrong.”
And so the seeds were planted for a 23-year career as a jockey, in which she won 236 races from 2,227 mounts, earning $3.5 million.
“I’ve had it easy,” Fox said of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. “I grew up with all those guys riding and I was around it all my life. I’ve been very fortunate in that respect that I didn’t have to go out hustling trying to get mounts and stuff. I had my dad there for me, who put me on pretty much the best of what he had to get me started.”
She met Romans more than 20 years ago when she went to Kentucky to ride. Her brother, Billy Fox Jr., who was riding for Romans at the time, gave her a list of people to help her get started.
“Dale was the first one I went to talk to, and I didn’t need to see anything else,” she said with a chuckle before adding that she had not been looking for a boyfriend, only for work. Romans, who is part of a racing family as well, asked her out soon after, but they did not officially start dating for about a year.
Fox now rides exclusively for the burly, 6-foot-3 Romans, who she said is practically a teddy bear. At only 4 feet 6 inches and 97 pounds, she is the strong arm of the operation.
“He doesn’t boss anybody around,” Fox said. “In some of the barns, there’s a lot of yelling and stuff going on. He’s not the type that’s going to embarrass you in front of anybody. If he doesn’t like what you’re doing, he’ll call you off to the side and he’ll say, ‘Hey, I want you to do this, I want you to do that.’ Me, I’ll speak my mind.”
In 2005, Fox found another outlet for her toughness —football.
“I was going to the racetrack one morning, and there was an interview on the radio saying that there was tryouts for this women’s football team,” Fox, 46, said of the Kentucky Karma of the National Women’s Football Association. “And the next day, I went out there and tried out for running back and made the team.
“They were serious. There was N.F.L. rules; the girls were big and they were tough. I mean, I got hit, I got banged up, the conditioning was brutal. We were practicing four days a week, about three hours a day. Those girls don’t play around.”
Much like Fox, Ritvo, 42, grew up on the track’s back side. Her father, Peter Petro, was a horse owner before he died of a heart ailment in 2007. Her brothers — Michael, a trainer, and Nick, a jockey — are based at Delaware Park. Another brother, Louis, was a jockey who died of complications from cardiomyopathy, a degenerative heart disease, at 38 in 1996.
Ritvo received her training license on her 18th birthday, but her career was derailed in 2001, when she learned that she, too, had cardiomyopathy. She had a heart transplant in 2008. Last October, when her husband, Tim Ritvo, a former jockey and trainer, became the director of East Coast racing for MI Developments , she said she felt healthy enough to take over his stable. With it came Mucho Macho Man, a promising 2-year-old. He finished seventh on Saturday.
“There’s only a certain amount of horses that get to that level,” Ritvo said. “And if you’re lucky enough to be associated with one of them, it’s a miracle. It’s a miracle that I’m even here altogether.”
Fox said women like Ritvo and Napravnik, 23, who this year became the first female jockey to win the Louisiana Derby and the first to win a riding title at the storied Fair Grounds, were a sign of what is to come in the industry.
“It’s a lot easier for the girls around the whole business, from training to riding to exercise girls,” Fox said. “The men don’t look at us in that respect anymore. We’re one of the guys. It’s not ‘Oh, she’s a girl’ anymore. Now it’s more ‘She’s a horse person.’
“And it’s going to be a lot easier for the next generation of girls. You see those little kids come out to the racetrack on tours, and it’s always the little girls more so than the boys that want to mess with the horses.”
For Fox and Romans, who have horse racing in their blood, being part of Shackleford’s journey has been a dream come true.
“It takes so many people, and so many things have to go right,” Romans said after winning the Preakness, his first victory in a Triple Crown race. “It’s a huge accomplishment for Tammy, who breezes him every morning and lets me leave town every winter with all the horses while she takes care of the kids. It just takes everybody working together to get this done.”
After the Belmont, Romans was disappointed but still proud and optimistic.
“We had it the way we wanted,” he said. “He just didn’t hang on. It’s still wide open for a champion 3-year-old.”
As a now-healthy Ritvo says, “A good horse makes you feel good.”
Romans Says Shackleford a 'Go' for Belmont
Eastern Kentucky owners revel in Shackleford's Preakness success
Eastern Kentucky owners revel in Shackleford's Preakness success
Kentucky Derby entry: Shackleford: Shackleford finished second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and is headed for the Kentucky Derby.
Mike Lauffer, right, holds the Woodlawn vase trophy in front of jockey Jesus Castanon (blue helmet) and trainer Dale Romans, second from top left, and his family in the winner's circle following 136th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Baltimore. Romans family members are: Jacob Romans, front left, wife Tammy Fox, front center, and Bailey Romans also holding the trophy, (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) / Patrick Semansky/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Romans' plan is for Shackleford to run in Belmont
Romans' plan is for Shackleford to run in Belmont
Former jockey Mark Guidry joins Dale Romans at Churchill Downs
Former jockey Mark Guidry joins Dale Romans at Churchill Downs
Paddy O'Prado retired with fractured sesamoid
Paddy O'Prado retired with fractured sesamoid
Barbara D. Livingston
Paddy O'Prado and Dale Romans last week at Pimlico, prior to his comeback win in the Dixie.
Paddy O’Prado, who won the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico, has been retired because of a fractured sesamoid bone in his right front ankle, his trainer, Dale Romans said Monday.
“He broke off the top part of his outside sesamoid,” Romans said on a teleconference.
Romans said the injury was detected after Paddy O’Prado was flown back to Churchill Downs on Sunday and X-rays were taken. Paddy O’Prado returned to Churchill Downs with Shackleford, who won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday for Romans.
Paddy O’Prado began showing signs of lameness in the test barn at Pimlico after the Dixie and had to be vanned back to the stakes barn, where he was residing while at Pimlico. Romans on Sunday morning at Pimlico said he thought the injury was merely a foot bruise.
“We are very disappointed today to see Paddy’s career end so suddenly,” Jerry Crawford, the managing partner of the Donegal Racing syndicate which owns Paddy O’Prado, said in a press release. “This is what is best for Paddy. He will make a full recovery and embark on the next stage of his career.”
Stud plans have not been finalized, though Crawford on the teleconference said his phone had been ringing “quite regularly” on Monday. Crawford said he there were “18 potential suitors” who inquired about Paddy O’Prado for stud duty last year before the decision was made to keep Paddy O’Prado in training for this year.
Paddy O’Prado, a 4-year-old son of El Prado, won 5 times in 14 starts and earned more than $1.7 million. He was purchased as a yearling by Donegal for $105,000.
The Dixie was the first start for Paddy O’Prado since he finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last fall at Churchill Downs.
Though he ran well in the BC Classic and finished third in the Kentucky Derby last year, Paddy O’Prado had his greatest success on turf. He won four graded stakes on turf last year, including the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington. He also won the Virginia Derby, the Colonial Turf Cup, and the Palm Beach Stakes, and was second to Winchester in the Turf Classic. Paddy O’Prado also finished second on Polytrack in last year’s Blue Grass Stakes.
Romans' Rise - By Eric Mitchell
24 May 2011 9:37 AM
(Originally published in the May 28, 2011 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.)
By Eric Mitchell - @EJMitchellKy on Twitter
All American grade school children grow up hearing the story. Anyone with enough drive and ambition can one day be President of the United States.
The same lesson applies to trainers who aspire to win Thoroughbred racing’s toughest, most prestigious races. For Dale Romans, those most important races are the American Triple Crown, which is saying something considering Romans has already won the world’s richest race, the $6 million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in 2005 with Roses in May.
The World Cup is great, but Romans said his crowning achievement to date came May 21 when he won his first American classic in his eighth attempt, with Shackleford in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
“There is nothing like winning at home in America,” Romans said during an interview that aired on Courier-Journal.com. “This race puts you in the history books. Horse racing is built around these three races. That’s why everyone is buying horses because they want to get to these three races.”
Standing at the cupola in the Preakness winner’s circle was certainly a place Romans never imagined he would be when he got his trainer’s license at age 18 in 1986.
“From where we started, no one would have believed we would be competing in these kinds of races,” he said the afternoon of May 22 in between answering several hundred e-mails and text messages he’d received over the previous 18 hours. “I never thought training a stakes horse was a realistic goal starting out—much less a classic winner. Anybody that sticks to what their goals are and works hard at it, anyone can do it.”
Romans, a Louisville, Ky., native, grew up on the backside of Churchill Downs. He was walking hots at around 10 years old and making $50 per day rubbing horses. His father, Jerry, a successful trainer for nearly 35 years, was the one who gave Romans his foundation as a conditioner. Where father and son differed was on the level each felt comfortable competing. Of Jerry Romans’ 5,407 lifetime starters, 71% were claimers. That was his niche—handicapping, claiming, and the art of putting modest horses in the right spot to win. Dale Romans embraced those skills and then raised the bar for himself; he wanted top-notch stakes horses in his barn.
Five years would pass before Romans won his first black-type race with Morning Punch in the 1991 Florence Stakes at Turfway Park. In 1996 Romans had his first graded stakes winner in Victor Avenue, who won the Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. II) and the Gravesend Handicap (gr. III), both at Aqueduct. Then came 2004 when his barn exploded with talent. Romans had seven stakes winners with five different owners. The stars were grade I winners Roses in May and Kitten’s Joy, both owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, and grade II winner Halory Leigh, owned by partners Jerry Crawford, Matt Gannon, and Charlie Grask.
Romans entered a horse in his first classic in the 2005 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Nolan’s Cat, who came from dead last after a mile to finish third at odds of 20-1. In 2006 he had a horse in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) for the first time with Sharp Humor, who had won the Swale Stakes (gr. II) and finished second in the Florida Derby (gr. I) by a half-length to Barbaro. Sharp Humor finished a disappointing 19th.
He kept knocking on the door, coming back in the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Paddy O’Prado, who finished third, and then taking both First Dude and Paddy O’Prado to the Preakness where they finished second and sixth, respectively.
“Going into these races, you just have to have a horse that is doing absolutely perfect, no hitches in the training, or you are not going to get anything,” Romans said. Besides having the right horse, the key to success, he learned, is to stay consistent and train the horse as if a classic race were like any other.
Everything finally came together for him with Shackle-ford. The son of Forestry led the Kentucky Derby field this year for a mile before fading to finish fourth but came back with a dynamite performance in the Preakness, holding off favorite and Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
“It puts your whole career in perspective,” Romans said. “This is what we’ve been working toward every morning of every day.”
There is one more set of pegs sitting above the bar Romans has steadily raised since 1986. It’s Romans’ equivalent of showing up for work in the Oval Office.
“Nothing beats the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “Hopefully, one day we’ll get one of those, too.”
Preakness Undercard | Paddy O'Prado whistles in Dixie
Preakness Undercard | Paddy O'Prado whistles in Dixie
Rallies from last for Grade II win
Shackleford wins Preakness 2011
Maryland race has Kentucky flavor as Shackleford holds on to win
Dale Romans discusses Shackleford's Preakness vict...: Trainer Dale Romans discusses his horse Shackleford winning the 2011 Preakness
Shackleford, center, ridden by Jesus Castanon, works down the stretch in front of Animal Kingdom, left, ridden by Mike Smith, and Astrology, right, during the 136th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Baltimore. Shackleford won the race. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Shackleford, right, with Jesus Castanon aboard, crosses the finish line to win the 36th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Baltimore. Animal Kingdom, with John Velazquez aboard, took second place. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) / /
27.20 | 10.20 | 6.80
(11) Animal Kingdom
— | 4.20 | 3.60
— | — | 8.00
Paddy O'Prado wins Dixie Stakes 2011
Thoroughbred Times Story
THOROUGHBRED TIMES correspondent and horse racing blogger Teresa Genaro will be talking with notable racing personalities about their first Kentucky Derby experiences. On Thursday, Genaro talked to Kiaran McLaughlin and Dale Romans.
by Teresa Genaro
While bringing a horse to the Kentucky Derby (G1) for the first time is a thrill for any trainer, it holds special meaning for the trainers who have grown up on and around the Kentucky tracks. As Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Soldat, said this week, “The Breeders’ Cup might be considered our Super Bowl day, but the Kentucky Derby is our Super Bowl race.”
Trainer Dale Romans practically grew up on the Churchill Downs backstretch; his father was a trainer, and the first Derby that Romans recalls attending “on the front side” was in 1977, when Seattle Slew won it. He hasn’t missed once since.
“After that race, Seattle Slew became my favorite horse. I was 9, so I didn’t know a lot about handicapping, but even as a little kid, I knew that there was something special about him,” he recalled.
“I don’t really remember a lot of the details of the race. I just remember being in awe of how crowded it was, and of how he ran.
“Years later, when he was older and got sick, I went over to Three Chimneys. They gave me a tour, and they let me go pet him. And he bit me. But he’s still my favorite.”
The first horse that Romans trained to the Derby was Sharp Humor in 2006.
“It was exciting,” he said, “but it was a lot of stress, a lot more than the last two Derbies I’ve had horses in.”
Adding to the stress of that first Derby was that Romans had a TV crew following him around; Sharp Humor was one of the horses featured in The First Saturday in May, and leading up to the race the crew followed Romans and his horse, no doubt heightening the expectations and pressure for a hometown trainer making his first start in the big race. Sharp Humor finished 19th.
“It’s tough to be here and lose,” Romans admitted. “The walkover is the greatest thing ever. The walk back when you didn’t win is terrible.”
McLaughlin grew up in Lexington and spent his first Derby on the backside.
“I can’t tell you who won it, or even the exact year. I was working, and I first got licensed as a groom in 1979, so it was probably 1980 or 1981. I was here working for Jim Burchell, and I¬ watched the Derby from on top of barn 10; we climbed up on top of our barn as they ran down the backside. We’d have a big barbecue there.”
“I was working, so I wasn’t so into what horse won,” he said. “Still, it felt like a special day, with 100,000 people here. It was a party all week, but I had to work and get up early, so I wasn’t into partying so much.”
“I had my first horse in the Derby in 2005, Closing Argument, and he finished second. He had a great run, and at the eighth pole I thought we were going to win. We were on the lead. But he got beat half a length to Giacomo.”
He still smiles at the memory.
“Right after the race, you feel like it’s a great success. I was thinking, ‘He’s 72-1, he runs second – great, no pressure.’
“But then two minutes later, you say, ‘Damn! That was the Kentucky Derby! Wow!’ So it kind of hits you a little bit later: you almost won the Kentucky Derby.”
Teresa Genaro is a New York City-based correspondent of Thoroughbred Times who blogs at BrooklynBackstretch.com
After the Derby
After the Derby: Decompression
Trainer Dale Romans had an intense Derby day. The Kentucky native won the Grade 1 Humana Distaff with Sassy Image. He then saddled a slick colt in Shackleford, who finished a gutsy fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Finally, all that stress, all that buildup, crashed into a heap of buddies, Blue Moon, and brisket at the home of Dale Romans and his wife, Tammy Fox.
“For he’s a jolly good fellow!,” his friends sung, “which nobody can deny!”
“I’m glad everyone could be a part of it,” Romans said. “It was a great weekend. I look forward to it every year. Hopefully we can do it next year.”
“Happy Derby Day!,” yelled the friends.
They passed out cake and sipped bourbon. John Hennegan, one of the filmmakers of the documentary “The First Saturday in May,” and now a close friend of the family, strolled around capturing the night on his camera. There was no music. There was no yelling. The volume on the stereo was low. The night’s breeze brushed over the deck allowing Romans to finally relax.
“Decompress,” Romans said. Shackleford was Romans’ third Derby starter and the one who left the best taste in his mouth. In 2006 Sharp Humor ran “terrible.” In 2010 Paddy O’Prado closed for third but, “I thought we should’ve had second.” And he’s right.
Romans’ phone rang, “This is the owner. It’s the first time I talked to him.”
Romans’ daughter, Bailey, who has been to the Derby all of her 18 years, graduates from high school in early June, and plans on taking the pre-med track at Dayton University in hopes of becoming a dermatologist. For now. She said that could change.
Hennegan sidestepped to film her speaking and Bailey was quick to rib him for leaving most of her footage out of the documentary in favor of her brother Jacob. “More than bitterness,” she said. Once, she even had to snap a picture of her brother, father, and some fans who recognized Jacob and Romans from the movie. “He gave me the camera!,” Bailey said. “I get looked over.”
In the Romans’ kitchen hangs a framed photograph of a two-year-old Bailey on her tip-toes at her father’s barn. A horse craned its neck out and down to the ground. Bailey had two hands on its face and was trying to kiss it on the nose. All the other horses on the shedrow peered and watched almost as if they were jealous.
“I’ve been around it my whole life,” said Bailey. “The best part [of the Derby] is the walkout. The excitement from the crowd. You can’t recreate it. You hear the roar, ‘Dale! Dale! Shackleford! Shackleford!’”
Bailey is unequivocally proud her father because she knows how he started out in this game.
“His father was a trainer,” Bailey said. “He worked at the track and started mucking stalls, grooming, hot walking and made his way through the ranks, never thought he’d have a Derby mount. Now he has a horse in the Derby. It’s an accomplishment. My dad’s won huge races. He won the Dubai World Cup with Roses in May in 2005. But it’s not enough. They’re all great but the one race — scratch all others — would be to win the Derby.”
Which is why they’re all here, enjoying the refreshing May Derby breeze and forgiving weather of the night. The folks here have been tied to the Romans for years, no hangers-on, no cronies, they might as well be camping by a fire in the Australian Outback.
“We come together,” Bailey said. “My dad’s gone six months out of the year and at Derby time he comes home and things like this happen. Everyone’s together: his brother from California, his uncle from North Carolina, he’s the one who owns Sassy’s Image.”
Sassy Image sprung a 16-1 upset and, “We kept it in the family,” Bailey said. “My dad trains her, my mom rides her (in the mornings) and my uncle owns her.”
Archie, the family bulldog, scampered by, prompting Bailey to add, “He loves me and hates my brother.”
Then she looked around at all the people, the family, what the Derby and the grind have delivered, “I cherish these moments,” she said.
So too did Kyle Nagel, a longtime friend, who went from owning just a handful of horses with Romans to owning 32 seemingly overnight.
Once, at Saratoga, they ran a claimer named Super Forbes and won, back when beginnings were clothed in anonymity and when $10,000 claiming races were every bit as big as Grade 1s.
“Back then,” said Nagel, “it was a big party. It was all about being together, us, friends and family and raising our kids together. It was like we won the Kentucky Derby for Dale. It was so hard. We go on to win two, three, four races. I really believe that’s when Dale blossomed. He has a great eye for horses.”
“This couldn’t happen to better people,” Nagel said. “They are real racing people. This is a racing family, good-hearted, real people. Not Hollywood, not sexy, what they do is good and they’re good at what they do. He’s just a regular dude. I still remember Dale and the family at Saratoga.”
Jeff Cundiff, Romans’ neighbor, sat at the kitchen counter swirling red wine in a glass, and recalled earlier in the night when Hennegan showed both him and Romans video from right after the Derby.
Winning trainer Graham Motion bumped into Romans in the tunnel and was disoriented. He’d just won the Derby with Animal Kingdom, had tears in his eyes, had no idea where he was.
“Come this way, come this way,” Romans told Motion. Romans pointed out to the track, out to that sliver of earth that Animal Kingdom conquered. “Now, go get your horse.”
Cundiff said, “In my mind that’s called humility, it all boils down to humility. He’s all about taking care of other people. ‘Go get your horse.’ That is awesome.”
Sassy Image - 2011 Humana Distaff
Little Mike is facing a big mission in today's 25th running of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old gelding figures to receive plenty of attention from the bettors in the $500,000, Grade I race that immediately precedes the 137th Kentucky Derby. That's because he won three of the four graded stakes he ran at Florida's Gulfstream Park this year.
The Florida homebred, owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, faces a talented, full field of 13 others in the stakes for horses 3 years old and up. And he drew the No. 1 post position — not necessarily a kiss of death in the 11/8-mile Woodford Reserve, but something to consider.
“It's not the post position we would have preferred to have,” said Dale Romans, who took over as trainer of Little Mike in January. “It's going to be a tough race. … We hadn't expected it to come up like this when we put it in our plans.”
While No. 1 is dreaded in the 1¼-mile Derby because of the potential for getting shoved far back heading down the stretch for the first time, it's not quite the hazard on the turf. Besides, Romans says, Little Mike has something in his favor: speed.
A couple other entrants in the Woodford Reserve have shown they can turn on the jets. They include Get Stormy, an 8-1 shot coming off a front-running victory in the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland last month.
“They don't have his kind of speed,” Romans said of his horse, “and they're going to have to pass him to beat him. I don't expect any traffic problems, because I expect him to be on the front end.”
Little Mike was made the 6-1 co-third choice with WinStar Farm's Doubles Partner, a 4-year-old who won twice over the Churchill turf course in past seasons. Joe Bravo will ride Little Mike, who has won 7 of 13 starts and earned $366,000.
A victory by Sullimar Stables' Get Stormy, who drew the No. 7 post, would give the 5-year-old a Kentucky bourbon double after his strong performance in the Maker's Mark.
“He seems to be doing extra well,” trainer Tom Bush said. “He had a minor throat issue, and we tried different sprays and he seemed to respond very well. He's always been generally consistent
Earning the 4-1 favorite's role in the morning line is the 6-year-old Court Vision, a $2.6 million earner who drew the No. 12 post. In his 2011 debut in the Maker's Mark at Keeneland, he was a beaten favorite, finishing fourth to Get Stormy.
Court Vision, scheduled to be ridden by Robby Albarado before he was injured in a spill Wednesday, came up short in the past two Woodford Reserves, finishing third in 2009 and a neck behind General Quarters last year.
Another returnee is Battle of Hastings (fourth last year), who will start just outside Court Vision. The only other millionaire in the field, Battle of Hastings, will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who was aboard when he won the 11/8-mile River City Handicap last November at Churchill.
Not to be overlooked is Prince Will I Am, the Casa Farms 4-year-old who earned some notoriety in last year's Breeders' Cup Marathon when some bumping resulted in his disqualification from second to 10th. It also led to a jockeys' spat near the winner's circle. The 5-1 second choice starting from the No. 5 post will be ridden by John Velazquez, who finished first and third in Gulfstream graded stakes this year.
“He's really coming into his own,” said trainer Michelle Nihei, who will have about 20 horses stabled at Churchill for the spring meet. “I figured if we drew anywhere from four to eight in the post positions, he'd be in good shape.”
Even though the grass course has been inundated by rain the past two weeks, it's in great shape, thanks to an excellent drainage system. Even if showers develop this afternoon, it can take the water unless torrential rains come down. Some were saying Thursday that the course actually was feeling very firm.
The Woodford Reserve, which is limited to 14 starters, was oversubscribed, with three other horses on the also-eligible list. Romans had nominated another local favorite in 2010 Derby starter Paddy O'Prado but did not enter him. Instead, he is targeting the 4-year-old to make his 2011 debut in Pimlico's Dixie Handicap on Preakness Day.
“We thought about this race for him,” Romans said, “but to put him in was not what was best for the horse. It would have been more for us to race him here on a big day.”
Post time for the Woodford Reserve, the 10th race on the Derby Day program, is 4:46 p.m.
Paul Rolfes can be reached at (502) 582-4221.
Shackleford could be the one for Dale Romans
Spiral winner Animal Kingdom led a trio of prospective Kentucky Derby starters who worked over a fast track during a chaotic 15 minutes after the renovation break at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Dale Romans Racing Stable Selects Second Stride, Inc.
MARCH 23, 2011 - PROSPECT, KY - Leading thoroughbred race trainer Dale Romans has chosen Second Stride, Inc. to help transition and place 15 thoroughbred race horses currently in his care that are no longer competitive at the race track. Second Stride, Inc. was selected because of their specific knowledge with thoroughbreds off the track, rigorous adoption applicant screening and positive references from the racing industry.
“We had a few people come looking for horses during the years we have had them, but were not sure about the quality of the placement and unsure how to go about further screening and investigation of the leads,” said Laura Hernan, Account Manager, Romans Racing Stable, Inc. “I tried to make calls and do drive by investigations of the potential homes and then would get disappointed the further the interviews went with the candidates.”
Hernan came across Second Stride’s web site and immediately contacted them. Within a matter of days a plan was established with Second Stride, Inc. to get these horses prepared for adoption. The process consists of several elements including getting the horses groomed and polished, the colts will be castrated and then each horse will be photographed and evaluated for placement in the Second Stride program. Second Stride also does a thorough pedigree check to determine what job the horses may be best suited for based on their bloodlines, as well as their physical attributes. Each horse is also handled to determine temperament. All these steps help ensure the best possible adoption match.
The 15 horses will stay under the care of the Romans Racing Stable at their training facility in Goshen, Ky. Romans is the sole owner of the horses, after acquiring most of them from various owners. Romans has paid to keep the riding/training and every day care going on the horses until he could find a situation where he knew they would have the best chance of transitioning to a new job.
Second Stride, Inc. will manage all adoption applications and screenings, advertisement of the horses and the adoption process from start to finish. Second Stride, Inc. has a thorough application process with character, veterinarian and facility checks and verification. In 2010, Second Stride, Inc. was able to place 65 thoroughbreds in quality homes.
“These horse may no longer be competitive at the race track but many of our graduates are winning in eventing, show jumping, dressage or excelling as pleasure horses,” said Kim Smith, president and founder, Second Stride, Inc. “We support the racing industry and we established Second Stride, Inc. to ensure that there was a place for these horses to go and be productive in their post-racing years.”
Second Stride has placed many horses for trainers in the Skylight/Goshen area such as Trainer Tom Drury and Donnie Grego located at the Skylight Training center in Skylight, Ky. Tom Drury of Drury Racing Stables said, “Second Stride has helped me place 100 percent of our off track thoroughbred into quality homes and has been nothing short of a Godsend for my stable. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to do the same.”
Second Stride, Inc. also helps rescue thoroughbreds in need as funding permits and hosts educational booths at community festivals and area horse events. Kim Smith, president and founder, Second Stride, Inc. commented, “We try to educate the community about the usefulness of the thoroughbred horse for many kinds of different riding disciplines. There are many myths about thoroughbred race horses and the racing community. We try to show the general equine community the extreme work ethics and trainability of these horses and the dedication and love the race trainers and owners have for them.”
Second Stride is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization providing professional rehabilitation, retraining, and placement for retired thoroughbred racehorses in qualified homes so that they may reach their full potential in a productive second career. Second Stride is made up of volunteers who are active in other areas of the racing industry: owners, partnership managers, handicappers, trainers. We are working to improve racing from within, and know from first-hand experience how many people may have the desire to retire a horse safely, but at times find that difficult to do. If you would like to get involved by volunteering or donating to help expand the number of thoroughbreds Second Stride can care for, please go to www.secondstride.org or friend on Facebook at “Second Stride Thoroughbreds”.
Black N Beauty