Romans Reflects on a Memorable Derby Weekend

May 12, 2012 Travers Manley and Gary Yunt

Dale Romans has been training horses for more than 25 years, he has saddled more than 1,500 winners, his runners have earned nearly $70 million and his long list of graded-stakes wins include such prestigious races as the Dubai World Cup (Grade I) and the Preakness (GI).        

Last weekend, Romans added another feather to his cap when he saddled Silver Max, Shackleford and Little Mike at Churchill Downs to win three graded stakes races during a two-day span for the first time in his career. Silver Max won the American Turf Presented by RAM (GII) on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard, while Shackleford took the Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII) and Little Mike won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day.

“It was definitely one of the best weekends of my career,” Romans said. “It ranks up there with Preakness weekend last year.”

In 2011, Romans won the Preakness with Shackleford and also saddled Paddy O’Prado to win the Dixie (GII) on the undercard.

The 45-year-old native of Louisville is no stranger to the Churchill Downs Winner’s Circle and is ranked second in career victories beneath the Twin Spires with 543. Bill Mott is the all-time wins leader with 661.

“It’s always special to win a big race at Churchill Downs,” Romans said.

The most notable “big race” at Churchill Downs that Romans has yet to win is the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). Last Saturday, Romans finished third for a second time in America’s greatest race with Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass (GI). Dullahan was the fourth Kentucky Derby starter for Romans.  Paddy O’Prado was third to Super Saver for Donegal and Romans in the 2010 “Run for the Roses.”

“The three big wins helped, but it (the Derby) was definitely disappointing,” Romans said. “That night I left the track with mixed emotions. It’s tough to come so close and come up short, but looking back on it now I feel a lot better about the whole weekend.”    

It was announced Friday that Dullahan will bypass the Preakness and be pointed to the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 9 and, earlier in the week, co-owner Mike Lauffer noted Shackleford will head to the Met Mile (GI) at Belmont Park on May 28. On Saturday morning, Romans said Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Silver Max would next start at Arlington Park in the $125,000 Arlington Classic on May 26 or the $200,000 American Derby (GIII) on July 14.

No plans have been made for Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike, although Romans mentioned the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) as a possible year-end goal.

COZZETTI TO WORK SUNDAY FOR PREAKNESS – The Albaugh Family Stables LLC’s Cozzetti, fourth in the Arkansas Derby (GI) in his most recent start, is scheduled to work Sunday for trainer Dale Romans in preparation for next Saturday’s Preakness (GI). It would be Cozzetti’s third work since the Arkansas Derby.

“He’s a nice horse but he needs to step and run like he trains,” said Romans, who won the Preakness last year with Shackleford.

Jose Lezcano, who has been aboard for Cozzetti’s past two starts, has the call in the Preakness.

Under exercise rider Romero Cordache, Cozzetti galloped 1 ½ miles over a fast track after the morning renovation break.

Morning gallops were the order of the day for other horses under consideration for the Preakness housed at Churchill Downs.

Zayat Stables LLC and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s Bodemeister, runner-up to I’ll Have Another in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (GI), visited the starting gate and then galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider George Alvarez following the 8 o’clock renovation break for track maintenance. Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison, sixth in the Kentucky Derby, galloped 1 ½ miles under Alvarez before the morning break. Both colts are trained by Bob Baffert.

Trainer Steve Asmussen’s two potential Preakness entrants, Stonestreet Stables’ Hierro and J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Isn’t He Clever, galloped before the morning renovation break. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was aboard both horses.

Five-time Preakness winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer to the track as it opened at 6 o’clock for a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Joel Cano.

Eleventh in the Kentucky Derby, Optimizer will be ridden in the Preakness by Corey Nakatani.  Lukas said Optimizer may work before he vans to Pimlico on Tuesday. Rain is forecast for the Louisville area beginning Saturday night and continuing through the day Sunday.

Dr. Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing’s Hansen galloped Saturday morning at the nearby Trackside Training Center under exercise rider Joel Barrientos for trainer Mike Maker.

Ninth in the Kentucky Derby, the 2-year-old champion of 2011 remains a possible candidate for the Preakness with a decision expected Monday or Tuesday.

SUM OF THE PARTS TO TEST TURF IN SUNDAY FEATURE Klaravich Stables Inc. and William Lawrence’s Sum of the Parts, sixth in the inaugural Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in November, will make his turf debut in Sunday’s featured allowance race for 3-year-olds & up at five furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

Sum of the Parts made his 3-year-old debut on April 20 at Keeneland and won a six-furlong allowance race over the Polytrack by 7 ¾ lengths. Trainer Tom Amoss said that performance went into the decision to try the 3-year-old son of Speightstown on the lawn.

“He ran really well over the Polytrack,” Amoss said. “He also has a good turf pedigree and we thought it’d be a good idea to try him on the turf now to keep our options open down the road.”

With Julien Leparoux in the irons, Sum of the Parts set comfortable fractions and led every step of the way at Keeneland.

 “I was surprised they let him go by himself like that (opening fractions of :23.32 and :46.43),” Amoss said.

Sum of the Parts will not only have to handle the change in surface, but he also will attempt to beat older horses for the first time.

“He fits well in here,” Amoss said. “But he will have to beat some good older horses. I think (trainer Ken) McPeek’s horse (Ballyclough) will be tough.”

While Sum of the Parts will be racing on the Matt Winn Turf Course for the first time Sunday, it will be his fourth start beneath the Twin Spires. Prior to his run in the aforementioned Juvenile Sprint, Sum of the Parts broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his career debut and then finished fourth as the odds-on favorite in the Bashford Manor (GIII).

Sum of the Parts also is entered in Tuesday night’s $100,000 Tom Ridge at six furlongs on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs, but Amoss said he would run at Churchill Downs as long as the race is not taken off the turf. 

BARN TALK Peachtree Stable’s Mamma Kimbo, undefeated in two starts and winner of the Fantasy (G2) in her most recent outing, worked a bullet five furlongs at Churchill Downs in :59.60 in preparation for an anticipated start in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

With jockey Shaun Bridgmohan up and working over a fast track, Mamma Kimbo produced fractions of :12, :23.80, :35.40, :47.60 and galloped out in 1:12.60. Of the 17 works at the distance, the next fastest clocking of the morning was 1:01.80.

“(Trainer) Bob (Baffert) said he wanted 59 and change and out in 1:12 and change and that’s what we got,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to Baffert. “That’s her.”

Also working toward a possible start in the Black-Eyed Susan was Bluegrass Hall’s Colonial Empress for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Eleventh in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), Colonial Empress covered a half-mile in :47.80, second fastest of 53 at the distance. …

Another notable worker on a busy Saturday at Churchill Downs was Carolyn Wilson’s Arena Elvira, winner of the Falls City Handicap (GII) beneath the Twin Spires last November, who breezed four furlongs in :48.40 for trainer Bill Mott. The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper was third in her most recent start, the Sixty Sails Handicap (GIII) at Hawthorne.

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