GUYS REWARD NEARLY GAVE ROMANS 40-1 SHOCKER IN COMMONWEALTH TURF – As the second-leading trainer in Churchill Downs history with 511 victories, it is rare when Dale Romans sends out a runner in any race beneath the historic Twin Spires at 40-1 odds.
It happened Saturday in the Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) for 3-year-olds and Michael Bruder’s Guys Reward almost delivered at those long odds. The 3-year-old son of Grand Reward finished second in Saturday’s race, just a length back of favored Yankee Fourtune, who remained unbeaten in five races on grass.
“I think he is going to break through next year,” Romans said Sunday morning. “He is steadily improving and I think he will be a top horse next year. His last two races have been very good.”
Guys Reward returned from a two-month layoff to score an allowance victory at Keeneland in October prior to his run in the Commonwealth Turf. In the spring, he had run third in the Transylvania (GIII) at Keeneland and third in the American Turf (GII) here on Derby Eve.
Romans ranks seventh all time at Churchill Downs with 24 stakes victories and he could add to that total in the final two weeks of the meet that closes Sunday, Nov. 28.
Persuading, fourth in the Valley View (GIII) and the Garden City (GI) in her past two starts, is nominated to Saturday’s Mrs. Revere (GII) and Quiet Temper, a two-time graded stakes winner who has been idle since late June, is nominated to the Thanksgiving Day Falls City Handicap (GII).
“I’m on the fence with both of them,” Romans said. “But the 2-year-olds could both possibly run.”
The juveniles in question are Stormy Story, a six-length maiden winner here Nov. 3, for the Golden Rod (GII) on Nov. 27 and Z Appeal, a maiden winner on the dirt here in June and a stakes winner on turf in July, for the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) the same day.
Romans also nominated First Dude to the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) to be run on Friday, Nov. 26.
"I don’t think he’ll run,” Romans said of the eighth-place finisher in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) behind Blame. “He came out of the race good, but we just nominated him to see what was in there.”
Romans’ other Breeders’ Cup Classic starter, fifth-place finisher Paddy O’Prado, is done for the year. “He won’t run again until Gulfstream,” Romans said.
FUGITIVE ANGEL COULD FILL THE SHOES OF FOREVER TOGETHER FOR AUGUSTIN, SHEPPARD – Barry Wiseman, assistant to trainer Jonathan Sheppard, said goodbye on Friday to multiple Grade I winner Forever Together, one of the brightest stars in the roster of horses trained by Sheppard for George Strawbridge Jr.’s Augustin Stable.
“She went to Stone Farm a couple days ago,” Wiseman said of the 6-year-old mare. “She only got beat four necks and a length last week.”
That was in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI), a race she won in 2008 and finished third in last year before dead-heating for sixth here on Nov. 5.
But Augustin could have another grass filly waiting in the wings in Fugitive Angel, a Pennsylvania-bred by 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup who is pointing toward Saturday’s $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-old fillies on turf.
"Now, wouldn’t that be nice,” Wiseman said of the prospect of another Forever Together in the barn. “Jonathan really likes her. She has been training well and is a very mature 3-year-old.”
Fugitive Angel, who is expected to work on the turf here Tuesday, is four-for-four this year including three stakes victories. Two of the stakes wins came in Pennsylvania-bred races with the third a 3 ¾-length romp in the Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland on Oct. 22.
“The Keeneland win was nice,” Wiseman said. “She keeps improving, but you just never know when they will stop improving.”
Fugitive Angel already has accomplished more as a 3-year-old than Forever Together could.
"Forever Together won right off the bat, but it wasn’t until we put her on the grass that she showed her true form,” Wiseman said. “She went to Chicago (in May 2008 as a 4-year-old) and won the Reluctant Guest with Earlie Fires and then ran third in the Just A Game (GI). After that race he (Sheppard) said ‘I think we can go places with this filly.’ ”
And go places they did. Forever Together raced on both coasts and in Canada and earned an Eclipse Award as top female grass performer in 2008. She closed her career with a record on the turf of 18-6-4-6 and earnings on the grass of $2,754,499.
FLAT OUT NEARLY READY TO RETURN TO THE RACES FOR DICKEY – As days at the track go, Saturday was a pretty good one for trainer Scooter Dickey.
He won the first race with his initial starter of Fall Meet, She’s an Alpha Gam, a horse that Dickey owns. Earlier in the day, he watched Flat Out turn in his second work of the month.
Owned by Oxbow Racing, Flat Out was on the Kentucky Derby trail in 2009 after a victory in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park until being sidelined by injury less than two weeks before the Run for the Roses.
Initially a stress fracture in a shoulder put Flat Out on the shelf and then it was a problem with quarter cracks.
“The way he won the Smarty Jones, I expected him to be really good because he won that race very easy,” Dickey said. “Then he got hurt. It has been a long wait, 18 months. We had him back in training and then he had the foot issue.
“We had to cut the foot away in the spring and let it grow back. Everything has grown back on the foot and he wants to run.”
After galloping on the farm in the summer, Flat Out was moved to the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington where he began working in late August.
“They made sure everything was all right and then I got him back when I came in from Monmouth,” Dickey said. “He is ready to run here if there is a race for him.”
WORK TAB – Giant Oak, who was placed fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (GIII) and is nominated to the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI), worked a half-mile in :47.60 after the break on a track labeled as “good” for trainer Chris Block. The move was the best of 31 at the distance. … Sassy Image, who swept the Pocahontas (GII) and Golden Rod last year, had the second-quickest half-mile of the morning (:47.80) for Romans.