Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: Romans lining up his charges

February 23, 2019 02:06pm

Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.

When it comes to the Kentucky Derby trail, Iowa’s Albaugh Family Stable and trainer Dale Romans, who is based out of Churchill Downs, have qualified each of the last three years — and won a prep race along the way.

Admire will give Albaugh Family Stables its next chance at making it into this year’s field, and racing manager Jason Loutsch said “all options are on the table,” including next Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (G2), as they decide on the best spot.


The Cairo Prince colt made his 3-year-old debut in the Feb. 2 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, finishing fifth, beaten 5 ½ lengths by the winner Tax.

“We hadn’t run since November, so it was kind of a long layoff and traveling to New York, getting beat by five lengths by a good horse,” Loutsch said. “Tax is obviously a really good horse. We think we can move forward off that race and that’s the plan.”


Loutsch mentioned the the March 9 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs and the March 16 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park as other potential next race spots.

The Fountain of Youth would mean no travel for Admire because Romans bases there in the winter, but the race is shaping up tough. Stakes winners Signalman, Maximus Mischief and Vekoma are also under consideration for the Derby prep, as well as eye-catching debut winner Hidden Scroll.

“That race looks like it’s coming up salty, really salty,” Loutsch said. “We’ll leave it on the table. If it ends up horses are not going there, we’ll look at it. But those are the three options. We’ll go to one of those. I prefer to stay in Florida, if it is Gulfstream or Tampa, just for the travel purposes. It’s a little easier for us.”

Romans also trains Calumet Farm’s Everfast, the Holy Bull (G2) runner-up in his last start. Both Everfast and Admire were on the work tab Saturday at Gulfstream.

“I’m not sure which one is running, but I’ll figure it out in the next day or two,” Romans said of the Fountain of Youth. “They both worked well enough to run.”


The Withers marked the first start for Admire since breaking his maiden Nov. 24 over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs. He settled just off the pace and held off a late runner to win by half a length going 1 1/8 miles. 

Admire, a $360,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, did not make his career debut until Nov. 2. He ran fifth first time out, finishing directly behind Gray Attempt, who later won Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes on the Derby trail. Loutsch said connections went easy on Admire in the summer due to his size, allowing him develop.

“He’s just really matured. He was a big, lanky 2-year-old, immature a little bit, and now he’s really filling into his body and figuring out what he’s supposed to be doing,” he said.


Though lightly raced, connections expect Admire to improve with a race under him this year.

“We took our time with him and obviously we prefer to have a little more foundation under him than three career starts,” Loutsch said, “but I think he’s going to go forward in the next couple of races and we’re excited. We have a chance.”

Albaugh Family Stable and Romans are also preparing for the race return of Mr. Ankeny, who has been away since finishing sixth in the Oct. 6 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. Loutsch said Mr. Ankeny spiked a fever following the race and received a break.

The Into Mischief colt returned to the work tab at Gulfstream Park nearly a month ago and will likely get another chance at the Derby trail. Loutsch said connections are considering either an allowance race or the March 9 Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, depending on how the fields shape up.


“We’ll take a shot one last time in April at one of the races if he comes back out of those races good.” Loutsch said. “He’s doing good. We prefer to bring him back a little softer, maybe in a one-turn mile or an allowance race, and then take a shot.”

Come On Gerry also hit the Derby trail for Albaugh Family Stable in Gulfstream’s Holy Bull Stakes (G2), finishing eighth. The Holy Bull was the first race back for Come On Gerry following his Dec. 28 maiden win at Gulfstream and only his third lifetime start.

No decisions on his next spot have been made yet, but Loutsch said a softer spot in allowance company is being considered before another possible try at the Derby trail.


“They’re only 3 once and we’ve only got about 70 days until the Derby,” he said, “so you got to start moving.”

Derby links

 Maximum Security, Global Campaign and Dream Maker are among the new names on the rise in our user-generated Kentucky Derby rankings. Take a look at the latest list.

 On a busy morning for works at Gulfstream, Kenny McPeed breezed both Signalman and Holy Bull runner-up Harvey Wallbanger, then firmed up plans for both.

 Tikhvin Flew will get his shot on the Derby trail in the Gotham Stakes running for Bloom Racing, which has campaigned horses such as Midnight Bisou and Snapper Sinclair in recent years.

In case you missed it…

Friday’s Derby Daily report discussed Hidden Scroll, a Fountain of Youth headliner who wades into deeper waters after registering a 104 Beyer Speed Figure on debut.


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Horse Racing Nation's Kentucky Derby daily blog counts down to the May 4, 2019, race at Churchill Downs with a once-a-day update on all things Derby. Get the latest news and chatter, workout reports and a look at fields for upcoming preps all in once place.

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