Race of the Week 2017

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Morning Clocker Report

Dullahan - Fast Belmont Work Part Of A Pattern

Dullahan captures the 2012 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
The one question I ~ Molly Jo ~ have been asked most this week is not “Can I’ll Have Another win the Triple Crown?” Surprisingly it’s been “Why did Romans work Dullahan so fast?”
The answer to both, actually, is not simple.
There are a myriad of factors that influence I’ll Have Another’s chances on Saturday – from the grueling Triple Crown schedule to the tough task of three weeks rest to the young jockey – and I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball or the ability to predict the future (except to say Go Kings! in the Stanley Cup).
But Dullahan working quick? That I can help with.
First off, you have to understand that no two trainers train the same. I know that sounds logical, but it’s easy to forget when all we see are the printed final workout times underneath the past performances. When you see a work, you owe it to yourself as a handicapper to find out if that was under pressure or in hand, quick early/slow late or just on a loose rein. Common in Southern California, services like Grade1Racing (which now has clockers coast to coast) describe for you how a work happened, which leads to a better understanding of the horse’s true form.
In terms of Mine That Bird’s little half-brother… Dale Romans is the Bob Baffert of the east coast: if a horse can make it through his program, they’re as solid as a horse can get. This isn’t about speed: it’s about bone and knowing how to build it. If you take a horse that has a strong foundation and the will to win, good trainers can mold the talent.
You have to remember that workouts aren’t about one morning at one track: they are a pattern that must be analyzed ~ even more so than past performances. There are a million ways to lose a race, but pretty much the only way a work goes wrong is a loose horse interfering, it starts to rain, a workmate unexpectedly jumps in, or your rider misjudges the pole.
After Dullahan got sick from a cough going ‘round the Gulfstream backside in January, Romans did a masterful job of getting this horse fit quickly but safely with plenty of long, strong gallops each morning. Before running second in the Palm Beach upon return, the chestnut worked 1:00.3 with a monstrous gallop out a week after a 59.1 that looked like he was just strolling through the stretch.
Dullahan got one last easy leg stretching move over the Gulfstream dirt before shipping to Keeneland for the Blue Grass: where he fired a freakishly fast 57.4 bullet over his favorite surface.” He trained well enough into the Derby but has never looked truly comfortable underneath the Twin Spires. Romans chose to skip the Preakness and bring a fresh horse to New York, but not before going old school and working a mile (truly 1-1/8 mi. given the strong gallop out).
Perhaps because it was unconventional or because the time wasn’t flashy, people have forgotten this work. At this point, the colt doesn’t need any extra fitness: if he ain’t fit by now, he ain’t never gonna be. This was about getting the colt mentally ready to go the furthest he’s ever run and probably ever will go. As Bruno noted, “the last three furlongs in a decent 36.3. Not the kind of drill you are going to be wowed by, but the kind of drill where you have to like what you see.”
People talk about Doug O’Neill shipping I’ll Have Another early to get him accustomed to the surface… he’s not the only one. Romans shipped Dullahan north a week early, put Castellano up for the first time, and sent the pair for spin around Big Sandy. As Javier said after, “The man said ‘45’ and I said no way, that can’t be right. If you’d asked me I’d have said we went in 48 and galloped out in a minute. He went so easily. I was like a statue on him.”
When one of the better riders in the game is surprised by the horse (in a good way), you know you’re doing something right. Sometimes a fast work is to sharpen speed ~ that’s not the case here. I believe this was a “let him stretch his legs however he wants to do it” like we saw before the Palm Beach and the Blue Grass (coincidentally his two best efforts). Interestingly, the son of Even the Score is already handling Belmont’s dirt better than he ever handled Churchill.
However he runs on Saturday, Dullahan is certainly physically and mentally fit enough to handle the grueling 1-1/2 mi. The colt has certainly flourished in the Big Apple, but one question remains… is I’ll Have Another the next Triple Crown winner


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Older Comments about Dullahan - Fast Belmont Work Part Of A Pattern...

Obviously if in Seabiscuits case it could be done once, if needed, it could done again.
It wasn't long term, but your comment reflected an absolute that he can't be retrained. I was merely pointing out that in a given circumstance a horse can be.
enlighten me to any LONG TERM change in that horse's style? Match races are disntinctly diffferent contests to any other contest
Tom smith was able to train Seabiscuit to break fast and take the lead for the match race with War Admiral. Coming from behind was The Biscuit normal running style.
You cannot change a horse's running style, it is hardwired in them
You know who worked fst all the time? Aldebaran...Was hat one ever up close during the race??
I am really enjoying your perspective on training. See you at BEL tomorrow!
Wonder if this speed work will also have him closer to pace, since big closers normally don't fair too well in the Belmont.
Sounds like Dullahan is primed to run a big one come Saturday.
Oops, my bad. Well in that case, Molly Jo, replace your name where Bruno's was :)
AmbitiousD, this post was contributed by Bruno's partner, Molly Jo Rosen :)
Very interesting article, Bruno. I think its interesting that trainers like Baffert and Romans go for good bones and building strong ones. I look at a horse like Shackleford, and wonder how he could take such a grueling 2011 campaign, especially with his running style. I would love to see that kind of durability out of a horse like Dullahan

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Meet Bruno & Molly
Bruno DeJulio and Molly Jo Rosen have a lifetime of experience in the Thoroughbred industry.
Together, they run the Post Parade companies: from a successful racing syndicate and bloodstock business to a popular podcast. Both are heavily involved with Grade1Racing (the tools to make you a better bettor!), as Bruno is the Chief Clocker and Molly Jo the Community Coordinator.
Separately, Bruno has been a workout analyst and owner/breeder for over 20 years and is the author of “Bruno on Workouts: Exposing the Mystery” ~ the only book to take handicappers and fans inside the world of workouts. He also offers a daily analysis of racing across the country at Racingwithbruno.com.
Molly Jo has been involved with racing from coast to coast: from TVG and Churchill Downs to Smarty Jones’ personal assistant to managing a major New York racing operation. She serves her blend of pony punditry at Focused Filly.

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