Romans can't wait to 'see where we stand' with Dennis' Moment

By Jennie Rees/Ellis Park
September 13, 2019 09:00am
Romans can't wait to 'see where we stand' with Dennis' Moment
Photo: Coady Photography
A pair of electrifying Ellis Park maiden winners headline Churchill Downs' $200,000 graded stakes that launch the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks series, as well as providing the winners an entry fees-paid spot in the Breeders' Cup.

Albaugh Family Stables’ 19 ¼-length Ellis Park maiden-winner Dennis’ Moment heads ten 2-year-olds entered in the 38th running of Saturday’s $200,000 Iroquois Stakes (Grade 3) at Churchill Downs.
 
The 1 1/16-mile Iroquois is the first scoring race on the 2019-20 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” – the series of 35 races that will ultimately determine the field for the 146th running for the May 2, 2020, race. Points awarded to the top four Iroquois finishers will be 10-4-2-1 as part of the 19-race “Prep Season” that showcases foundation-building races in advance of the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series,” which begins in late February.
 
The Iroquois also is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” program, with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
 
Dennis’ Moment, the likely odds-on favorite in the Iroquois, dominated a field of 12 on July 27 at Ellis Park. The colt by Tiznow has recorded three-straight five-furlong bullet workouts leading into Saturday’s Iroquois, including his latest move in 58.80 seconds last Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
 
“I can only think of one other horse that I’ve trained that has shown this much potential as a 2-year-old and that’s Not This Time," said trainer Dale Romans, referring to his 2016 Iroquois winner who and was second to Classic Empire in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. “I think we are all looking at a potential future star. Even though this horse is only a maiden winner, the way he was able to just simply dominate the competition that day at Ellis Park left me breathless. I am going to start acting like a football coach and say ‘one race at a time’ with him. Let’s just get it done Saturday and then see where we stand.”
 
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Dennis’ Moment, who drew post position No. 8.

“It’s exciting to be right in this horse’s backyard for the Iroquois,” owner Dennis Albaugh told Churchill Downs publicity. “It’s a big deal to pick up points this early for the Kentucky Derby. That will make things next year a little easier. This horse just amazes me how easy he strides. You look at other horses on the track and then see him, and his stride is just so perfect. He seems to get better every work leading into the race.


“I remember calling Dale a couple days after the race to make sure how he came out of the race and Dale told me ‘he was perfect.’ I just hope he can now live up to the hype because he could be very special.”

 
Also entered in the Iroquois is TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile winner Rowdy Yates. Owned by L and N Racing and trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Rowdy Yates won his debut at Churchill Downs by 4 ¾ lengths and finished second to Phantom Boss in the $125,000 Bashford Manor (G3) before taking the Ellis Park Juvenile by 2 1/4 lengths over Iroquois entrant Letmeno.
 
The complete Iroquois field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Zyramid (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen); (Calvin Borel, Ian Wilkes); Scabbard (Corey Lanerie, Eddie Kenneally); Rowdy Yates (Tyler Baze, Asmussen); Ellis three-length maiden winner Automate (Florent Geroux, Keith Desormeaux); Flute Maker (Jose Ortiz, Kenny McPeek); Ellis 6 1/4-length maiden winner Juggernaut (James Graham, Desormeaux); Dennis’ Moment (Irad Ortiz Jr., Romans); Lebda (Trevor McCarthy, Claudio Gonzalez); and January Won (Brian Hernandez, McPeek).
 
The filly equivalent of Dennis’ Moment at Ellis Park’s summer meet was LNJ Foxwoods’ 12 ½-length maiden winner Portrait, who tops a field of nine 2-year-old fillies entered in Saturday’s 51st running of the $200,000 Pocahontas (G2). The 1 1/16-mile race opens the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points system that will determine the field of 14 for America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies next spring.
 
The Pocahontas also is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
 
Trained by Brad Cox, Portrait debuted on the turf at Ellis Park, where she finished third as the 8-5 post-time favorite. In her second-career start, Portrait dominated a field of seven 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on dirt to win convincingly under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
 
The field for the Pocahontas, in order of post position (with jockey and trainer): Shadilee (Julien Leparoux, Mike Maker); Ellis Park Debutante third-place finisher His Glory (James Graham, Tom Amoss); Portrait (Shaun Bridgmohan, Brad Cox); Lazy Daisy (Abel Cedillo, Doug O’Neill); Blood Curdling (Corey Lanerie, Dane Kobiskie); Morning Gold (Jose Ortiz, Kenny McPeek); British Idiom (Irad Ortiz Jr., Cox); Lotta Ott (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); and Addilyn (Miguel Mena, Antonio Sano).
         
In last year’s edition, Ellis Park Debutante winner Serengeti Empress cruised to a 19 ½-length Pocahontas score prior to her eventual victory as a 3-year-old in the Kentucky Oaks.

The 1-2 finishers in Ellis Park's signature $125,000 Groupie Doll Stakes for fillies and mares also are running Saturday at Churchill Downs, though in separate stakes.

Groupie Doll winner Go Google Yourself runs in the $200,000, Grade 3 Locust Grove at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Paul McGee for Jay Em Ess Stables, Go Google Yourself recorded her first stakes victory in the $125,000, though she was graded stakes-placed. The 4-year-old filly by Into Mischief has been the picture of consistency with five wins, four seconds and three thirds through 16 starts and has banked $342,985 in earnings. Go Google Yourself, who drew post 7, has Brian Hernandez Jr. back in the saddle.
 
Groupie Doll runner-up Divine Queen will cut back in distance to six furlongs as she takes on seven other fillies and mares in the $125,000 Open Mind. Owned by Carl Hurst and William “Buff” Bradley, Divine Queen last year scored a 51-1 upset score in the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes during the September meet. Trained by Bradley, Divine Queen has recorded three of her five career victories at Churchill Downs. Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel has the mount on Divine Queen from the rail.

 

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