Romans Prime Eclipse Award Candidate

31 January 2009: Trainer Dale Romans at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.
Dale Romans graced the winner’s circle following nine Grade 1 stakes in 2012, stating a pretty convincing case to be considered a prime candidate for this year’s Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer.

Whether or not the 46-year-old native of Louisville, Ky. is honored individually at the Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19, he will ride the wave of his growing success into the New Year with “the next wave of good ones.”

Dewey Square and Gulfport, a pair of well-bred 2-year-olds who have shown enormous potential in recent starts, figure to attract a lot of attention from Gulfstream fans as they embark on the road to the Kentucky Derby (May 4).

Romans hasn’t hidden his feelings about Dewey Square’s potential.
“The sky’s the limit,” Romans said.

Dewey Square, a son of 2006 Preakness Stakes winner and Eclipse champion Bernardini, is owned by breeder Siena Farms LLC.

"He was an expensive buy-back at Saratoga,” said Romans of the colt who didn’t meet his $575,000 reserve at the 2011 Fasig Tipton Select Yearling Sale at Saratoga. “He’s got a quality pedigree and he looks the part.”

His owner would have no problem selling Dewey Square for a lot more than $575,000 now. The Kentucky-bred colt won at first asking at Hoosier Park on Sept. 21, capturing his debut by nearly 12 lengths. He showed a distinct fondness for the Churchill Downs surface – something that will not go unnoticed should he make it back to the Louisville track on the first Saturday in May – when he won an entry-level allowance race by four lengths in October.

Although he tasted defeat for the first time with a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill last month, his trainer was encouraged by the strong-closing effort behind multiple-stakes winner Uncaptured and highly regarded Frac Daddy.

“He has all the right parts to be a top horse,” said Romans, who has yet to finalize a schedule for Dewey Square.

Romans is strongly considering the $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 26 as Gulfport’s first start as a 3-year-old. The son of Unbridled’s Song finished off his juvenile campaign with back-to-back victories at Churchill Downs.

Romans purchased the Kentucky-bred colt for Mike Rutherford and Michael Lauffer for $775,000 at the 2011Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale at Saratoga.

“That’s the highest price I paid for one that I picked out myself,” he said.

Gulfport is out of Dream Supreme, a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner by Seeking the Gold.

“He’s so well balanced. He’s such a nice-balance, nice-moving horse,” Romans said. “He got such a strong pedigree.”

The Derby prospects will have some tough acts to follow, after the old wave rolled over the competition last season.

Romans was a player on the Grade 1 scene throughout the 2012 season with a trio of Thoroughbred racing’s biggest attractions: Little Mike, Shackleford and Dullahan.

Little Mike, a multiple-stakes winner at Gulfstream the past two seasons, captured three major stakes, including the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Arlington Million and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, to establish himself as a serious candidate to win some hardware at the Eclipse Ceremony.

Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness Stakes winner who became wildly popular with racing fans, captured the Metropolitan Mile and the Clark Handicap in his final year of racing, while Dullahan was a Grade 1 winner on both coasts, capturing the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Tapitsfly followed up a victory in the Honey Fox (G2) at Gulfstream last season with Grade 1 victories in the First Lady and Just a Game.

Shackleford and Tapitsfly have been retired but Little Mike, Dullahan and multiple-stakes winner Silver Max, among others, will be back for the 2013 season.



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