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2012 Eclipse Awards: Dale Romans
By Byron King
Dale Romans didn’t lead all trainers in earnings in 2012, nor did he win the most graded stakes races.
He did, however, win a number of the races that mattered most, notching Grade 1 victories in the Woodford Reserve, Arlington Million, and Breeders’ Cup Turf with champion grass horse finalist Little Mike; the Blue Grass and Pacific Classic with synthetic specialist Dullahan; the Just a Game and First Lady with female turf miler Tapitsfly; and the Met Mile and Clark with Shackleford.
The Clark victory by Shackleford, who gave Romans his first victory in a Triple Crown race when he won the Preakness in 2011, proved particularly rewarding – coming in his final race before being retired to stud.
Making these prestigious victories all the more noteworthy is that they came for a trainer whose stable is made up of a smaller percentage of stakes horses relative to others among the leaders of his profession.
Romans, 46, still has a stable full of allowance horses and claiming runners, too. And many of those horses, just like his stakes runners, fulfilled their potential in 2012 – resulting in Romans winning the spring Churchill Downs training title outright at his hometown track and later sharing leading trainer honors there with Ken McPeek in the fall.
Romans also won something else in 2012: The Big Sport of Turfdom Award, an annual honor awarded by the Turf Publicists of America to a person who enhanced coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists.
From a barn full of claimers a grade one winner emerges and is not only the winner of the race but the winner of the public hearts. The fella shows up and is as glorious in defeat as in the winners circle because he is always there taking a swing at it. Think I am speaking of Shackleford? I could be, but I am speaking of his trainer who has learned the lesson that you can't win if you don't show up. This is what racing is all about.
Congratulations, Mr. Romans, on a job well done last year. Unfortunately your star pupil, LITTLE MIKE couldn't share the podium with you. I guess winning 3 of the biggest Grade 1 turf races of the year wasn't enough for some people. It was for many of us. Thank you for an eminently enjoyable season.
Congratulations, Mr. Romans, on a truly well-deserved victory. The tough, under-rated fighter Little Mike, the mighty Shackleford, the talented Tapitsfly and synthetic master Dullahan were just some of the fabulous runners you brought to the table this year. You always have your horses ready to do battle. And you were the Voice of Sensibility and Reason during that hideous special barn debacle pre-Belmont Stakes. You mostly made all the right moves in 2012 and you deserve this honor. Congratulations, again.
And the Eclipe Booby prize goes to Dick Dutrow Jr
Nobody's beaten you today Dale, have your victory speech ready! Truly one of the best trainers around.
Hi Dale! Best of luck tomorrow buddy! You deserve this and we are thrilled you have been nominated! We are pulling for you! See in a few weeks at Gulfstream! Looking forward to SOGO's 4 year old career! :) Best to Tammy and the kids! :)
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