01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Dale Romans


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.