10/24/2013 11:54AM

Breeders’ Cup: Romans stable looks ahead to championship event in wake of Dullahan’s death

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Barbara D. Livingston
Tammy Fox, pictured aboard Breeders' Cup Marathon contender Suns Out Guns Out, says Dullahan was "the kind of horse you never forget."

ARCADIA, Calif. – Of the many people saddened by the death of multiple Grade 1 winner Dullahan, perhaps no one took it harder than Bailey Romans. The 20-year-old daughter of Dale Romans and Tammy Fox absolutely reveled in the exploits of an exceptional chestnut colt who died Oct. 20 from a ruptured colon.

“She wrote this long letter about him and read it to me crying on the phone from school” – at the University of Dayton – “and of course that made me tear up,” Fox said. “Bailey and the groom [Anibal Abriago], we all get attached to these animals like they’re family. It’s like for other people when their dog dies. It’s just really, really tough on you.”

Fox has been at Santa Anita for nearly two weeks in overseeing the preparation of four Romans horses set to compete next weekend in the Breeders’ Cup, and while the news about Dullahan was a major emotional setback, it has not precluded her and Romans from sticking to business. Little Mike (BC Turf), Silver Max (BC Mile), Suns Out Guns Out (BC Marathon), and Cleburne (BC Juvenile) all will have their final workouts here Saturday, with the obvious goal being to enjoy happier times in this up-and-down sport.

“They’re all doing extremely well,” Fox said. “Dale will be here to watch all the works.”

By arriving Oct. 14, the Romans horses avoided the cold spell that descended upon Kentucky in recent days. Some horsemen believe moving from a cold to warm climate can have a subtle detrimental effect on horses, although that was not the main reason the Romans horses got here as early as they did.

“Sending them early is Dale’s M.O.,” said Fox. “In case anything goes wrong in their training, he wants to be able to have time to straighten it out.”

Little Mike, winner of the 2012 BC Turf, “is getting over the ground just like he did last year, so hopefully we can get that repeat,” she said.

Little Mike, a 6-year-old gelding bred and owned by Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza, finally has rounded back into form after struggling much of this year, winning the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont last month. Little Mike won three Grade 1 turf races last year and was a big part of the reason Romans was voted the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer.

Silver Max will have a rematch in the Mile with Wise Dan, the 2012 Horse of the Year he upset earlier this month at Keeneland. “He looks like a monster out there in his training,” said Fox.

A fifth Romans starter, Medal Count for the Juvenile, is scheduled to arrive here Tuesday from Churchill Downs.

The excitement of Breeders’ Cup figures to help ease the pain that lingers from the loss of a horse that was truly special to Romans and Fox and their family, friends, clients, and fans.

“He was the kind of horse you never forget,” said Fox, “but we’re moving on the best we can. You have to.”