Updated on 10/12/2011 3:43PM

Breeders' Cup: Romans may move Dullahan to dirt for Juvenile

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Dullahan wins the Breeders' Futurity on Polytrack. He would have to switch to a dirt track in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The connections of Breeders’ Futurity winner Dullahan are currently pondering the same question those associated with 2010 Breeders’ Futurity winner J.B.’s Thunder did a year ago.

Should they run their horse back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt following a Breeders’ Futurity triumph on Keeneland’s Polytrack, a surface turf horses often handle better than traditional dirt horses?

With a 2-year-old championship on the line, trainer Al Stall and owner Columbine Stable opted to take a shot in the Juvenile with J.B.’s Thunder, who disappointed, finishing ninth behind victorious Uncle Mo.

Although the outcome wasn’t what they hoped, their decision was rooted in logic given the rewards if he had won – both in earnings, and in furthering his value as a stallion.

Now trainer Dale Romans and owner Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing are weighing the pros or cons of shifting Dullahan from Polytrack to dirt for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The other option is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, a race that offers less prestige and half the purse at $1 million. Both races are Nov. 5.

Romans said a decision has not yet been made.

It doesn’t need to be decided at this stage, anyway. Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup are not due until Oct. 24, and even then, a horse can be pre-entered in more than one race.

Romans said the 1 1/16 miles of the Juvenile better suits his horse, compared to the mile distance of the Juvenile Turf.

As for the appeal of the Juvenile Turf, it offers less uncertainty, given that Dullahan has already twice run very well in turf routes, most notably in finishing third in the Grade  2 With Anticipation on grass this summer at Saratoga.

Dullahan’s two dirt efforts at Churchill Downs last spring, were his slowest races, performances that resulted in a third- and fifth-place finish.

Both were sprints, races that kicked off his career, and Romans believes his horse has improved with maturity and going a route distance.

In an interview earlier this week, and in an appearance on the radio program “At the Races With Steve Byk,” Romans hinted his preference might be the Juvenile, pointing to the dirt success of Dullahan’s half-brother, 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird.

“I think he’ll run the dirt; I think he’s like his brother,” Romans told Byk, noting that Mine That Bird was originally a Polytrack runner in Canada as a 2-year-old before his success on dirt at age 3.

Both Mine That Bird and Dullahan are by sires that were graded route winners on dirt, with the former being by Birdstone and the latter by Even The Score.

Dullahan would be among the favorites in the Juvenile Turf. He figures as a mid-priced longshot in the Juvenile.

Because the Breeders’ Futurity was a Win and You’re In for the Juvenile, he has an expense-paid ticket into that race – meaning Donegal Racing would not have to put up the typical $60,000 entry fees to run him.

“It’s a free roll of the dice,” Romans said.

Starting in the Juvenile Turf would normally require entry fees of $30,000, but Donegal Racing would be able to use its Juvenile Win and You’re In credit to pay for the entry fees.

If Dullahan goes in the Juvenile, he is expected to face a field that is likely to draw BC Challenge winners Creative Cause and Drill from the west, and Currency Swap and Union Rags from the east.

The latter pushed his record to 3 for 3 in the Grade 1 Champagne last weekend, scoring by 5 1/4 lengths over the lightly raced but promising Alpha, another colt expected to go in the Juvenile.

◗ Aside from perhaps Saturday’s In Reality Stakes for Florida breds at Calder, few 2-year-old stakes remain that could produce a Juvenile starter.