06/27/2012 1:14PM

Churchill Downs: Romans, Desormeaux set for big day


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jockey Kent Desormeaux and trainer Dale Romans can be forgiven if they forgo the obligatory paddock handshake after going through those motions a couple times Friday at Churchill Downs. After all, they’re scheduled to team up in eight of the 11 races on a twilight card, and all that faux formality would get a little tedious.

Assuming they will get to compete Friday – brutally hot weather was in the forecast for the final week of racing at the Churchill spring meet, with the Thursday program already canceled – then Desormeaux and Romans might have to save some of that camaraderie for the winner’s circle. Desormeaux, the Hall of Fame rider who in recent years had made Kentucky his primary focus in the spring and fall but left the circuit after the May 5 Kentucky Derby, will be making a cameo appearance when in from New York for the day.

“It was my idea,” said Romans, who into this final stretch of action led the meet standings with 18 wins. “I had a lot of horses to enter and put some in late and didn’t have a rider named. Kent has been working a lot of horses for me at Belmont Park and seems like he’s doing good. When he’s right, he’s one of the best riders in the country.”

Romans will give Desormeaux a leg up before races 1 through 7 and race 10. “We’ve got a lot of live horses, but if I really had to mention one, I guess it’d be Gulfport,” said Romans.

Gulfport, a first-time starter by the elite sire Unbridled’s Song, is part of a full field of 2-year-old colts and geldings in race 4. “He definitely has the potential to be a special horse,” said Romans.

The nominal Friday feature is one of the few races in which Romans and Desormeaux will not participate. That’s the ninth race, a $62,500, second-level turf sprint for 3-year-olds and upward. Steve Asmussen seems to hold the upper hand with his uncoupled duo of City Cool and Voodoo Daddy. A field of eight is entered, with Moonbie, Full, and Closerwalk being other logical contenders.

One other allowance (race 10) also is carded for Friday, with Romans and Desormeaux having one of the top threats in Refugio, who was assigned the outside post in the $59,800, first-level, one-turn-mile race. Nine fillies and mares are entered in that one.

First post for the Friday card is 2:45 p.m. Eastern. The race-9 feature goes at 6:54, with race 10 set for 7:24 and the last race for 7:54. Weather permitting, the final Downs After Dark card (6 p.m. post) will be held Saturday, with closing day set for Sunday.