06/19/2012 1:30PM

Churchill Downs: Romans gearing up for final push at training title


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Just eight programs remain at the 39-day spring meet at Churchill Downs, meaning it’s time to fish or cut bait for the handful of men who still have designs on the training title.

Dale Romans held a tenuous lead atop the standings entering Thursday action with 13 wins, followed closely by Steve Asmussen and Tom Amoss with 12 and four others with 10 – Bret Calhoun, Brad Cox, Dane Kobiskie, and Mike Maker.

Realistically, the race most likely will come down to Romans, the Louisville native who has won or shared eight Churchill titles but none since 2006, and Asmussen, who has won the last six meet titles in a row and 11 overall. They have the most horses at their disposal and have had easily the most starts here this spring.

Romans seems to be making his intentions clear Thursday by kicking off these final two four-day weeks with a slew of entries, led by Quick Wit in the featured eighth race, a $59,800, first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. In addition, Romans has starters in all but two of the other eight Thursday races.

“We just want to run in as many races as we can, and win as many as we can,” said Romans. “We just happened to get a lot of our races to go Thursday.”

Quick Wit, with leading jockey Corey Lanerie to ride from post 2, is part of an oversubscribed field of 3-year-olds and upward in the feature. In all, 15 are entered, but only as many as 10 will start, assuming the race stays on the grass. Three horses are designated as “main track only,” and two more are also-eligibles. The forecast for Thursday calls for a 20  percent chance of rain.

Quick Wit is owned by Mike Bruder, a western Kentucky businessman and longtime Romans client whose current stable star is Guys Reward, an earner of more than $400,000. Quick Wit, a 3-year-old by Sharp Humor, had a promising turf debut last month when closing well to finish third despite a trip so troubled that the first-place finisher, Burn the Mortgage, was disqualified, elevating Quick Wit to second.

“He maybe could’ve won that day, but he was severely impeded,” said Romans. “I was happy with how he took to the turf.”

Other contenders in a contentious-looking Thursday feature include Big Town, Zolkarion, Tiz Sardonic Joe, and Seton Hall. Off the turf and onto the main, Majestic Harbor would have to stand a big chance.