09/09/2013 3:26PM

Churchill Downs: Romans savors Iroquois Stakes upset

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Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Cleburne (right) and Smart Cover finish first and second as longshots for trainer Dale Romans in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Dale Romans was smack in the middle of quite a few wild scenes in the winner’s circle last year, when he earned the Eclipse Award as top trainer, but such celebrations have not been nearly as frequent this year.

Fortunately for Romans, the good feelings were rekindled Saturday night during an eventful Downs After Dark program at Churchill Downs, where he sent out Cleburne and Smart Cover to finish first and second at 34-1 and 26-1 in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes. Both colts are owned by Donegal Racing.

“I can’t remember anything we’ve done this year topping that,” Romans said Monday. “It reminded me a lot of winning the Clark last fall with Shackleford. There were just a whole lot of genuinely happy people. It’s always a home run to win a big race here at Churchill, especially under the lights, and to run one-two was like hitting a grand slam.”

Romans, who started the week by winning the $200,000 Turf Amazon at Parx Racing in Philadelphia with Silverette and ended it with three more winners Sunday (two at Churchill and one at Belmont Park), said he and Donegal manager Jerry Crawford tentatively have settled on having Cleburne train up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

Cleburne earned an expenses-paid trip to California as the winner of the Iroquois, which carried a Win and You’re In designation for the first time.

Romans said he will work Smart Cover on the Polytrack surface at Keeneland before deciding whether the colt will run back on opening weekend at Keeneland in the Oct. 5 Breeders’ Futurity on Polytrack or the Oct. 6 Bourbon Stakes on turf.

Meanwhile, the third- and fourth-place finishers in the Iroquois, Tapiture and Ride On Curlin, could run back in the Breeders’ Futurity, according to their connections. Both colts were 2-1 in the Iroquois, with Ride On Curlin a slight favorite.

Attendance on a warm, muggy night was 13,963. One more Downs After Dark card will be held at the 12-day meet, Sept. 28.

Mena gets three-day suspension

Jockey Miguel Mena will serve a three-day suspension for his role in the disqualification of his mount, Air Squadron, from first to second in the eighth race Friday at Churchill.

Under terms of his suspension, and given the fragmented nature of the Kentucky racing calendar this month, he is not permitted to ride Sept. 15, 18, or 20 but is eligible to ride during interim dates, according to steward Barbara Borden.

Air Squadron outfinished his Steve Margolis-trained stablemate Shake Up in the maiden route, but not before bearing out in the final yards under a left-handed whip from Mena. Victory was awarded to Shake Up, an 11-1 shot.

Open Mind draws field of six

Entries are out for the Friday and Saturday cards at Churchill. The only allowance among 10 Friday races is a first-level turf route for fillies and mares, while the 10-race Saturday card is anchored by the $100,000 Open Mind, which got six fillies and mares going six furlongs: Vuitton, Second Street City, Devious Intent, Ms Anna Destiny, Sweet Cassiopeia, and Burban.

First post Friday is 1:45 p.m. Eastern. The Saturday program starts at 12:45 p.m., presenting a conflict with many regional fans intent on watching the Louisville-at-Kentucky football game, which kicks off at noon in Lexington.

◗ Here’s a new way not to win a race: get scratched because you’re not on the “official” program. That’s what happened Friday at Churchill when Legomyborrego, a 2-year-old filly trained by Bret Calhoun, was inadvertently left off the Churchill program for the eighth race. Although Legomyborrego was correctly listed in the Daily Racing Form and other programs used by simulcast bettors, he was excluded from the ontrack program, and the stewards said they had no choice but to order him scratched.

◗ Trainer Gary Hartlage and his large local following enjoyed a happy sendoff Saturday night when a 2-year-old colt named Wry ($15.80) rolled to a three-length score in the last of 11 races. Hartlage said he intends to run the colt in a two-turn race next, meaning the Breeders’ Futurity is a possibility. Wry, bred and owned by Anita Cauley, is by Distorted Humor out of High Heels. The dam is out of Ornate, who also produced Grade 1 winner On Fire Baby.