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Keeneland: Romans gives Dullahan his nod as favorite for Kentucky Derby
By Marty McGee
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Dullahan earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory Saturday in the Blue Grass Stakes, the Grade 1 race that highlighted a record-setting day at historic Keeneland.
Trainer Dale Romans said Sunday morning that Dullahan came out of his 1 1/4-length victory over Hansen in good shape and that his newest stable star most likely will have one breeze at his home track, Churchill Downs, on April 28, the Saturday before the colt runs back as one of the top contenders in the 138th Kentucky Derby.
The Blue Grass victory was one of the greatest victories for Romans since he began training horses in 1986 at age 19, and he said he was besieged with congratulations from friends and business associates.
“It got up to 85 text messages, and there were 40 phone messages I still haven’t been able to answer,” he said.
Dullahan’s triumph came on the biggest day of business in the 76-year history of Keeneland. Ontrack attendance of 40,617 smashed the old record of 33,821 set nearly five years ago on Lexington Stakes Day, while all-sources handle of $21,647,378 also easily broke the old record of $19.2 million, set five years ago on Blue Grass Day. The 12 races run Saturday were the most ever for a single card at Keeneland.
Romans said he believes three horses deserve consideration for favorite in this wide-open Derby: Dullahan, Gemologist, and Bodemeister.
“I give my horse the slight edge,” he said.
Dullahan was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, the Hall of Fame jockey who goes into the Derby with a chance to match the legendary Bill Shoemaker in the record books. Desormeaux already has won the Derby three times, with Real Quiet (1998), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), and Big Brown (2008), and a fourth win would tie him with Shoemaker with four wins. Only Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack, both with five, have more Derby wins.
As for Hansen, he earned a 96 Beyer for his runner-up finish and returned in good shape to his home base at the Trackside training center just a few miles from Churchill. The nearly white colt incurred his second career defeat versus four victories in the Blue Grass.
Dullahan and Hansen already were assured spots in the field for the May 5 Derby because of their prior earnings, so the race brought no major shakeups in the pecking order in that regard. The third-place finisher, Gung Ho, earned $75,000 from the $750,000 purse and surely will miss the earnings cutoff that governs eligibility.
Meanwhile, only one horse who runs next Saturday in the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes has a chance to make the Derby field: Reveron, the longshot runner-up in the Florida Derby. Reveron, trained by Agustin Bezara, is one of about 10 probables for the 1 1/16-mile Lexington, according to Keeneland stakes coordinator Scott Jones. Entries will be drawn Wednesday.
One comment about Shackleford since the article has to do with Romans. Shackleford is a fearless horse who just seems to have already run his best races. That Triple Crown run into the summer classics just burnt him out. He undoubtedly ran the HARDEST races of any horse in America in the past year. Romans, remember First Dude you DUMMY!!! Always wanted the lead then fell asleep on the final turn.? What happened when Baffert got a hold of him? He shortened him to 6 and 7 furlongs and he was a NEW horse (until his injury of course). Bring Shack down to 6 furlongs for the summer and send him to the shed before you kill him.
The talent this year is much more plentiful than last but the choices are not that hard to make in MY opinion. Forget these one-hit wonder thats won at 109-1 and Optimizers fast close two back. These guys are nowhere to be seen with the big boys. Alpha Union Rags One of these two win the derby assuming theyre not COMPLETELY behind a wall of horses. Forget Gemologist. He has to stretch out to yet a NEW distance and he just popped his new career best on the Rags. BOUNCE! First loss is the Derby.... Makes sense. Alpha WAS A GAME second. Son of Bernardini WANTS it. Union Rags same story. I was a Hansen believer and I still would like to see him do it, but Im not sure he wants the challenges hes getting on these now classy stretch runs. Oh Dullahan. He certainly is capable by the way. I wouldnt ignore him in exotics.
With ALPHA not looking to promising for the Derby with Shin problems from the Wood Memorial , that tells me even more about how great GEMOLOGIST Win was ( IT WASNT ) . ALPHA was cut in the Shin and still ran very game while getting defeated by a head . I am not too sure ALPHA will even be shipped to Churchill Downs .
The official DRF Charts starts as follows . . "DULLAHAN unprepared at the start" . . Does anybody agree with this assertion?
Who cares about Romans. Everytime Shackleford runs he says he will win. Keenelland ain't dirt. Dullahan has done nothing on dirt. Dream on Romans
Desevedly so, every trainer likes his chances and every owner is now firmly bitten with Derby Fever. I doubt Dullahan can handle the surface switch as he still qualifies for a maiden race everywhere but Keeneland. But 3yos have a remarkable way of blossoming in the Kentucky Springtime and Romans will have him at his peak. And don't overlook that he was running at the end of the BC Juvy when he was really up against it pace-wise. So let's order an exacta and tri box on Dale's choices - and a small win wager at 7-1 or so. Best of luck to all - may the gods of racing be smiling at you. JHAM
Its Obviously a banner year for quality 3 yr olds on the Derby trail. A year like no other. Now look for the Jockeys with best chance to win, trainers and most of all look at the stride of the animal. Training at the tack will tell part of that story. But for pure pleasure ,look at Bodemeister run, Also Gemologist. Pure poetry in motion. Big , strong colts that will love the distance.
Romans is a trainer and trainers talk to other trainers. Maybe Romans has some inside info that leads him to believe those three are the best. When trainers say stuff like this it is wise to listen.
As does I'll Have Another, possibly Creative Cause... this is a wide open Derby. I don't think that any horse deserves to be named "sole favourite." I don't think Hansen will come anywhere near winning however, this colt can't seem to rate and he won't get 1 1/4 miles.
Romans said he believes three horses deserve consideration for favorite in this wide-open Derby: Dullahan, Gemologist, and Bodemeister. Thanks Dale, You have a very nice horse, but you forgot the winning exacta box in the Derby. Union Rags & Creative Cause.
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