produces Eclipse Award finalist
Romans attends ceremony
for his horse Shackleford
Special to RoundAbout
GOSHEN, Ky. (February 2012) Trophies, medals
and garlands always impress the masses, but the highest honor that can
be bestowed upon an athlete in the sport of thoroughbred racing is the
On Jan. 16, race fans watched in anticipation as the 41st annual Eclipse
Awards dinner was televised live from the Beverly Hilton Wilshire Hotel
in Beverly Hills, Calif. The day before, movie stars in dazzling designer
gowns and flashy tuxedos flooded the very same premises while attending
the Golden Globe Awards.
Doing his best to dress in celebrity fashion was humble trainer Dale
Romans, owner of the old Van Berg place, a thoroughbred
training facility off Liberty Lane in Goshen, Ky.
courtesy of Kacy Toler
Preakness Stakes last year.
I tried to dress the part, said Romans, whose
usual attire is comprised of baseball caps, windbreakers and blue jeans.
Surrounded by family and friends, Romans attended the prestigious ceremony
to represent his horse, Shackleford, voted a top three finalist for
While popular interest in horse racing generally wanes after Kentucky
Derby festivities end, 3-year-old horses continue to compete long after
the First Saturday in May is over.
After finishing fourth in the 137th Run for the Roses, Shackleford only
continued to impress fans with his consistent, gutsy performances. Fans
became familiar with his front-running, pace-setting style. Two weeks
later, Shackleford proved he was the better horse at a shorter distance
and stole the $1 million Preakness Stakes from late-closing Kentucky
Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
The remainder of Shacklefords season included finishing second
in the $1 million Haskell Invitational in July, second in the $500,000
Indiana Derby in October, and second in the $1 million Breeders
Cup Dirt Mile in November. That gave him career earnings of $1,985,803.
Would that be enough for a horse who first stepped foot on a six furlong
training track in Oldham County to take the Eclipse title for 3-year-old-champion?
It wouldnt be the first time a horse from Oldham County
from that very same training track, in fact took the title.
Twenty-five years earlier, Alysheba, trained by legendary horseman Jack
Van Berg, won the Eclipse award for 3-year-old-champion.
In terms of the Eclipse awards, could history repeat itself? Later that
evening, after the votes were released and the winners announced, Shackleford
ranked third behind Animal Kingdom and Calebs Posse.
Even though Animal Kingdom didnt compete in races after a minor
injury sidelined him in May of 2011, his win in the Kentucky Derby held
mega weight with the voters. And Calebs Posse, ranked second,
had one more Grade 1 stakes race to his credit.
We just needed one more Grade 1. One more and he wouldve
won, said Romans.
The championship categories are voted upon by members of the National
Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and the National
Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.
Jesus Castanon, Shacklefords jockey, was disappointed in the results
I know Im biased but I have an entire following of Facebook
fans who are upset, said Castanon. So many people wrote
on my wall, wishing him luck. In my heart, I know he was the best 3-year-old
last year. He ran in all the tough races. He was the most consistent.
He may not have won every race but he was always close.
Shackleford, owned by Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge, was Castanons
first Kentucky Derby mount after 22 years of riding in the sport.
Romans plans to kick off Shacklefords 2012 campaign in the Donn
Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 11.
I think hell come back stronger than ever. Who knows? This
time next year we could win champion-older-male, said Romans.
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