If Sharp Humor wins Saturday's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), "it might be the largest winner's circle picture of all time at Churchill Downs," said the colt's trainer, Dale Romans.
Romans is a son of the late Churchill-based trainer, Jerry Romans, who died in 2000, and the Kentucky Derby will be a family reunion. Romans' older brother, also named Jerry, and younger brother, Bruce, will be in the large group of Sharp Humor supporters, and they will be joined by a step-brother and a step-sister. The family matriarch, Suzanne, lives about five miles from Churchill.
"We'll have 50 people, maybe," Romans said. "It depends on who else we pick up back here, and who we run into. I would like to have the whole grandstand with us. We have a lot of supporters here."
Romans' father was a native of Louisville, and he trained on the Kentucky circuit for nearly 35 years. Jerry Romans enjoyed considerable success with claiming horses, capturing two training titles at Ellis Park and one at Turfway Park. He won 199 races at Churchill and, at the time of his death, ranked 15 on track's all-time victory list for trainers.
"I'm in the same barn (Barn 4) at Churchill as my father was for years," Romans said. "Churchill is my second home; it always has been. My brothers and I hung out here. It was our summer camp. We started working in the barn as soon as we were old enough to lead one (a horse).
"My father had a good career, but he didn't train the top horses. He never really wanted the risk of dealing with them. He was very happy and content with what he was doing. But he gave me a higher entry level to the game than he had. I started where he ended, so it was a whole lot easier to get to this point where I am now."
Romans saddled Roses in May for victories in the 2004 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) and the 2005 Emirates Airlines Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). The trainer also guided Kitten's Joy to a grass championship in 2004.
Purdedel Stable and WinStar Farm's Sharp Humor is coming into the Kentucky Derby off of a runner-up finish to Barbaro in the April 1 Florida Derby (gr. I). Sharp Humor's only other effort this year was a victory in the Swale Stakes (gr. II).
Sharp Humor likes running on the lead, and Romans expects the colt to follow his usual running style in the Kentucky Derby even though he is expected to have plenty of competition up front from such horses as Sinister Minister and Lawyer Ron.
"He's going to be close to the pace, if not the lead," Romans said. "He's a very smart, athletic horse, and I think that if they (the fans) bet $2 on him, that at least they're going to get a good run for their money.
"He has a high cruising speed, but it's very relaxed. I think if he gets to the lead, he'll drop the bit and relax as far as he can until somebody hooks him. But I don't think he minds going head to head. If you look at all his races, he only does what he has to do. He's not one of those horses that's going to open up by 10 (lengths). He's going to be wherever he is very comfortable and relaxed. If something happens and we're not in front, I wouldn't want to be the horse in front of us trying to finish at a mile and a quarter."
And if Sharp Humor winds up in the winner's circle?
"It would be beyond belief," Romans said. "But I think we have a legitimate chance. We won the Dubai World Cup, which is the richest race in the world, two years ago. But I don't think anything compares to winning the Kentucky Derby. I think my father would be very proud of me."