Romans' Confidence Blooms With 'Roses'

Romans' Confidence Blooms With 'Roses'
Photo: Horsephotos/NTRA
Roses in May looks for gold in the desert of Dubai.
(from World Cup report)
Roses in May has filled trainer Dale Romans with confidence that he'll leave Dubai with the world's richest horse racing prize, the $6 million Dubai World Cup (gr. I) on March 26.

Romans arrived in Dubai on Friday night to oversee the final World Cup preparations of Roses in May. He was enthusiastic after watching his charge gallop a strong 2,400 meters over the Nad al Sheba racecourse dirt surface on Saturday morning.

"He looked real good," Romans said. "I think he is the horse to beat."

Ridden by Romans' assistant, Liz Gray, Roses in May picked up his pace down the stretch, his nearly black frame glowing in the early morning sun. The 5-year-old son of Devil His Due finished a game second to American Horse of the Year Ghostzapper in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) on Oct. 30. He began 2005 with a runner-up effort behind Saint Liam in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5.

Richard Mandella, who trained Pleasantly Perfect to win last year's Dubai World Cup, will saddle Congrats for this year's race, observed Roses in May's gallop. He agreed Roses should be the race favorite.

Romans also praised Mandella's runner.

"He's bringing a nice horse," Romans said. "That's probably my biggest concern – Congrats."

Romans plans to send Roses in May out for a breeze on Monday night so the horse can become familiar with racing conditions under the lights before the Dubai World Cup.

Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Roses in May has won seven of 12 career starts, including the 2004 Whitney Handicap (gr. I), and has earned $1,890,187.

Congrats skimmed over the Nad al Sheba surface with ease, breezing a half-mile in :49 and change and bringing a smile to Mandella.

"He looks great," Mandella said. "He's traveled really well and he really does look like he never left the barn (at Santa Anita Park). He's eating good and feeling good."

Exercise rider Paul Nilluang, a native of Thailand who has worked for Mandella for about two decades, was aboard. He tapped the strapping 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy lightly on the shoulder several times down the stretch to keep him focused.

"That's close enough," said Mandella of the time. "He went fast."

Mandella has compiled an enviable record in the World Cup. His seven starters prior to this year have earned $7.1 million, or an average of $1,014,286. Besides last year's win with Pleasantly Perfect, Mandella ran second in 1997 with Siphon and in 1999 with Malek.

Congrats finished a rallying second to stablemate Rock Hard Ten in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 5. While Mandella said he would not try to win both races with most horses since the 1 1/4-mile events are only three weeks apart, he described Congrats as a hardy horse.

Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Congrats has won seven of 18 career starts and earned $693,390. He was transferred from Shug McGaughey to Mandella late last year.

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