Less than a month ago, Dale Romans received the Eclipse Award as champion trainer of 2012 for his work with stable stars such as Little Mike, Shackleford , Dullahan, and Silver Max.
Now Romans is gearing up his stable to make national headlines once again in 2013, placing high hopes on two 3-year-olds owned and bred by Siena Farm—the colt Dewey Square and the filly Private Ensign.
Private Ensign is scheduled to start in the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 23, while Dewey Square is expected to run in the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 3 en route to the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland
Romans admits Private Ensign "takes a big step up to run in the stakes," a race in which the likely favorite will be Dreaming of Julia
, a top 2-year-old filly developed last year by trainer Todd Pletcher.
Dewey Square came to South Florida this winter with a big reputation after winning his first two starts in Kentucky before a strong third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs
Although the son of Bernardini
finished a distant seventh in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 26 behind Itsmyluckyday
and Shanghai Bobby
in his sophomore debut, Romans and jockey Corey Lanerie attributed the dull try to not handling kickback. While Romans has not wavered in his faith in Dewey Square's ability, he has altered plans on a schedule to get him to the Derby.
"He worked on the turf here (1:01 4/5 on Feb. 10)," said Romans. "It looked like he handled it just fine. He's still on the Derby trail, this race and then the Blue Grass."
While Romans prepares his 3-year-olds for their next start, he has nearly completed the serious training for older stars Little Mike and Dullahan
for their long trip to Dubai to prepare for the March 30 Dubai World Cup program.
"The plane leaves from Miami on Feb. 27," Romans said. "They'll run in different races on March. 9." Both races will be run on the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan.
Priscilla Vaccarezza's 6-year-old gelding Little Mike and Donegal Racing's 4-year-old Dullahan, who between them won five grade I stakes last year, have posted a steady series of works over the Gulfstream track in recent weeks ahead of their trip.
While Dullahan will definitely go in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) to be run March 30, a decision on Little Mike's choice of races on World Cup Day will depend on how he handles a synthetic surface for the first time March 9. Also to be run on World Cup Day are the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at 1 1/2 miles on turf and the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Romans won the 2005 renewal of the Dubai World Cup with Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Roses in May after finishing second in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) behind Saint Liam, the latter going on to be voted Horse of the Year that season.
Another older star back for another season in the Romans barn will be Mark Bacon and Dana Wells' 4-year-old Silver Max, who posted his first workout of the year at Gulfstream Feb. 9, going a half-mile in :50 3/5.
The son of Silver Badge
won six straight races on turf last year, beginning with an allowance race early in the season at Gulfstream before five straight stakes races, including the American Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill, Arlington Classic, and rich Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs