Dale Romans will be wearing two hats during this year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. The well-known trainer will be shopping for young racing prospects as he has in the past at the New York auction. He also will be a first-time consignor there under the Romans Racing & Sales banner.
“Going to sales is one of my favorite things to do; it’s exciting to me,” said Romans Aug. 4. “There are a lot of hopes with all these young horses. We don’t know what they are going to be as runners, so they’re all contenders right now. I like being around them; they’re the future.”
Romans, 45, is scheduled to saddle 2011 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and 2012 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) winner Shackleford for the Aug. 5 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course. Then, at the Fasig-Tipton auction Aug. 6-7, the veteran conditioner will help Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing select yearlings to buy. In addition, Romans will be offering five young horses for sale. In his consignment are a colt by Exchange Rate and fillies by Bernardini , Kitten's Joy , Mr. Greeley, and War Front .
“We brought five nice horses up here and hopefully the public will like them,” Romans said. “The best yearlings are here, so it’s challenging, but it’s a fun challenge.”
Romans operates a training center in the Louisville area. Last year, he acquired a 105-acre nursery near Lexington.
“I love the Thoroughbred industry and I want to be a player in all aspects; I don’t want to be labeled as just a trainer,” Romans said. “Ron McKee, one of my clients, was winding down a little bit in the horse business and had a farm that he didn’t need anymore, so it was a good opportunity for me. I had been with him when he bought it and I had always liked the place.”
Romans’ goal was to be able to provide a full-range of services – “from conception to the winner’s circle” – for his clients. He also wanted to get more involved in the breeding aspect of the horse business himself.
“I have several broodmares and I also have some breeding rights,” Romans said. “I’m going to use the ones to Paddy O'Prado and Kitten's Joy to breed horses and I’ll have more in Shackleford next year and other ones in Dullahan and First Dude coming up later. I want to be able to raise some good babies and sell them. I also want to keep some nice mares there for clients.”
Romans Racing & Sales offered its first consignment at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November select mixed sale. Grade I winner C. S. Silk brought $1 million and another grade I winner, Sassy Image, was a $1,475,000 buy-back.
“The thought was to sell the horses off the racetrack that we had as racing or broodmare prospects,” Romans said. “It was fun and it wasn’t that difficult, so we decided to try some yearlings.”
In addition to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga auction, Romans Racing & Sales will have consignments this year at the Keeneland September yearling, Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling, Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November, and Keeneland November breeding stock sales. Romans Racing & Sales had a Majestic Warrior colt consigned to the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling auction, but that horse ended up being scratched.
“We’re never going to be as big as Taylor Made or Lane’s End,” Romans said. “But I hope we’ll have sort of boutique sales consignments with horses I like and would want to race myself.”
Teresa Little, who formerly worked for Taylor Made Sales Agency, is the general manger of Romans Farm and oversees the sales consignments. Her father, Marvin “Junior” Little, managed Newstead Farm in Virginia for years. He also bred Hansel, who was the champion 3-year-old male in 1991, when he won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
“There are 64 horses at Romans Farm,” Teresa Little said. “We do sales prep and we have some layups from the racetrack. But our primary focus is to be a top-class breeding operation. We’re really hands-on with the care of the horses and we want it to be a special place.”
Little’s involvement, according to Romans, is an important reason why he feels comfortable with expanding his involvement in the horse industry well beyond training.
“With Teresa helping, it makes it easy,” Romans said. “I couldn’t do it without her.”