Donegal Racing’s Dullahan turned in what trainer Dale Romans called a maintenance work at Churchill Downs April 28, going five furlongs in 1:01 1/5.
With Tammy Fox aboard, the son of Even the Score posted split fractions of :11 4/5, :23 4/5, and :36. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 4/5 in his final preparation for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
While the time was ninth fastest among 53 horses working the distance, Romans said he did not want the colt to do any more than he did. It was the first work for the colt since he won the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) in impressive fashion.
“Coming off a three-week’s rest after a big race, we just wanted him to go nice and easy,” Romans said. “It was a nice, easy maintenance work. He’s dead fit.”
Romans said Dullahan’s work was initially scheduled for April 29, “but we had to take him back to the track a day earlier. He was just jumping and feeling so good. He’s just been a machine since the race (Blue Grass).”
The trainer said Dullahan will school in the paddock, jog, and gallop up to the Derby. “All the heavy work is done,” Romans said.
Dullahan will be Romans’ fourth Derby starter and the trainer said the colt provides him with his best chance yet to win the “Run for the Roses.”
He sent out Sharp Humor in 2006 to finish 19th, had third-place finisher Paddy O'Prado in 2010, and last year was represented by Shackleford , the Derby fourth-place finisher who went on to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
“He gives me the best chance I have had of winning so far. The odds will show it too…We will be in the top four or five horses.”
Romans said post position for Dullahan, whose best running style is to come from off the pace, is not as important as it would be for Derby horses who are faster and will be on or close to the lead. He also said he hopes the pace scenario will set it up for Dullahan’s closing kick.
“Nobody wants the rail, but I think anything from three to 15 would be fine. I like the way it looks on paper for us,” Romans said. “The Derby usually has an unrealistically fast pace. There are some fast horses in this race. The problem is they are quality, so they could keep right on going. It’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds. This is a good group of horses; it’s a quality crop.”
Bred in Kentucky by Phil and Judy Needham, Dullahan was purchased for $250,000 by Donegal’s Jerry Crawford from the Bona Terra Stud, agent, consignment to the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Previous to the Blue Grass, Dullahan finished second in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) on grass at Gulfstream Park to begin the year. Last year, his sole victory in six starts came when he broke his maiden in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) which, like the Blue Grass, was run over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland.