FOX LOVING HER DERBY MOMENT
For those that take a closer look, it’s easy to see how special the sport of Thoroughbred racing truly is. This time of year can be especially magical as horses across the nation are dashing towards immortality and a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Running along with those four-legged phenoms are the hopes and dreams of their human teammates.
Tammy Fox considers herself as one very lucky lady. The daughter of a Louisiana-born trainer and with a mom from Saratoga, she has been in the sport her entire life. Having horse racing in her blood, Fox has enjoyed many fantastic days at the track.
“I’m half Cajun and half Italian so you know what that means?…it means I can cook,” laughs the quick-witted Fox. ”For people to really understand how great this sport is they need to visit the back-side and the barn area. The races do not tell the whole story. In the barn area you see the love and the relationships people develop with each other and with these wonderful athletes. That’s the really great thing about this game.”
For the past 30 years Fox has been a part of the relationships for Romans Racing. Long considered an integral part to a highly successful operation, she has served a dual role as both exercise rider and companion to the big cheese in the barn, Dale Romans. The ability to work together for the greater good has allowed the Romans barn to become the all-time leader in wins at their home track of Churchill Downs.
“It’s really all about teamwork from everyone,” says Fox who normally works horses in the mornings for the barn. “I’m not afraid to tell the truth about how a horse is working and responding to the program we have them on. Knowing what is really happening helps Dale make decisions about what is best for not only the horse, but also our clients. We always want to provide an opportunity for success for all those involved.”
The Romans barn has won more than anyone beneath the twin spires, but they have yet to celebrate that coveted Kentucky Derby win. On ten previous occasions they have sent horses to the starting gates in the world’s most famous race. Two third place finishes (Paddy O’Prado 2010, Dullahan 2012) are the closest they have come. But alas, a new day has dawned and horses are merging onto that super highway that leads to the first Saturday in May. And one of those is the apple of Tammy’s eye.
Dennis’ Moment has been highly regarded by Fox since the first day she laid eyes on him. Of course this son of Tiznow with his quick turn of foot and powerful stride have perked her interest, but it has been about way more than that as the two have bonded beautifully.
“Ever since he came to us from the Ocala training center he has always had a way about him that just told us he has a chance to be really good,” says Fox. “He is a very smart horse and goes about his business in all the right ways. He learns very quickly and just seems to be very mature mentally for his age. I have been on a lot of horses over the years and the way he responds to me makes him really special in my eyes. Some of my favorites over the years have not always been the most talented physically but they have had great personality. He’s like the best of both worlds.”
Owned by the Albaugh Family Stables, Dennis’ Moment has been regarded as “special” by many others as well. After clipping heels with another and not finishing in the first start of his career, Fox’s prized pupil rolled to an astounding 19 ¼ length win at Ellis Park. He then won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill in his third trip to the starting gates and the buzz really began. His final start as a two year-old saw another mishap as a horrible stumble at the start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile dashed any hopes of victory.
Much to the delight of the entire Romans barn, this Kentucky-bred grandson of Elusive Quality has bounced back as a healthy horse. Paying close attention to detail has always been a strength for Fox as Dale’s confidant. Liking what she sees so far in 2020 from this colt, the Derby fever is on the rise.
“I don’t want to say too many good things about him because the first time I got on him I said he would never lose and we see how that worked out for me,” smiles Fox. “We felt really good about the Breeders’ Cup and then there was the stumble. I’ll just say I know he has what it takes to get to the Kentucky Derby. That’s the race everybody dreams about but it’s the toughest to win.”
Slated to make his three-year old debut in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 29, the excitement this time of year brings is running rampant for Romans Racing. The 2018 season saw Promises Fulfilled score in this same race for their barn on his way to a start in the opening leg of the Triple Crown series. Winning the Kentucky Derby is obviously the goal of everyone involved in the game. As any horse team member will tell you things can change in the blink of an eye and Derby 146 is still a long ways off. For Tammy Fox right now it’s simply about loving her Derby Moment.