PROMISES FULFILLED IS A BREEDERS’ CUP BOMB THREAT
There won’t be a squad called to Churchill Downs on November 3 for this, but make no mistake this four-legged bomb threat is for real.
As the World Thoroughbred Championships approach, horses look to be coming in on a high note. Like any athlete, these runners want to be peaking at the right time. Finding the right mixture and producing an explosion at the Breeders’ Cup is the goal. Promises Fulfilled is one of those horses that seems to be at the point of ignition right now. With three straight wins in graded stakes company for trainer Dale Romans, this son of Shackleford has been nothing short of TNT since late July.
“Promises Fulfilled is a real racehorse,” says Romans. “He’s a perfect combination of speed and stamina. When you put those two ingredients together, you’ve got a nuclear bomb.”
There are a couple of factors that have lit the fuse for this blossoming three-year old. The first is simply maturity. A May foal, Promises had not yet turned three when he led the Triple Crown winning Justify through the opening three quarters of a mile in this year’s Kentucky Derby. All heart like his pappy, the blistering pace he set (22.24 opening quarter, 45.77 half mile) was a bit more than he could sustain. Courage carried him to the lead that day as he refused to be second. Unfortunately, his youthfulness became his undoing in that mile and a quarter. As the calendar has rolled and his birthday has come and gone (May 11), the veteran trainer has seen his horse’s forecast become Fulfilled.
“We looked at him and always knew he had the abilities to be really special,” says Romans. “When we ran him in the Derby he was still a very young horse. He has really matured over the last couple of months and he is just now getting good.”
The other radical in this isotope is perhaps a cutback in distance. A real speed merchant out of the gates, Promises Fulfilled can carry an incredible turn of foot for adequate distances, just maybe not for classic mile and a quarter distances. The Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 9 was his first foray at 7 furlongs and he finished a very game third. After some strong works under the watchful eye of Romans, Promises began his current win streak with a powerful score in the 6 ½ furlong grade 3 Amsterdam at Saratoga. Next came his first grade 1 win on August 25 in the 7 furlong Allen Jerkins also at Saratoga. His latest win on October 5 in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland, however, may have been his most impressive.
The 6 furlong Phoenix saw Romans’ prize colt step into the starting gates against older horses for the first time. Breaking alertly as usual, Promises took the lead early and ran strong through solid opening fractions (22.50 opening quarter, 45.09 half mile). In the stretch he was confronted by multiple graded stakes winner and defending Phoenix champ Whitmore. Refusing to let the more seasoned five-year old past him, the Keeneland sales graduate exploded to the wire and won by a determined head.
“The Phoenix proved he has the will to win,” says his proud conditioner. “When he got looked in the eye by another horse he refused to let them get past. That wasn’t just any other horse, that was Whitmore, an accomplished older, battle-tested runner. He really showed us something with that effort.”
Where Promises will be come Breeders’ Cup is yet to be determined. Having not gone through the early nomination process he would have to be supplemented with the Dirt Mile or Sprint as the likely targets. Considering Dale Romans is the all-time leader in wins at Churchill Downs and the Cup is there this year, a fuse is likely to be lit come November 3.