Thoroughbred trainer Dale Romans and success have been synonymous over the years. Huge graded stakes wins all over the country during a spectacular career as a conditioner surround even bigger success at his home track, Churchill Downs. So, with that in mind…what’s with the headline?… How can a guy this good get better?
One of the things that has eluded this Louisville native is one of those oh-so-coveted wins in the Kentucky Derby. Romans currently has a hot Derby prospect in his barn that will hopefully begin his trip towards the twin spires on February 5 in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. Giant Game will be making his first start as a three-year-old in this grade 3 mile and a sixteenth drive over the South Florida dirt. Offering qualifying points for Kentucky Derby 148, the veteran trainer sees the Holy Bull as a great place to start this son of Giant’s Causeway.
“We feel like this is a very good spot for Giant Game to get his three-year-old season started”, says Romans. “We are very happy with the things he has been doing and really like where he is at right now as a young horse.”
This Game is relatively inexperienced as he started only three times at the age of two. In those runs, however, this grandson of More Than Ready has looked like exactly that when it comes to being a talented runner. His first career start came at Churchill on September 18, 2021 where he finished third ahead of Call Me Midnight and Epicenter. Both of those horses have now won stakes races this year at The Fairgrounds in New Orleans. Next up came an impressive maiden-breaking win on October 9 at Keeneland where he again bested Call Me Midnight. Then it was off to Del Mar and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where a Giant run saw him finish a solid third at odds of 22 to 1 behind race favorite Corniche and Pappacap.
“I thought his Breeders’ Cup run was fantastic”, says Romans. “We were very proud of how he ran that day and were very encouraged by his performance. When you consider his amount of experience and shipping to the west coast I think he handled it all quite well.”
Now that the calendar has turned and the Derby chase has commenced, Romans understands it is time to get his prized colt moving forward. Growth mentally and physically are key in turning a solid two-year-old into a real Kentucky Derby contender. Having knocked on the door in the world’s most famous race with Paddy O’Prado (3rd 2010), Shackleford (4th 2011), and Dullahan (3rd 2012), Romans is fully aware how tough it is to get to the first Saturday in May let alone win.
“We’ve got a great-looking horse with solid bloodlines”, says the man who beat American Pharoah with Keen Ice in the 2015 Travers Stakes. “He has been training great, but the bottom line is being able to do it on race day. This is not an easy spot and it is time for him to step up his game.”
The Holy Bull is race 11 on a 12 race card with an expected post time of 5:10 eastern time. Giant Game will be ridden by Luis Saez and is currently at 7 to 2 on the morning line just behind race favorite Mo Donegal (5 to 2).