Romans and Dullahan Crank it Up a Notch: Too Little, Too Late?

Dale Romans said he recently received advice on how to prepare Dullahan for the Belmont’s 1 ½-mile distance from an 80-year-old retired groom who used to work for his father, Jerry Romans.

“He told me, ‘Just remember, nature will take a horse a mile and an eighth, but you have teach one to go a mile and a half,’” Romans shared. “We’ve been changing the small things. Like instead of a mile-and-half, we go on two-and-a-half-mile gallops with him and galloping him before we breeze, just little things to try to teach him to go a little further, mentally and physically.”


Or, Mr. Romans you could have read this blog for the past 4 years and implemented this strategy months ago, perhaps even with Paddy O’Prado and Shakleford. Although I applaud the upgrade in conditioning, I question such a drastic increase a little more than 2 weeks out from the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Playing catch-up, I suppose.

What is the rationale? Galloping 1.5 miles daily is enough to ‘learn’ to race 1 and a quarter, but 2.5 miles is the ideal to prepare for running 440 yards further? Regardless, if these are typical 2:15-2:30 paced miles, the effect will be minor compared to I’ll Have Another’s well publicized 2 minute miles (or faster).

Still, these comments seem to me to indicate mostly concern about the mental aspects of racing further, which pale in comparison to the physiological ones. I can count on one hand the number of thoroughbred trainers around the world who have gone online to Google ‘thoroughbred physiology’ or ‘science of horseracing’ and gotten in touch with me – and 2 of those gentlemen are among the world’s leaders in purses won on a yearly basis, small wonder.

I will now certainly pull for Dullahan to complete the exacta in the hopes I can continue to draw attention to these matters. Is anyone else paying attention? Matz/Union Rags?

UPDATE: Saturday, May 26th:

Per the DRF: With Tammy Fox aboard, Dullahan went through splits of 26 seconds, 38.60, 51.40, 1:04.60, and 1:17.40 when passing under the wire a second time in 1:43, according to Churchill clocker John Nichols. His out time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:57.

I am sure this is the first work for Dullahan over 6F in his young career, and I would wager it’s an extreme rarity for Mr. Romans – will they be rewarded in 14 days?


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on May 23, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Love you. You are funny and smart. Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. This sounds like steeplechase training to me. Many years ago the steeplechase trainer I worked for trained his flat horses exactly like this. I’m pretty sure most of them still do.

  3. Bill,
    Thanks for the post. it probably is to late

  4. Thanks for your input on the derby. With your help and some backside scoundrels I hit the tri.
    I am putting you in the will.

    • Nice! I boxed the ‘california superfecta’ in the Derby, but they ran 1-2-5-6. Would have been a massive payday – didn’t do it in the Preakness (tri) because the payouts weren’t going to be huge. Figures.

  5. Phillip Haycock

    Maybe the old man meant that a horse that is trained to run a mile and an 1/8, is taught to run that distance by racing that distance, and if the horse is then to run a mile and a 1/2, then it is first trained with longer gallops but the teaching is in the racing.
    A horse is, what it does,
    I think Tom Ivers said that.

  6. I think that in the next few years we should expect some really interesting Triple Crown races! This positive trend many high profile trainers will start to follow and their best 3yos will be much fitter for the grueling 3 classic races in five weeks.But that brings people to the racetracks,the kind of show that I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister gave us in the late stages of Preakness,and only horses with some proper conditioning are capable for something like that.

  7. Bill–just read this after drafting my latest. Great minds think alike, it seems !

  8. Yes sir some are listening, and listening loud and clear. I have been in medicine for nearly 30 yearsl, but my father was a trainer that did quite well. I myself have decided to move into trainer ,it has been my true lifelong dream and I’m not getting younger sooooo, Have none of these people ever run a mile themselves?? When I was playing sports I always had months of conditioning…I dont get it, I feel you must be prepared for anything at anytime and for a long time. what I mean is endurance ,endurance, endurance, talent goes a long way, but having a body that is prepared athletically, nutrionally and mentally is MY JOB. But I have to say I see alot of trainers here that just dont prepare the animal… oh but they all talk crap at me(for one thing Im a female) I try to tell them “it isnt grandpa’s race anymore” they just laugh, yet my horse go ‘s for a workout and all eyes are on them, and they are all oooo and ahhhh! I have a friend that has a masters in exercise physiology, i paid her to come out and go over the hills and build an obstacle course for foot work ,to work the muscle twitching program. So some of us are here, and thirsty for what you have to say,for your knowledge and your sarcasm is just like mine, I think your funny. I am soooo happy to know when I come up with an idea, I can research it and get an EDUCATED answer not just a bunch of “good ol boy” blah blah blah. I just hope they all keep doin what they’re doin, cuz I’m gonna blow them over on the first turn! So thank you sir and please keep it coming.

    • Thanks for the kind words Leanne, best of luck to you!- World class trainer Mike de Kock says it best: “When your horse may not have the bloodlines or ability of their opponent, fitness is the one area where you can beat them.”

      All these horseman who condition identically to each other are giving up what could be an advantage, then hide behind the ‘I don’t get any good horses’ excuse. Hell if you are a perennial top 20 trainer, don’t change a thing, but if you are not – there is always room for improvement.

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