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?