Hope Romans Learns From Poor Belmont Game Plan; Trainer Steals Column From Promising Filly Miss Woods
By Warren Eves
This column was going to be about a promising filly named Miss Woods.
Trainer Dale Romans’ actions prior to the Belmont brought about a change in this column’s focus.
What was Romans thinking when he let the world know they were going to send his colt to the front in the Belmont?
First off, why divulge anything going into a big fray?
More importantly, why change from a second over tactic that Jesus Castanon gave Shackleford in winning the Preakness?
Did Romans, a country boy based at Churchill Downs most of the time, get caught up in the bright lights and all the media exposure? I think the answer is yes.
Let’s revisit the Preakness. Jockey Jesus Castanon never did get enough credit a flawless ride. The accolades he deserved never came. Shackleford rated kindly off the pacemaker to the second turn. That’s where he took the lead and went on to win ane he was not giving it up late.
Why in the world change a winning tactic, especially over a sealed sloppy track that definitely was playing to inside speed? But that’s exactly what Romans did. And, in the hours leading up to the race, he let everyone with a microphone know Castanon was going to the front with Shackleford. Romans left no doubt it was going to be a case of catch me if you can tactic for Shackelford.
Even if a go for broke tactic was the game plan, why would any trainer divulge same?
So who wins the race? A colt I gave no chance who sat second and had something left when it came to punch it in time. Did did you happen to notice, the silks of winning jockey Jose Valdivia were hardly splattered like the rest of the participants.
I’ll be first to say we respect Romans as a trainer. He made what we believe is a timely $16,000 claim of Strikewhileitshot at his home base Churchill Downs the very next day. He took the horse from Tom Amoss. The way the horse finished up and galloped out Romans’ and the new owner most likely will reap a quick return.
Sometimes it’s the subtle things a trainer does that either wins or loses a race. Sending Shackelford right to the front and daring eleven others to catch him was not very smart. Revealing what your intentions were going to be going in–were dumb.
Hopefully Romans, whose risen from the ranks of a claiming trainer, will learn from it.
Oh yeah, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Miss Woods who was going to be the lead item. She’s a filly who swooped and won large on Belmont Day at Churchill Downs. Don’t know a thing about here trainer Stephen Lyster. What we do know is she’s a filly that could be turn out to be much more than ordinary.
Notes scribbled across my official program–Elizabeth Park has to be one of the sharpest horses in the land. She shipped from Oaklawn Park to Prairie Meadows where she promptly reeled off consecutive wins. Trainer Chris Richard shipped to Churchill and on June 10 she won again. It marked her sixth win in the last seven starts. And who do you think owns this Florida-bred mare? None other than Maggi Moss. Richard may have made the claim of the year when he took this grey mare for $5,000 off Jammie Ness on Feb., 24. She’s posted four wins and a fourth for team Richard-Moss. Churchill Down’s John Asher says be believes Richard is proounced “Ri-Shard” and reports they have been together for awhile. “He has been based at Oaklawn and Prairie Meadows in recent years,” says Asher, “thus the Maggi Moss-Des Moines connection.”……………….Main Ruler won off our “Horses To Watch” list at Colonial on June 9th paying $17.80. Mustang Power was an easy winner at Arlington Park on June 10th paying $5.80 as the 9-to-5 favorite……………..Most of the time I tend to go with the horse who looks smooth when making the “Horses To Watch” list. This came to mind when watching the fourth at CD on June 10 when Valid Citizen turned in last furlong run we simply couldn’t ignore. Valid Citizen and Corey Lanerie broke cleanly from the rail. They were back roughly 6 lengths into the turn. It’s hard to put a number on it looking at the head-on shot but it looked like Valid Citizen had little chance while back 7 in the stretch. Lanerie went to the left-handed sticking and Valid Citizen responded. He drifted out in the process but the strong betting favorite got home in time while on the wrong lead. Like I said, normally we stick with the more visually impressive efforts. This was an exception to the rule. As a rule the horse on the lead near the rail usually is tough to reel in at Churchill Downs(CD)………………..Sometimes we are too quick to be critical of a ride. This came to mind after looking at the head-on shot of Doctor Carina, second in the fifth at Churchill Downs June 10. On first review I wondered why Kent Desormeaux didn’t get down and dirty left-handed earlier in the lane. When I watched the re-run I found out why. Doctor Carina was bumped hard at the start. The 6-year-old mare was getting out at intervals. K.D. got her outside he mainly spanked her right-handed. Doctor Carina was getting out most of the way. She made good late progress. When Kent finally went to the left-hand whip I knew why. She just doesn’t run straight. So we can’t be too critical of the ride in this case………………..Trainer Angel Montano dropped My Buddy Bubba to the bottom $8K level on Belmont Day at Churchill Downs. It resulted in a game better-than-looked tally for the 3-year-old gelding who had not won since breaking his maiden over the CD course last May. He was hounded all the way setting the pace. My Buddy Bubba lost the lead to the second turn but regained it. Once to the top he kicked away and kept on going. There were no takers at the claim box so that leaves Angel Montano with plenty of options…………….It was great to watch Acclimation win the 1-1/4 mile Charley Whittingham on the turf Saturday, June 11. He took them wire to wire with Joe Talamo. We’ve seen many a horse from the E.B. Johnston family win over the years and we’ll never, ever forget those memorable days out at the Pomona Fair. Can’t count the number of time we saw “The Pie Man’s” horses led over to win feature races at the one-time half-mile oval where Freddie Miller ruled the jockey’s room…………….Note to NBC executives who produce the Triple Crown races. Hire Laffit Pincay, Jr’s son now. Don’t pass go. Time has come for Tom Hammond to pass the baton on to one of the most natural on the air hosts thoroughbred racing has ever seen. I marvel at how smooth Laffit Pincay’s on has mastered his on the air skills. It seems like a walk in the park and………..he’s totally at ease. Laffit, Jr., did the Belmont prevue show………………..For those of you who pay attention to track bias, you might want to give Brushed for Love at Delaware Park. Early speed was dominate on Saturday, June 11 but it was Brushed for Love shedding the hood and rallying from 8 lengths out of it to win…………….Bim Bam produced a whopping payoff in the 10th race at Belmont Park coming off my “Horses To Watch” list and paid $27.40 to place. I liked his race at Pimlico, calling it a much better than looked effort. We’re going to be posting 50 new horses on our list on Tuesday, so if you are not subscribing do so today. We spend tireless hours, probably more than anyone else in the country, bringing you observations that can pay dividends……………The manner which Soul Silver took the field wire to wire on June 11 at Parx leads one to believe she could win at the next level. Soul Silver, with bug rider Kyle Frey up, was pressed by a larger foe all down the backstretch. She kicked away once she entered the stretch and the outcome for the $15,000 claiming race was never in doubt……………..Don’t know much about jockey Angel Arroyo currently riding at Parx. What we can report is we like his aggressive riding style. It was his switchng of the sticks thar rallied Seven Blue on the inside to win shortening up for a $7,500 claiming price……………….Here’s a subject we talked about over the weekend. While doing our review of SoCal racing at Hollywood Park it has become difficult to determine when a horse is truly a talent. The reason is the quality of racing is at an all-time low and that takes in most of the levels on the California ciricuit. Our heart will always been in California but the quality is simply not there any longer and unless the people running the show are replaced nothing much is going to change. We don’t feel it’s going to do anyone much good to continue bashing those who are taking the game down the path to ruin. We keep hoping there will be a change in venue–especially in the racing office at famed Santa Anita Park………………Mad Flatter responded with a visually impressive win when dropped into a claiming race for the first time On June 12 at Churchill Downs. The six-year-old horse cruised into the lead full of run moving down the backstretch. Jockey Jon Court kept him out from the rail and he got separation entering the stretch. Mad Flatter, a six-time winner, held late and may be back on track for trainer Jeff Thornburg…………..Former Aqua Caliente training great Juan Garcia watched his Mia Isabel debut in grand fashion on June 12 at Hollywood Park. She got away cleanly but was not quick early. Fifth and three-wide into the turn Mia Isabel was back 4-1/2 to the top. Under Agapito Delgadillo she rallied nicely and nearly got up. She’s by Exchange Rule…………………That Fair Hill training center which is so well known now produced another off the shelf winner on Monday, June 12th. Steve Klesaris, one of the trainers handicapper Don Kieger follows, had Tempted To Tapit ready off a lengthy lay-up. The now four-year-old gelding had not been seen since finishing third in last year’s Sunland Derby. He was facing Dreaming Blue who was coming off a sharp 7+ length win over the Delaware oval. Tempted To Tapit bumped with Dreaming Blue to his left at the break but had the most speed to get over with the lead. David Cohen set a perfect tempo pace with Tempted To Tapit and got the job done………….Visually it appears Robert Reid’s Hawk Three O Eight has $7,500 claimeres over a barrel. He won his second straight at Parx on June 13 like it was a walk in the park. The four-year-old Florida-bred has never finished worse than fourth in all eight starts……………….Famed jockey agent Harry “The Hat” Hacek spent some time in Arcadia, Ca., on Monday. Hacek is retired and he manged to hook up with longtime agent Ivan Puhich for lunch. Puhich and Hacek met for the first time in 1964 on the eastern seaboard. Puhich was hustling the book of Bill Mahorney. Puhich was like a father to Mahorney who was the first jockey we believe to ride with a knee replacement. I put the tag of “bionic jockey” on Mahorney. Seems Puhich, now 85 years young, visited Northern California recently to see Mahorney. Unfortunately Mahorney didn’t even know who he was because he has dimentia and it was a traumatic experience for Puhich………………..In case you are interested trainer Larry Jones is reaping the rewards of having readied a number of horses at Oaklawn Park this past winter. It happened again on Tuesday when he sent out Silver Salutations, a filly who faded to last making her first lifetime start in Hot Springs. She took the lead, set the pace under pressure and kept on going. We liked the run of a Pa-bred filly named Tibetan Lady who chased her to the wire. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday out of a Cozzene mare rallied out of seventh to be second. She should not be a maiden for long with Jonathan Sheppard training her…………….Seems like I’m at the age where many of my friends are having health issues. Just got an e-mail that longtime friend and trainer Barry Abrams is going back in for surgery next week. Barry had cancer surgery roughly six years ago and reportedly it has returned to the neck area. We hope and pray Barry can whip this thing again.