Tom Bellhouse on Eclipse Award Leading Trainer Nominee Dale Romans
If only I could pick horses this well...
One of my favorite parts of the Saratoga meet is getting the opportunity to see most of our horses and trainers on a daily basis. I get to witness, up close, the inner workings and styles of the various horsemen and their respective barns. I love walking the shedrows (when its still dark in the morning before the sun comes up), grabbing the “set list”, and poking my head in the stalls to check on our charges. This year was no different, but I must say, I felt a little different walking through the Romans shedrow.
2012 was like no other year for Dale and his team. The stalls were filled with talent that rivaled the famed “1927 NY Yankees’ Murderers Row”....
The feisty mare Tapitsfly, handsome chestnut Dullahan, the horse who never ceased to amaze, Little Mike, and the star of the show, the mighty Shackleford. One graded stakes winner after another.
During morning workouts, Dale held court on the turn, as he had in years past. The only difference was him constantly surrounded by a group of reporters who were hanging on every word waiting for a juicy tidbit. Like clockwork, right before the track closed for the morning, “The Show” began.
“The Shackleford Show” to be more precise. The big horse was usually one of the last horses off the track each day. Dale said, “he gets so competitive we have to bring him out there when there are just a few horses on the track or he tries to race them.”
A popular myth going around was ”Shack” went out last, so the late-arriving Dale could watch him after he had his breakfast. “Shack” would then proceed to roll around in the sand pit, which became a highly anticipated daily event for Spa 2012. Our Partner Rob Masiello took this video of him rolling:
As the meet and the year progressed I frequently would yell to Dale ”save me a seat,” referring to the table at Thoroughbred racing’s Eclipse Awards coming up January 19th. He always responded with, “It’s a long year, we’ll just try to keep em’ moving forward. And quit jinxing me!”
I kept asking if there was anybody talking future book wagers on the Eclipses. Well, not even the Bellhouse (human anchor) could slow down “Big D” in 2012. Disproving the famed Leo Durocher, “Nice Guys Can Finish First.”
Another great bet I missed.