Eric Wing: Welcome to today’s NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference. Big weekend coming up headlined by the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Sunday. Horse Racing Radio Network coverage of the Haskell will air from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. Two hour coverage, again of the Haskell, the Matchmaker, and the Oceanport Stakes, 4:30 to 6:30 Eastern. That will air on the Horse Racing Radio Network affiliates and also nationwide on Sirius Channel 85 and XM Channel 85. So if you can’t see it, that’s a great place to listen to it. Also a pair of $600,000 stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, the grade one Diana, and the grade two Jim Dandy Stakes. A little later in the call we’ll talk to trainer Ian Wilkes, who has one of the horse’s to beat in the Jim Dandy, that being Neck ’n Neck. We’ll also shift our sights to Del Mar later in the call and talk to Bill Spawr, who trains the defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion, Amazombie. Amazombie will be seeing action Sunday in the grade one Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar going six furlongs. First up, though, we’re happy to have in with us trainer Dale Romans. Dale will have grade one action, both Saturday at Saratoga with Tapitsfly in the Diana Stakes, and on Sunday, of course, at Monmouth with Dullahan in the Haskell Invitational. Dale, it’s Eric Wing. How are you today?
Dale Romans: Doing well. How are you?
Eric Wing: I’m just fine, thank you. And Dale, in the lead-up to the Haskell there’s been a lot of waiting and seeing, I guess you could say, with connections trying to decide whether to run in the Haskell or the Jim Dandy. But you’ve been pretty up front and decisive right away in choosing the Haskell for Dullahan. What was it that pointed out the Haskell as Dullahan’s best spot for you?
Dale Romans: Well, you know, it was—he’s already won two great ones, both in on polytrack. Even though he had a third in the Kentucky Derby with—like—he needs to have a big win on dirt for his next career in the stud barn. And the Haskell just seemed like a logical spot.
Eric Wing: Is this a big race to determine for Dullahan what—on what surface his future will take place?
Dale Romans: Yes, I think it is. I think he needs to run at least a very game race and look like he handles the track. I mean, we’re throwing out the Belmont. It was a little bit different. It was a little—deep, heavier type race track. I don’t think he likes that. But I still think on the right dirt track he’ll run big.
Eric Wing: Okay, you’ve got a very talented mare racing at Saratoga on Saturday, and Tapitsfly, who was terrific on Belmont Stakes day and in the Just A Game wiring the field, winter memories among those left in her wake. Now, a couple of added variables for Saturday, Dale. One is the distance, a mile and an eighth longer than she’s run in the past. And also I suppose the possibility of some soft ground. Do either of those two possibilities, or in one case the distance is a certainty, do either of those two things worry you?
Dale Romans: Well, you know, ideally I’d like for them to make it a mile on a fast track but they’re not going to do it, so we’ve got to—we’ve got to play the game they’re giving us. And she’ll handle the distance. She’s plenty fit and plenty—she’s run longer distances before and run well. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. And as far as the course goes, I mean, I think she can handle it, but we’ll have to wait and find out.
Eric Wing: Okay, Dale. Well, as you know from past experience we’ve got some media members listening in with us, so at this point I’ll turn the call back over to Michelle and we’ll see what questions the writers and broadcasters have for you.
Jennie Rees: Yes, what is it about Monmouth? You said Belmont’s a little different, but what is it about Monmouth that makes you think that this could be the right dirt track for him to run big on?
Dale Romans: Well, I don’t think Monmouth is as near as deep and and cuppy as the racetrack at Belmont. I think it’s a little bit more like Churchill. He handled Churchill well, you know. You know, maybe it’s just me but that’s the way I feel about that course.
Jennie Rees: Well, I mean, he’s got—Monmouth has a reputation for speed favoring. Have you been—and I haven’t really been paying a lot of attention to the races there. Is it a deserved reputation? I mean, do you see it playing different this year?
Dale Romans: You know, I don’t think, you know, that’s the reputation of the place but you know, we came from last to run a sound last year with Shackleford. And you know, I think a big race with a lot of good horses and I think it usually plays fairly, you know, fair.
Jennie Rees: And you sat with Kent Desormeaux as his jockey?
Dale Romans: Yes. Kent’s going to be back on him.
Jennie Rees: Yes, okay. And then final question—
Dale Romans: He’s doing well and he seems like he’s doing good.
Jennie Rees: So final question is without some of the marquis horses from the Triple Crown, you know, much of the spring was spent talking about how deep these horses are. What about—if you could sort of talk about the second half of the season that we’re starting now with these horses and how big a gaping hole is it that we don’t have Union Rags and I’ll Have Another, or do you think people forget about those horses come fall?
Dale Romans: Well, nobody’s going to forget about them. They’ve accomplished too much in the first half of the year, but I think there’s some good horses left out there, like Dullahan, like Paynter. I mean, I’m a huge Paynter fan. I think he’s one of our best three year olds of the crop, and we’ve got—I don’t mean personally—I know I have O’Prado Again coming back on the scene for the last half of the year which I think was one of last year’s best two year olds. So I mean, we’ve still got a lot of exciting three year olds to run.
Jennie Rees: Great, thanks, Dale.
Lynne Snierson: Hey, Dale. I just wondered if you had any early thoughts on the field right yet – if some Paynter, Le Bernardin, Nonios Handsome Mike, and Steelcase. Any way to evaluate that at this stage?
Dale Romans: Well, I mean, not really. I think Paynters the horse to beat and he will be out there running in the front end like he has in all his races and we’ll just have to try to run him down. I’m not as familiar with the rest of them as I am with Painter.
Jennie Rees: Yes, Dale, just turning to that why you kept Dullahan at Churchill when you obviously had a lot of, you know, a major presence at—Saratoga’s a little shorter ship than Monmouth from Saratoga than Churchill.
Dale Romans: Well, we didn’t get to Saratoga until about 10 days ago and I didn’t see any reason to ship him here, train him on this surface, which is different than Churchill and different from Monmouth, and for 10 days, and then ship him all the way back down to Monmouth. So we just kept him on one track and then shipped him into Monmouth. He actually arrived last night.
Jennie Rees: And I asked you a question about Tapitsfly. Could you just sort of comment on looking long term, the rest of the season, what you might have in store for her and what kind of noise you think she can make as far as trying to make a championship bid in that division?
Dale Romans: Well, I think this weekend is going to answer a lot of questions. When you get to a mile and an eighth it’s going to open the door for, you know, a few other options. But I haven’t really looked past this race. I just want to see if she’ll handle the mile and an eighth and if she does, I think she will. I mean, she’s doing really well. If she does we’ll have a lot more places to look.
Jennie Rees: Okay. And actually I do have one more final question. What are these turf horses that are in your—even your dirt horses, people think of them sort of as turf horses that you have in your barn these days.
Dale Romans: Well, I think one of the reasons is we go out looking for the route pedigrees and some of the better, route pedigrees that we can afford end up being turf pedigrees also. And it’s just worked out. I mean, this year we got five that really look good and three turf horses and—but I don’t mind having them. They’re good horses to have at three.
Jon White: Congratulations, Dale, for your Virginia Derby win with Silver Max.
Dale Romans: Thank you.
Jon White: And with Silver Max headed to The Secretariat I was wondering what you had in mind for Cozzetti?
Dale Romans: Well, I think we were planning on running two of them in The Secretariat, but now I’m kind of looking around and running one of them maybe in the Hall of Fame and—or the Del Mar Derby for Cozzetti. Just haven’t nailed anything down yet. As of right now they’re both going to run as an entry in The Secretariat, but that could change.
Danny Brewer: Is it put up or shut up time?
Dale Romans: Is it put or shut up on…?
Danny Brewer: For Dullahan on the dirt. I mean, if he doesn’t really run well on the dirt is he going to become exclusively turf? Is it time to make that distinction here in the Haskell?
Dale Romans: Well, I mean, I don’t think it will be the final decision. It may be the final one for the rest of the year. I’ll leave that up to Mr. Crawford. But, you know, hopefully he’s around this year and next year and there’s a lot of time to get him grade one on the dirt. But, you know it’s a possibility he could run this weekend. If he doesn’t run well he could shoot off in the Secretariat or the Del Mar Derby, (inaudible) at the end of the year on the grass.
Danny Brewer: This is a different (inaudible) of sorts but what about Shackleford? He’s one of my favorites. How he’s doing right now?
Dale Romans: He’s training super. You know, he’s doing really well. We’re working on making the Whitney with him because he did come out of the Met Mile pretty tired and he had never been like that before. It took him a little bit while—a little while to get on his feet and—but he couldn’t be doing better right now, and we’re pointing towards the Forego.
Eric Wing: Dale, before we part ways, I just wanted to ask you about Silver Max’s win in the Virginia Derby. I don’t know whether you were in Virginia or watching it on television, but what were your thoughts knowing that the course had been greatly softened by rain and then to see a horse not just come alongside but pass Silver Max, whose rider had lost the irons. Did it seem like down the back stretch like this was kind of a worst case scenario unfolding?
Dale Romans: Yes, there were a lot of concerns. I mean, I didn’t know how he would handle the soft going. You know, how he did go a mile and a quarter. I never expected for a saddle slip-up on a horse’s neck