The race for the final jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, will run this Saturday, June 11 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Although no horse is vying for the chance to wear the crown this year, the race will again pit Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner, against Louisville native and trainer Dale Romans’ Shackleford, the Preakness Stakes winner.
The front-running Shackleford led the Derby field around the Churchill Downs oval, but was passed in the stretch by three others, including the victorious Animal Kingdom. In the Preakness Stakes, Shackleford sat just off the fast pace of the leader, Flashpoint, and held ground while others fell to the wayside or tried to catch him. Animal Kingdom was the closest, but was still unable to chase him down. While all eyes Saturday will be on these two top contenders, Louisville eyes will be on trainer Dale Romans.
Romans, a lifelong Louisville resident and product of Louisville’s Butler High School still resides in Louisville’s Southend. Although his work as a trainer has taken him all over the world, there’s no other place he’d rather call home. Romans said his favorite thing about the city is its people.
“I live in Miami part of the year. I live in New York part of the year. But the people of Louisville are the most friendly and nicest people around and everyone has an interest in Churchill Downs. It’s just an easy place to live. It has everything that you would want in a city without the hassle.”
Romans has been involved with horses since he was a child. As the son of the renowned trainer, Jerry Romans, Romans grew up loving and learning the sport from his father. He obtained his trainer’s license at age 18 and saddled his first winner at age 20. When asked if he’d ever thought of a career in anything other than training horses Romans said, “No, this has been it since I was a little kid; that’s all I’ve thought about doing.”
Many children have gone to the racetrack with their parents and dreamed of being involved with the sport, but few are lucky enough to learn the trade from a winning trainer. Romans has some advice for those starry-eyed dreamers peeking through the paddock fence, watching the trainers saddle their horses.
“Don’t be intimidated by the game. It looks really big from the outside looking in, but it’s not that big and it’s not impossible. Just, if you decide that’s what you want to do, go on the backside and get you a job at the bottom level and work your way up.”