BOZICH | Friends, Romans, Louisvillians back Brody's Cause in Kentucky Derby 142
Trainer Dale Romans is convinced that he has his best shot to keep the Kentucky Derby trophy in Louisville with Brody's Cause Saturday at Churchill Downs.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Trainer Dale Romans quotes Malcolm Gladwell and Ayn Rand, but reads at a fourth-grade level.
Romans has trained with the University of Louisville basketball staff at Rick Pitino's insistence, but he was seen in a blue University of Kentucky T-shirt 10 days before the Kentucky Derby.
Romans has never signed up for a social media account, but he has a web site (DaleRomansRacing.com) that tells the story of his formidable stable.
He would still love to marry Tammy Fox, his fiancé of 25 years, but Romans ran away from a chapel in Las Vegas the last time Romans had his chance.
But there is one area where you will not find a contradiction in Romans' amazing race-track life:
Neither he nor anybody in his family has the words to describe what it would mean at Barn 4 if Romans won Kentucky Derby 142 with his talented colt, Brody's Cause, Saturday at Churchill Downs.
"I don't think there are words for that," said Bailey Romans, the trainer's daughter, who is 23.
"I don’t know," Romans said.
Romans has won the Preakness, Dubai World Cup and three Breeders' Cup races. In 2012 he awarded the Eclipse Award as the game's top trainer. Last August at Saratoga, he trained Keen Ice to a jarring upset over Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes.
But the Derby?
Said Romans, "There have been some things like beating American Pharoah that were bigger than I ever expected. I kind of think the Derby might be bigger. I just hope I can handle it."
He could handle it. Romans has handled overcoming a learning disability that made school a persistent struggle as he forced himself to manage dyslexia. Romans has shared his inspiring story at schools across Kentucky and said he plans to raise more money to help children dealing with similar issues.
"My forum is starting to get me a place to go and talk about it and try to make productive changes," said Romans, who will turn 50 in August.
"Hopefully I'll get a little more into that when I get a little older. Remember, it's only you that feels internally (that you're being made fun of). It's not the kids that are laughing at you. As long as you carry yourself with respect and treat them with respect, you'll be respected."
"My Dad might be a big man and he might look a little scary, but he's a gentle giant," Bailey Romans said.
"He's about the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He'll do absolutely anything for anybody. He takes care of so many people. If anybody needs help for anything, he's got everyone's back."
The trainer is not the only one eager to discover how he would handle a Derby victory. Fox works as the top exercise rider at the barn. Bailey Romans and her younger brother, Jacob, visit the barn nearly every day.
Romans' mother, Lynn, is a regular visitor to the barn -- and has been from the time Dale made the 5-mile trip from the family home in Shively to work for his father, Jerry, also at Barn 4.
Butler High School would join the celebration. Dale still describes himself as "a proud Bear, Class of 1984."
Even Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is on board with the idea of a homegrown trainer winning the city's signature sporting event. Fischer toured the Churchill Downs backside Thursday morning, stopping at Barn 4 to get a Derby update on Brody's Cause.
Your Derby pick, please, Mr. Mayor?
"Brody's Cause," Fischer said.
It could happen. At 12-to-1, the colt is the sixth pick in Mike Battaglia's morning line odds for Derby 142. The colt was knocked out of the top five selections because he drew the outside No. 19 post position.
Brody's Cause has proved his ability to run with the best horses in his class as a 2-year-old and at 3. He stamped himself as a precocious runner by winning the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October -- and enhanced his credentials by rallying from 10 lengths behind to navigate the 14-hole field and win the Blue Grass Stakes April 16.
"He's the best prospect I've ever brought to the Derby," said Romans.
No reason to look up his record. He is 0-for-6, finishing third twice (Paddy O'Prado, 2010; Dullahan, 2012) and fourth with Shackleford in 2011.
"When we bought (Brody's Cause), I really, really liked him," Romans said.
"When I walked up to him, I got that gut feeling. I'm a strong believer that the gut feeling is your brain telling you that this is what you like.
"When he came in here about a year ago and we started breezing him, we had one that was faster. This Giant's Causeway (the colt's sire) is doing things that Giant's Causeways are not supposed to do at this stage of his career. That's when I really felt that we were around something special. Then he just kept on improving."
Now Romans said that he believes the colt has improved to the point of winning the Kentucky Derby. What Romans isn't sure of is how he would process the moment.
"I don't know," Romans said. "I've tried to think about it. I've tried not to think about it. But you can't help but think about it.
"I just wonder: Can it live up to what I thought it should be since 1977 when I came here for the first one at 10 years old and haven't missed one since? Can it be as big as I have put it?"
Tune in Saturday.
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