Louisville trainer Dale Romans hopes to win Derby roses for his hometown crowd
The love, loss and challenges the Butler grad has faced in his hunt for a Kentucky Derby win.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There are a lot of people in Louisville hoping to see trainer Dale Romans win his first Kentucky Derby.
WDRB's Sterling Riggs spent a morning with the Romans family ahead of Kentucky Derby 142. Born in Louisville in 1966, Romans was destined be involved in horse racing. He's the son of legendary trainer Jerry Romans.
"All my life I knew that I wanted to train race horses. That's all I've ever done," said Dale Romans. Fast forward to today and Dale's one of the top thoroughbred trainers in the world. Jerry died at the age of 58, but the father and son have won more than two thousand races, collectively.
"The last year we trained with each other, he made a million and I made three million in purses. He still told me what I did wrong every day," said Romans.
Dale spent his younger years growing up not too far from the track in Shively neighborhood. He graduated from Butler High School in 1984. Despite being born into the business, Dale's success has not been a breeze.
Many people don't know that he's dyslexic. "I have a learning disability. I probably read and write at a 4th grade level but I can get along with horses," said Romans. He has never sent an e-mail and doesn't use social media, but he knows how to read race horses.
He's the only trainer in the world who beat American Pharoah. Romans' horse, Keen Ice, beat the Triple Crown winner last year at the Travers Stakes.
His daughter Bailey says her mom, an exercise rider and former jockey is a key to Romans success. "My parents are a dynamic duo. She's on the horse and he's watching the horse. The two of them together make Romans Racing what it is," said Bailey Romans.
Dale Romans and Tammy Fox have been engaged for 25 years. "They were in Las Vegas and my mom was like come on, let's go get married in a little chapel. My dad ran down the street the other way. She said if you don't marry me now, we'll never get married. 25-years later, they are still not married."
The Romans team will saddle Brody's Cause against the best 3-year old colts in the business. Dale shared his favorite part about Derby day.
"My favorite part is the walk from the barn to the chute. It's special because people I grew up with and my friends line the road to watch our horse walk and wish us good luck. People also yell down at us from the clubhouse. It's special because I went to school with these people or played little league with them. I've never heard anything negative on the way back," said Romans.
It's not Dale's first time to run a horse in the "Run for the Roses," but he's still looking for his first Derby victory. He talked about what it would be like to win the race. "I try not to think about it. You can't help think about it. I just wonder if it can live up to the emotion I felt when I attended my first Derby as a spectator in 1977. I've reached some big milestones in my life like beating American Pharoah. I think winning the Derby will be bigger than that. I just hope I can handle it," he says.
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