Trainer Dale Romans has saddled 10 starters in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and has hit the board with classy colts Paddy O’Prado (third in 2011), Shackleford (fourth in 2011) and Dullahan (third in 2012).
The Kentucky-based trainer hopes Dennis’ Moment will go one better than his predecessors and reach the winner’s circle on the first Saturday in May. Judging from the performances Dennis’ Moment has turned in so far, Romans’ wish just might come true.
Purchased for $400,000 as a yearling by Albaugh Family Stables, Dennis’ Moment encountered bad luck in his debut at Churchill Downs. The colt clipped heels shortly after the start and lost his rider, though he proceeded to finish the race on his own and crossed the wire on even terms with the winner.
This deceptively good performance made Dennis’ Moment a clear favorite in a seven-furlong maiden race at Ellis Park, where he went to the lead and never looked back, en route to an effortless, 19 1/4-length victory. His final time of 1:21.95 produced solid speed figures, and Romans heaped praise on his exciting young prospect.
“It’s just incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it out of one of my first-time starters,” Romans said. “He’s just freaky good. … I’ll tell you what, as a 2-year-old, he’s trained as well as anyone I’ve ever been around.”
Dennis’ Moment then showed versatility and changed his running style to win the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. In stark contrast to his debut, Dennis’ Moment raced outside of rivals in fourth place, then took over to win eased up by 1 3/4 lengths, which earned him 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Unfortunately bad luck returned to the equation in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita. With the division championship on the line, Dennis’ Moment fell to his knees at the start, never recovered and trailed throughout to finish last.
The good news? Dennis’ Moment came out of the Juvenile in good shape and remains on target for the 2020 Kentucky Derby. From a pedigree perspective Dennis’ Moment should have enough stamina to contend for victory in the Run for the Roses. He is a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Tiznow, out of a mare by Elusive Quality, the sire of 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Smarty Jones.
“He’s the total package,” Romans said. “He’s been very smart. I mean, he was an expensive yearling. So he has the pedigree (and) the looks. His intelligence is off the charts and just pure natural talent.”
Talent is where it all begins on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.