Racing News

Romans gives update on sophomore squad

  • Cleburne (right) and Smart Cover, the top two from the Iroquois, are on the comeback trail (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer)

Trainer Dale Romans issued an upbeat bulletin on Monday morning about several of his newly turned three-year-olds, including the Donegal Racing trio of Cleburne, Smart Cover and Culprit.

Cleburne and Smart Cover completed the $500 exacta for the syndicate in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill on September 7, only to be sidelined thereafter. Culprit broke his maiden in his third start on October 27, but faded to eighth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 30.

"They're coming along well," Romans said. "All three of them are doing good and are pointing in the right direction. We just have to speed it up a little."

Culprit, a son of Street Sense, has recorded three five-furlong workouts since arriving at Gulfstream in mid-December.

"He's not far from a race -- he's probably one work away," Romans noted.

Cleburne was forced to miss the Breeders' Cup with an injury.

"He cracked his shin a little bit; it was very minor," Romans said. "He's back in training and he'll be on the worktab soon."

Smart Cover sustained a saucer fracture after the Iroquois.

"He's been training a little longer (than Cleburne) and he'll be breezing in the next week or so," Romans added.

Spendthrift Farm's Medal Count rallied strongly to dead-heat for the win in an allowance on the Gulfstream grass on January 12 in his turf debut, and the versatile son of Dynaformer will likely test his credentials on the main track next time.

"He's doing good," Romans said. "I'm sure that we'll go back to the dirt in a stakes somewhere, I'm just not sure where yet."

A $360,000 yearling purchase, Medal Count aired in his debut on the Ellis Park dirt before finishing fifth in the off-the-turf Bourbon Stakes on Keeneland's Polytrack. The big bay colt disappointed Romans when he ran up the track in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 2 at Santa Anita, but the Kentucky native remains convinced of Medal Count's ability.

"He has a lot of room to improve," Romans said after the colt's win. "He has all the natural talent in the world."