While Grade 1 winner Dullahan has never competed at Belmont Park and has yet to win on dirt, trainer Dale Romans believes the colt will deliver a top performance in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. If, in the process, the Even the Score colt manages to spoil I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid, Romans won't feel any remorse.
"Absolutely not," Romans said without hesitation during a Wednesday teleconference. "I think we owe it to the past Triple Crown winners to make (I'll Have Another) earn it. If he's a super horse, like Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Secretariat, and some of our past Triple Crown winners, then he'll win it. If not, we'll be able to beat him."
Dullahan, who is trained by Romans for Donegal Racing, will not have to make up much ground in order to defeat I'll Have Another as he finished third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Kentucky Derby.
Romans said he recently received advice on how to prepare Dullahan for the Belmont's 1 1/2-mile distance from an 80-year-old retired groom who used to work for his father, Jerry Romans.
"He told me, 'Just remember, nature will take a horse a mile and an eighth, but you have teach one to go a mile and a half,'" Romans shared. "We've been changing the small things. Like instead of a mile-and-half, we go on two-and-a-half-mile gallops with him and galloping him before we breeze, just little things to try to teach him to go a little further, mentally and physically."
Dullahan's two stakes victories have thus far occurred in Grade 1 contests over the synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland. The Derby was the chestnut's first black-type credit on a dirt track as his other placings came on the grass in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes in March and Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes last September.
"I'm going to try to get him (to Belmont) early next week to gallop a few days, breeze him over the racetrack," Romans added. "We'll be able to get a little better feel, but so far he's a horse who has run over Polytrack, grass, dirt...I don't think it matters to him."