Louisville Magazine

APR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Page 85 of 132

Belmont, plus Shackleford's gritty Derby effort that led to a redemptive victory in the Preakness — he seems to be getting closer. Romans has trained a number of Derby hopefuls that have left their mark on this year's Derby trail, including colts News Pending, Finnegan's Wake and the highly regarded Dullahan, a half brother to 2009 Derby winner Mine Tat Bird. Romans recognizes how hard it is to find the winner's circle on the first Saturday in May, although he does know the way. Last year, the documentarian John Hen- negan was filming Romans and his family as they left the clubhouse immediately following Shackleford's loss. Hennegan captured a moment one might expect to see in a scripted scene when, in the hallway of the second floor, Romans ran into winning trainer Graham Motion. Looking bewildered and unfamiliar with the Churchill Downs layout, Motion could not find his way to the winner's circle. Without missing a beat, Romans congratulated his fellow trainer and told Motion to follow him — through the hallway, down the stairs and out to the winner's circle. "Now go get your horse," Romans instructed Motion. "Tis is the race (Romans) wants to win and . . . it looks like he's going to win it at the top of the stretch," says Hennegan, who first met Romans when he filmed his 2006 documentary Te First Saturday in May. "I saw it in his eyes. You know, you think for a split second that, 'Holy cow, he's going to win the Kentucky Derby,' and even though there is a sense that you're a little bit bummed out, he's still able to realize that his friend had just won it and be man enough to treat him correctly." With a training career that now spans 26 years and more than 9,400 starters and 1,500 trips to the winner's circle, it's only over the last few years that Romans has made a name for himself as one of the country's top trainers. He's earned more than $66 million in purse money throughout his career and, with more than $1.2 million earned in the first quarter of this year, is ranked among North America's top 10 trainers in earnings. "I've done this a long time and, like Wayne Lukas always says, you have to earn the right to train top horses," Romans says. "I think that I'm finally earning the right." It started at the age of 18, when Romans, a graduate of Louisville's Butler High School, obtained his license as a trainer and entered the family business. He worked as an assistant trainer under his father and briefly under Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens before going out on his own. Romans won his first race in 1987 at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., with a horse he bought for $1,500. Four years later he won his first stakes race, the Florence Stakes at Turfway. Over the years, Romans has increased his stable size and his victory count. In 2004, he won six graded stakes with Kitten's Joy, 4.12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE [83]

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