Romans makes case for upset by Howling Time

Romans makes case for upset by Howling Time
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Photo:

Jennie Rees / Kentucky HBPA

Oceanport,
N.J.

Dale
Romans is never, ever at a loss for confident words about his best horses. Take
his stakes winner Howling Time, for example, a 10-1 morning-line long shot for
Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes.

“If
he’s doing good, you take a shot,” Romans said Thursday morning at Monmouth
Park.

This
weekend marks Romans’s eighth shot at training a Haskell victory. The closest
he came to winning was a pair of seconds in 2011 and 2015. This time he brings
in a colt who gave Cyberknife all he could handle before losing by a nose last
month in the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs.

Check out Haskell 2022 odds and analysis.

“That
was probably his best race,” Romans said on Horse Racing Nation’s Ron Flatter Racing Pod. “Cyberknife was a heavy, heavy favorite that time as he should
have been. (Howling Time) engaged him at the quarter pole. I thought
(Cyberknife) was going to go on by, and we were going to run a good second. But
he dug in. He wasn’t going to let him pass.”

Shaking
his head at the narrow loss, Romans joked, “It’s still a question whether that
photo was right.”

Dale Romans in Haskell Finish Odds Winner
2010 First Dude   3rd   5-1 Lookin At Lucky
2011 Shackleford   2nd *3-2 Coil
2012 Dullahan   5th   7-2 Paynter
2013 Pick of the Litter   5th 31-1 Verrazano
2014 Medal Count   9th   9-2 Bayern
2015 Keen Ice   2nd 18-1 American Pharoah
2019 Everfast   4th   8-1 Maximum Security
*Favorite    

It
was a close call for the 3-year-old Not This Time colt who was bought as a
yearling for $200,000 by Dennis Albaugh and Jason Loutsch. Howling Time began
his career with a debut victory and followed that by winning as the favorite in
the $100,000 Street Sense Stakes on Oct. 31 at Churchill Downs.

That
led Howling Time to the Kentucky Derby trail. But then he fizzled, losing three
preps by an average of 15 1/4 lengths.

“He
got sick (last winter) when he first got to Florida,” Romans said. “I think
that affected him from turning the corner and becoming a good 3-year-old. Then
you’ve got to push a little bit to try to make the Triple Crown races.”

Since
that did not work, Romans regrouped with a confidence-building assignment in a
Churchill Downs allowance race two months ago. In his first race on Lasix – and
on a sloppy track – Howling Time ran off to a five-length victory.

“When
we knew we weren’t going to make it (to the classics), we just stepped back,
let him get a deep breath, and he came back firing.”

Howling
Time’s never-give-up performance against Cyberknife, a Grade 1 winner, had
Romans thinking he should return to the Jersey Shore for the first time since
Everfast finished fourth for him in the 2019 Haskell.

Joe
Talamo, who has the ride again Saturday, has taken Howling Time to a
pacesetting lead in each of his last two races. Off Lasix for Saturday’s 1
1/8-mile race, that would be a tall order facing the likes of undefeated Jack
Christopher, who never has been more than 1 1/2 lengths off the lead at any call.
Florida Derby (G1) winner White Abarrio figures to be close to the pace, and local
long shot Benevengo also may show early speed from the outside of the field of
eight 3-year-olds.

“There’s
a lot of pace in there,” Romans said. “We’ll just let Joe decide. He’ll let him
break. If they outfoot us, we’re not going to take a hold of him. We’re not
going to take back, but if they outfoot us, we’ll just kind of sit in rhythm
and stalk like he did the first two starts.”

Even
though Monmouth Park has a reputation for being kind to early speed, Romans knows
from experience how that does not always work in the Haskell. In 2011 he brought
frontrunning Shackleford to the race. The 3-2 favorite led in the deep stretch only
to be reeled in by Coil, one of Bob Baffert’s record nine Haskell winners.

“Shackleford
got nailed by Bob’s horse coming from dead last,” Romans said. “I never look at
a track and try to change a horse’s running style because of the way the track
is playing. If you do that, everything goes backwards. This is a horse that
takes his course with him. I don’t think he cares where he runs.”

To
that end, Romans sent Howling Time out for a 1 1/2-mile gallop Thursday. He planned
to do the same thing Friday morning and add some gate and paddock schooling before
the stifling summer heat sets in for the day.

“What
I think about this racetrack is that it’s not one that you really need to come
in and do a lot of work over or run over,” Romans said. “I think it’s a
universal track that everybody comes in and can handle it pretty well. A track
like Belmont Park, I think you definitely benefit from a work over the
racetrack at Big Sandy. Churchill is a racetrack that a lot of times horses do
better if they’ve been there for a while. I’ve found that every horse I’ve
brought over here, if they’re doing good, they run good.”

Good
enough to beat the likes of Jack Christopher and Baffert’s Santa Anita Derby
(G1) winner Taiba?

“This is a tough race,” Romans said. “A short field but some good horses. I
mean there’s four Grade 1 winners in here. But he’s going the right direction.”

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