ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Dale Romans is enjoying a new perspective after what he describes as a “life-changing” experience.
Romans was involved in a horrific car crash shortly after Brody’s Cause finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 7. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, his vehicle collided with another that ran a stop sign not far from Churchill Downs. The impact propelled his car into oncoming traffic, where it was struck again.
Romans, 49, and three passengers were injured, but none critically. After he watched Cherry Wine place second in the Preakness Stakes, Romans said he recently reported to a hospital on consecutive days for treatment of internal injuries. He was not required to remain overnight.
“Everybody is going to heal,” Romans said gratefully.
He wants to be sure to take some positive elements out of the frightening incident. Although he admits he did not always wear his seatbelt, his use of one that night might have saved him from a far worse fate. He vows to remain strapped in from now on.
“You don’t really know how violent a wreck is,” he said, “until you’ve been in one.”
The crash reminded him, his partner, Tammy, and members of their family how fragile life is, and how much every day is to be appreciated.
“You never know what tomorrow brings,” Romans said.
While fortunes can turn with stunning swiftness in racing, the future of his resurgent operation looks bright. His results had fallen off after he fashioned an outstanding year in 2012, when he earned 27 stakes wins at 12 tracks with stars such as Dullahan, Little Mike, Shackleford and Tapitsfly to receive the Eclipse Award as the leading trainer in North America.
“2012 was just so extraordinarily good that I knew we couldn’t keep it at that pace,” Romans said. “We’re fortunate to be in an uptick again.”
High-caliber barns do not stay down for long. The quality of the trainer and his staff inevitably leads to good owners willing to pay for strong racing prospects. Romans developed a keen eye for a horse with the help of his father, Jerry, a trainer who was based at Churchill Downs.
“One of the keys to my career is I do a pretty good job of buying horses at the sales,” said Romans. “I know how to buy the good ones, or at least avoid the bad ones you don’t want to fool with. And we know what to do with them when we get them.”
Brody’s Cause, a $350,000 purchase as a yearling at Keeneland’s September sale in behalf of Albaugh Family Stable, closed an auspicious 2-year-old campaign by running third in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The son of Giant’s Causeway has a Toyota Blue Grass Stakes victory to his credit this year. He zipped three furlongs in 37.11 seconds on June 4 at Belmont Park in his last major work for the Belmont Stakes.
“He’s super fit,” Romans said. “And when you’re going a mile and a half, you’d better be fit.”
Romans thinks Cherry Wine, foaled at his farm outside of Louisville, finally made up for the ground he lost when he developed a fever that forced him to miss the Fountain of Youth Stakes in late February. The son of Paddy O’Prado, a former Romans trainee, drilled five furlongs in 1:00.12 in his final tune-up last Saturday at Belmont Park.
“The two horses are coming into it as good as they can be,” said Romans, appreciating how much he has to be grateful for these days.