Post-race interview w/ Travers winner Keen Ice's trainer Dale Romans
TRAVERS (G1) WINNING TRAINER QUOTES
Dale Romans, winning trainer of Keen Ice (No. 7)
"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. The race set up good for him, but we didn't lag. We weren't worried about running second. We put him in the race closer than he's been in his career.
"This horse is a different horse since coming out of the Haskell. He's trained sharp all week. It was a month after the Haskell and he was ready, and he showed it today. "
On stealing thunder from American Pharoah?
"American Pharoah's legacy is not tarnished in any way. Secretariat got beat, Seattle Slew got beat, Affirmed got beat. They [the Zayats and Bob Baffert] are great sportsmen for keeping him running and taking a chance with him. He has run very hard all year and he ran a very good race today. He was pressed, [Frosted] took it to him, and we were fortunate to be running behind.
"But I'm not going to take anything away from our horse. He ran him down. He bellied down to get him. My horse was extremely gutsy. He got a good ride from Javier [Castellano]. He's been great to train, and people are going to know who he is before his career is over."
How confident were you in him going in?
"Maybe it's just arrogance, but I felt good about today, I really did. He had just trained too good. I knew he was going to run really big and I just couldn't imagine Pharoah taking another step forward. I thought if he's backed up a touch, and if somebody softened him a little bit, and there were too many guys in there who wanted to win the race and not run second for somebody just to let him get out there and gallop around.
"Kiaran [McLaughlin] is a sportsman. Kiaran went after him. He wanted to win. He could have lagged and run for second but he wanted to win the race."
On Pharoah not bringing his best today:
"Pharoah is a fabulous, fabulous horse and I hope the Zayats are thankful for what he's done and not disappointed for what happened today. They have done a fabulous job managing him, Bob has done a great job training him and he's just a super horse."
On Keen Ice bringing his best:
"My horse has gotten better every day and he keeps getting better and better. He's proved he's a classic distance horse and one of these days he'll be a classic distance sire."
On whether to run him again before the Breeders' Cup Classic or train up to the race:
"Jerry [Crawford, owner Donegal Racing] and I have such a good working relationship and we think on par all the time. We'll sit down and discuss it and we'll see how the horse is training and come up with the right plan. But if you had to put a gun to my head right now, I'd say that we train right into the race. He's not hard to train and he's not hard to keep fit and he's sharp."
On his emotions winning the Travers for the first time:
"I think I'm having an adrenaline letdown now. I forgot my trophy, my press conference, I'm exhausted. I ran to the winner's circle carrying Tammy and that's the most I've run in 10 years. I've won some big races but like Jake (his son) said, 'I'm back.' I've won some big races. This is a historic race. It feels pretty damn good.
"Walking up here [the barn] and having [Hall of Fame trainer] Leroy Jolley waiting for me and [Hall of Fame rider] Jacinto Vasquez be the first to call me is about as special as it can get in horse racing. Those are two of my childhood heroes."
Did you consider skipping the Travers and dodging Americn Pharoah?
"Dodging is for the modest people. I'm not dodging.
"I thought from the early fractions they might be going a little slow, but you can't really tell from the times always. It's how they're doing it. So watching my horse, they looked like they were really running and they were working, and I could see my horse was getting through on the inside like we needed to be and we got the tip-out at the right point, and Texas Red fell off of us at just the right time, and that pumped his heart out a little bit. Then he switched to his right lead and had dead aim on them. And he just wore 'em down.
"Javier gave him a ride that was just perfect. When Jerry [Crawford] called him this morning and told him that we want to do something silly and put him in the race and not lag, he said 'I was hoping you'd call me and say that.' At this stage for all of us, Jerry has had great accomplishments and I have as a trainer, and Javier right now is unparalleled in the Travers, second wasn't going to do us any good. We needed to try to win."
Dale Romans photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography