Dale Romans Profile

Name Dale Romans
Born Aug 14, 1966
Age 54 years
Birthplace Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality American

Having won the Preakness Stakes with Shackleford in 2011, Romans is aiming for more Classic success in 2021.

Dale Romans is one of the top American Thoroughbred racehorse trainers. An Eclipse Award winner for outstanding trainer in 2012, his runners have won some of the sport's top races, including the Preakness Stakes, Breeders' Cup Turf and Travers Stakes.

Romans has a career record of more than 2,000 wins, 1,900 seconds and 1,700 thirds from over 13,000 starts. His total purse earnings sit above $110million.

Some of the trainer's top horses have included Grade 1 winners Roses in May, Little Mike, Shackleford, Kitten's Joy, Silver Max, Keen Ice, Dullahan and Paddy O'Prado.

He is one of the leading names on the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, but none of his horses participated in the race.


Dale Romans was born into a family involved in horse racing, with his father, Jerry Romans, being a trainer at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In 1984, he graduated from high school and began working for his father.

"I had a way with the horses. I could walk the worst horse in the country when I was 10 years old," Romans once said.

Romans 'had a way with horses' as a child

"My parents were divorced, and if my father had a bad horse he couldn't get on the van, he'd come and get me at home to load the horse. I don't know what it was about horses, but they saved me as a child."

Romans began his career as a trainer at the age of 18 and his first win came in 1987 at Turfway Park with Miss Mindy, a $1,500 purchase. It took a while for the trainer to make a name for himself though, with his first stakes victory not coming until 1991 at Turfway Park with Morning Punch. His first graded stakes win came in 1996 with Victor Avenue at Aqueduct.

Breakout years

It wasn't until 2004 that Romans had his breakout year. He ranked eighth by earnings among trainers in North America and his first Grade 1 victory came in the 2004 Whitney Handicap with Roses in May.

That same year, he won the 2004 Secretariat Stakes and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes with Kitten's Joy. The runner also finished second in the Breeders' Cup Turf that year, receiving the 2004 Eclipse Award for American Champion Grass Horse.

Romans received his biggest accolade when Roses in May won the Dubai World Cup in 2005. Soon after she was retired after suffering a tendon injury.

The trainer's 1,000th career victory came on June 11, 2006, when he won with Haiaccept at Churchill Downs. That same year, he broke from owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, who owned his top runners, Roses in May and Kitten's Joy.

Following his break from the Ramseys, Romans' stable suffered for a few years but started to recover in 2009. That year, Romans scored his first Breeders' Cup win as Tapitsfly raced to victory in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

In 2010, Romans trained Paddy O'Prado to a third-place finish in that year's Kentucky Derby. He also trained First Dude, who finished second in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes.

2011 was a big year for the trainer as Shackleford provided him with his first, and so far only, American Classic victory. The runner scored the 2011 Preakness Stakes following a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. That same year, Shackleford also finished second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, while Romans' Court Vision won the Breeders' Cup Mile. This contributed to Romans ranking eighth in North America by earnings in 2011.

Shackleford wins the 2011 Preakness Stakes

He continued his success into 2012, taking three Grade 1 races with Little Mike - the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes, the Arlington Million Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Turf.

In 2012, Romans also won the Blue Grass Stakes and The Pacific Classic Stakes with Dullahan. Dullahan also ran third in that year's Kentucky Derby, while Shackleford took the Metropolitan Handicap and Clark Handicap. Tapitsfly pulled in more Grade 1 wins with the Just A Game Stakes and the First Lady Stakes.

Romans finished 2012 ranked fourth in North America by earnings and he earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer for the first and so far only time.

That was a particularly prestigious year, but he continued to find some levels of success in the seasons that followed.

In 2014, he trained Medal Count to a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes and in 2015, he did it again with Keen Ice. One of Romans' most remarkable achievements was when Keen Ice beat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes at odds of 16/1. That year, he ranked 56th by wins among North American trainers.

Romans' next big performance came in the 2016 Preakness Stakes when Cherry Wine finished second, while his trainee Everfast finished second in the 2019 edition.

Dale Romans' top horses

The trainer has had many top-level horses throughout his career, but the most notable are Roses in May, Little Mike, Shackleford and Kitten's Joy, all of which are now retired.

Roses in May was a son of Devil His Due and owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey. He retired with a career record of 8-4-0 from 13 starts and earnings of almost $5.5million.

Priscilla Vaccarezza's Little Mike was a Florida-bred son of Spanish Steps. He retired with a record of 14-2-1 from 30 lifetime runs and earnings of $3.5million.

Shackleford, a Kentucky-bred son of Forestry, was owned by Michael Lauffer and W. D. Cubbedge. He ran to victory in the Clark Handicap in his last race in 2012, retiring with a record of 6-5-1 from 20 career starts and with earnings of just over $3million.

Lastly, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy was a son of the Irish-bred El Prado. He closed his career with a record of 9-4-0 from 14 starts and purse earnings north of $2million.

2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby

Dale Romans had two runners on the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby, with Smiley Sobotka having just four points and Sittin On Go 10. Neither qualified for the Churchill Downs showpiece.

Smiley Sobotka is a three-year-old Brody's Cause colt owned by Albaugh Family Stables. He finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November 2020, an effort which gave him his qualifying points. He finished ninth in the February 6, 2021, Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay.

Sittin On Go is a chestnut colt and son of Brody's Cause. His 10-point haul came when winning the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs on September 5. He has disappointed since, with a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, sixth in both the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the Holy Bull Stakes, and seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby last time out.