Keen Ice was unable to give American trainer Dale Romans his second Dubai World Cup on Saturday night at Meydan, but the occasion did give the Kentucky horseman a chance to take a swipe at racing in his homeland and roll out his case for a Hong Kong trainer’s licence should a vacancy emerge.
Romans, who turns 50 in August, is known to have had an unofficial chat and tour of the facilities with club officials when he brought Little Mike for the Longines Hong Kong International Races in 2013.
The winner of scores of Group One events, including the 2005 Dubai World Cup, a Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup events, Romans handed American Pharoah a rare racecourse defeat with Keen Ice last August at Saratoga but had to be content with the horse filling eighth behind California Chrome on Saturday.
However, the trainer made it clear to the Post that he is ready and willing to shift base to Hong Kong if a spot becomes available should Sean Woods or Andreas Schutz not make the performance criteria for a third time - and if the club wants to license him.
Watch Dale Romans-trained Shackleford win the 2011 Preakness Stakes
“I’m ready for an adventure and I’m so sick of what’s happened to the sport in the US. I’m done with it,” Romans said. “I’m a horseman and I think races should be won by the better horseman, not something else. I was very impressed with what I saw in Hong Kong when I was there and I know that, because the vet side of racing is so tightly controlled there, it’s the superior horseman who will succeed. They’ve never had an American trainer but if they want me, I’d love to train there.”
Romans is an interesting option because the club policy has been to replace outgoing “northern hemisphere” trainers with another northern hemisphere trainer, a suitable candidate has not always been easy to find, and both Schutz and Woods would be classed that way.
Romans has an advantage over Europeans in that he is accustomed to training on circle racetracks, not more open ground, and said he would not be fazed by the move to two separate bases, Sha Tin and Conghua, a change anticipated for Hong Kong’s trainers in two years from now.
“That’s what we do all the time in the States. All year long we have separate teams of horses being trained at different tracks in different parts of the country,” Romans said. “And I think my runners would have a big following from horseplayers in the States now that there’s so much simulcasting of the Hong Kong races to America. I think I could help with that.”