Trainer Dale Romans was dealing with some technical issues on Sunday, one day after pupil Keen Ice ran down Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in Saturday’s Travers S. (G1) at Saratoga.
“I had so many calls my phone froze up and I haven’t been able to use it since last night,” Romans explained. “I finally got it working late this morning. I know everybody thinks I’m ignoring them, but it wouldn’t work.
“It’s been overwhelming since last night,” he continued while standing outside the barn. “I’ve been in a lot of big events and won a lot of big races, but the lingering effect of this one is bigger than (winning) the Preakness (G1) or any of them.”
Despite all the post-race hullabaloo on Sunday, Romans found time to speak with American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert.
“Bob is a class act and a sportsman,” Romans said. “He was proud of his horse, as he should have been. He knew what he was up against coming over here.
“I think American Pharoah ran his race. His Speed figure was really good. I thought (Baffert) had his horse well prepared and that he ran well. He took the worst of it getting hooked on the lead and had to work. But great horses have to earn it. They have a target on their back.”
Romans added that Keen Ice was a little tired Sunday after finally turning the tables on American Pharoah, who he finished seventh behind in the Kentucky Derby (G1), third in the Belmont S. (G1) and second in the Haskell Invitational (G1).
The Donegal Racing colorbearer just walked the shedrow Sunday morning.
“He was laying down last night before I left and that’s the first time I had seen that, so he was tired,” Romans acknowledged. “I think he really got a lot out of the race. I’d never seen him tired, but he’s tired now, and with every right to be so.”
A possible rematch between Keen Ice and American Pharoah could come in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on October 31 at Keeneland. While plans are still up in the air for American Pharoah, Romans indicated he’ll train Keen Ice up to that contest, which takes place at the same 1 1/4 miles as the Travers.
The duo will have a more recent encounter, though, as they share a plane ride to Lexington, Kentucky, early Monday morning. Keen Ice will disembark there for a van ride to Roman’s Churchill Downs barn while American Pharoah and stable pony Smokey continue on to Southern California.
Keen Ice photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography