by TERESA GENARO

For J Boys Echo, the wins have come in New York…but his trainer’s heart is in Kentucky.
 
Wearing a light jacket in the freezing Aqueduct winner’s circle, Dale Romans didn’t need a lot to warm him up after his colt won Saturday’s Gotham (G3) and 50 Kentucky Derby points, virtually ensuring him a spot in the starting gate on May 6.
 
Following J Boys Echo’s third-place finish at Aqueduct in the Withers (G3) a month ago, Romans didn’t immediately commit to a return trip to New York, but, happy with the way the son of Mineshaft handled the inner track, the Louisville native elected to ship back up from Florida. Whether he comes back a third time to run in the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 8, however, remains to be seen.
 
“It’s going to be hard to skip the Blue Grass,” he acknowledged, “but New York’s been good to me, so we have to sit down and talk about it.”
 
Both the Wood Memorial and Keeneland’s Blue Grass were downgraded this year by the American Graded Stakes Committee to Grade 2 status, on which the typically outspoken Romans offered an opinion.
 
“Those races were both unjustly declassed to Grade 2,” he said, “but I don’t care. I’m going to run in one of the two. They’re still Grade 1 [races] to me.”
 
Romans won last year’s Blue Grass with Brody’s Cause and finished second in the race in 2010 with Paddy O’Prado.
 
In just his second start, Cloud Computing may well have put himself on the Derby trail, finishing second and earning 20 Derby points, a number that doesn’t make him a lock, but that puts him in comfortable position heading into the final round of Derby preps next month.
 
After winning both the Jerome (G3) and the Withers at Aqueduct, El Areeb was a well-beaten third after being pressured in the early going. Still, he earned 10 more points, and his total of 30 is likely enough to get him to Louisville, should his connections still be considering that option.
 
“He ran his race and he’ll come back and fight another day,” trainer Cathal Lynch said. “This is a nice horse and he’ll do well later on. I’ll talk to the owners and decide what we’re going to do next.”
 
The owners of J Boys Echo, Albaugh Family Stable, were formerly part of Donegal Racing, owner of Paddy O’Prado.
 
“They’re doing a lot of things right,” Romans said. “They’re going at it full-blown, and they’ve come up with some good horses.”
 
And while Romans’ stable is based in sunny South Florida, he had no trouble, he said, convincing them to run in Ozone Park.
 
With the lure of his home state beckoning next time, though, he might not even try. Then again…
 
“I think it’s great to win in New York,” Romans said. “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere. I said that one time and got me a song out of it. This was a whole lot of fun to come up here.”

(Photo by Teresa Genaro)