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Romans 'Keen' on chances for Ky. Derby entry

April 23, 2015

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Article via The Courier-Journal, Jonathan Lintner

Trainer Dale Romans is still awaiting final word from officials that, "You are in" the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, he's conditioning Keen Ice as if he'll race on the first Saturday in May.

The Donegal Racing-owned colt sits 21st in Road to the Derby standings, one defection away from making it into the gate. That Todd Pletcher has five potential Derby horses but hasn't confirmed three of them will run has Romans upbeat about the chances – not just to enter, but for Keen Ice to compete.

"His form isn't going to be as good as some of the favorites when they go into it, but if you look at him, he's the prototypical Derby horse," Romans said Thursday on a quiet day for Derby training at Churchill Downs. "He wants to go a mile and a quarter. He's a big, strong horse that can overcome some bumping if that happens. He's got a nice running style for the race.

"When you close like him, you can't control the race. You're kind of a victim of what happens in front of you – the pace, getting a clean trip – but if things go his way, he'll be really tough. We've seen it with a lot of horses – Mine That Bird type of situations. But he's talented enough, and he's peaking at the right time."

If Keen Ice doesn't have a spot when entries are taken Wednesday, he'll place Keen Ice on the also-eligible list. Should a horse then scratch by Friday morning, Keen Ice would start from the outside post.

"Big Brown handled the 20 hole pretty good," Romans said of the 2008 winner. "With our running style, we're just going to drop back and probably make one run anyway."

If Keen Ice doesn't way into the Derby field, connections will point to the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Others on the outside of the Derby field and still looking in are Nick Zito's Frammento, Steve Asmussen's Bold Conquest, El Camino Real Derby winner Metaboss and Firespike, 25th in standings and also nominated to Churchill Downs' Grade II American Turf on the Derby undercard.

Keen Ice scored a maiden win last September at Churchill Downs in his second start. Most recently, he ran fourth in the Louisiana Derby and third in the Risen Star Stakes, both points-paying Derby preps at Fair Grounds.

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