Donegal Racing
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Romans-trained longshots 1-2 in Iroquois

September 18, 2013

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Little doubt that Dale Romans has “bounced” after his Eclipse Award-winning 2012 season, but an incredible finish to the Iroquois Stakes on Saturday night made up for a lot of 2013 disappointment.

A wild winner’s circle celebration was kicked off when a pair of Romans longshots, Cleburne and Smart Cover, finished 1-2 for Donegal Racing in the Grade 3, $171,750 Iroquois, one of four stakes on a Downs After Dark card at Churchill Downs.

Cleburne, a 34-1 shot, finished a neck ahead of his stablemate Smart Cover, a 26-1 shot in a field of 10 2-year-olds.

“This is fabulous,” Romans said while mobbed by well-wishers afterward. “Look at all these Donegal people.”

With about 100 yards to go, such a finish looked highly improbable. Tapiture and Ride On Curlin, both 2-1, had engaged in a sustained duel from the quarter pole to the eighth pole, with Tapiture finally getting the best of that battle. But then Cleburne suddenly surfaced with an outside surge, and then Smart Cover came flying with a belated run farthest out onto the track. The winning time for the 1 1/16-mile distance was 1:45.65 over a fast surface.

Tapiture finished third, another neck back, with Ride On Curlin fourth by another two lengths.

Corey Lanerie, who had arrived less than an hour earlier when among eight jockeys on a charter plane following a full day of riding at Kentucky Downs, was aboard Cleburne.

Cleburne earned an expenses-paid Win and You’re In berth toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, as well as the first 10 points toward the 2014 Kentucky Derby.

Donegal, managed by Iowa attorney Jerry Crawford, has been a prominent player in recent years with such standouts as Dullahan and Paddy O’Prado.

The $2 exacta (5-10) paid an even $500, surely far lower than what it would have paid if not for the obvious all-Romans/Donegal combination.

Tapiture, a maiden, clearly ran well in defeat, while the result was more a disappointment for Run On Curlin, who had been the subject of deep-pocketed suitors since starting his career here in June.

“No excuse,” said Calvin Borel, rider of Run On Curlin.

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