Kentucky Derby notes: Trainer Romans stressed out by ease of it all

awincze@herald-leader.comApril 30, 2014 

LOUISVILLE — The biggest thing stressing out trainer Dale Romans is how little he has to get worked up over.

Of the four previous Kentucky Derby starters Romans has saddled, he can't recall one that has gone about their business as easily as Grade III winner Medal Count has in the run-up to the 140th running of the first leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday.

Physically, Medal Count seems to get better and more imposing by the day. And each morning, Medal Count is among the most enthusiastic gallopers at Churchill Downs.

"I felt more stress going into this Derby than any of the others because there is nothing really to focus on to stress about the horse," Romans said. "Not having something to work on or worry about or something to keep my mind occupied. He's just been too easy. I'm stressing about everything because he's doing so well."

Medal Count didn't cement his place in the Derby field until he finished second to Dance With Fate in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, eight days after winning the Grade III Transylvania at Keeneland.

Romans, a Louisville native, did not saddle a Kentucky Derby starter last year after having one for three straight seasons.

"The biggest difference is when I didn't make it last year, and I was miserable," Romans said. "Going three years in a row and then skipping a year, I mean it was hard for me to get motivated to come out here and see the race. It was a very different perspective after three years of being in."

Contessa rooting for rain

The sportsman in trainer Gary Contessa wants a beautiful, clear Derby Day. Knowing what he does about his charge Uncle Sigh, Contessa is hoping the rain that has shown itself all week makes an appearance on the first Saturday in May as well.

In his spins at Churchill this week, Gotham and Withers Stakes runner-up Uncle Sigh has seemed to skip over the sloppy going. Along with the addition of blinkers that he will wear to keep him more focused in the race, Uncle Sigh is among those who figure to move up if showers hit on Saturday.

"Gary Contessa is rooting for a sloppy track," the man himself laughed. "As a horseman I'm rooting for a beautiful day and a great day of racing for Churchill. But if that track is sloppy it would definitely benefit him and move him up there. He definitely excels on a wet track."

Napravnik suspended

Rosie Napravnik will serve a four-day suspension after she rides Vicar's in Trouble in the Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs stewards punished Napravnik for her role in the disqualification of Bayern from first to second in last weekend's Derby Trial.

Napravnik and Bayern made contact with Embellishing Bob in the final furlong, and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. lodged an objection against Napravnik. Stewards agreed and changed the order of finish, elevating Embellishing Bob to first and dropping Bayern to second.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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