Romansh outduels entrymate to take Excelsior
By Sean Morris | 03/22/2014 06:02 PM ET
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Romansh bounced back to the form he showed late in his 3-year-old season, gutting out a win over entrymate Long River in the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Tom Albertrani for Godolphin Racing, Romansh shadowed the early pace set by Percussion in second through a quarter-mile in 23.68 seconds and a half in 47.90. When jockey Jose Ortiz asked his mount for run around the far turn, the dark bay or brown colt responded by promptly overtaking the pacesetter to open up a narrow advantage entering the stretch, but was soon confronted by a surging Long River. At the eighth pole, it appeared Long River was poised to draw off to victory, but Romansh was resolute along the inside, battling his stablemate all the way to the wire to prevail by a neck.
"[When Long River] came to him, I was just happy to be second to his entrymate," said Albertrani. "When I saw him coming back on again that made it even sweeter."
The Godolphin-owned colt commenced his 4-year-old year with an uncharacteristically dull effort in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park that left his connections perplexed. On Saturday, he left little doubt he had reclaimed the form he displayed when taking the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap by 9 ¼ lengths last fall at the Big A.
"I was just hoping he'd redeem himself," said Albertrani. "His last race was so confusing. He trained well before the race and he came out of the race training well. Maybe it was a matter of the surface there [in Florida] or the fact he hadn't run in a while; just a couple different things. It just didn't figure why he would run so bad."
The victory, Romansh's third stakes win, is certainly something his connections hope he can build off of.
"I think he's a serious horse," said Albertrani. "We've always thought that way. He's got a good future and we'll play things by ear as far as his next race."
The son of Bernardini covered the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.07 and the win boosted his career bankroll to $373,580. He returned $2.50 on a $2 win bet as part of the 1-5 favored entry with Long River and his record now stands at 5-2-0 through 10 starts.
Long River, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin added another to a string of good races dating back to September 22, but his three-race win streak was snapped in the process.
"Great run," said McLaughlin's assistant, Art Magnuson. "We ran really well, had a great trip, got there, and ran into a very game Romansh. It's a good result for everybody. Of course, we wanted to win, but we're very happy for the whole team."
It was another 4 ¼ lengths back to Percussion in third, who finished a head in front of Dawly. Praetereo and Don Dulce rounded out the order of finish and Mr. Palmer was scratched.