(Dennis’ Moment headed to the track for the G3 Iroquois Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
(Trainer Dale Romans chats with Joe Kristufek after the big win in the Iroquois / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Churchill Downs Media Team:
Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer Dale Romans reported Sunday morning that Albaugh Family Stable’s Dennis’ Moment will target the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) following his 1 ¾-length score in Saturday’s $200,000 Iroquois (GIII) – the kickoff of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.”
“He’s just such a smart horse at this stage of his career,” Romans said Sunday. “He’s back at the barn this morning and doing great after the race and now we move on to the next one. I’m trying not to look too far ahead with him because it is only September but yesterday’s race gave us a lot of excitement the way he was able to take dirt for the first time and still rally to win.”
Ridden by the nation’s top rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Dennis’ Moment was under a hand ride in the final stages of the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois to win in a final time of 1:43.58. Romans said Dennis’ Moment will have a couple of days off before beginning his early preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
With Dennis’ Moment’s victory in the Iroquois, he is the early leader on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 10 points. Runner-up Scabbard, who had to check briefly on the turn before closing ground in the late stages of the race, earned four points while third-place finisher Lebda banked two points and fourth-place finisher Letmeno tallied one point.
The next race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the $300,000 American Pharoah (GI) held Sept. 27 at Santa Anita.
Local Professional Wrestling Legend Turns to Training Horses – When fans walk through the doors at the renowned Danny Davis Arena – home of Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) – there are photos that line the walls of some of professional wrestling’s all-time greats who graced the ring in Louisville, such as Dave Bautista, John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. On that wall amongst wrestling’s superstars is the iconic Jerome “Frank” Miller, better known across the wrestling world as Trailer Park Trash.
For more than 20 years, Miller shed his blood, sweat and tears in a business he loved until he decided to hang up his wrestling boots to follow his grandfather’s footsteps and become a horse trainer.
Miller’s grandfather, Jerome “Jerry” Miller was a small trainer for many years in Kentucky and taught him some of the ins and outs of the business.
“My grandfather was the reason I started training horses,” said Miller, who is stabled in Barn J at Churchill Downs’ Trackside Louisville – located approximately five miles from the main track. “He only had two or three horses but I would always spend time on the backside with him and he taught me so much about the game.”
During his time as a wrestler, Miller was billed at 6’ 1”, weighed in at 229 lbs. and was from “all over the country because his home was mobile.” In reality, Miller’s early stages in life were similar to his character because he moved many times across the country until he settled back to his original home in the Germantown neighborhood of Louisville as a teenager.
At 17, Miller decided to enter Danny Davis’ wrestling school and in six short months, he had his first match. During his time at OVW, Miller was a six-time tag team champion, and the first-ever hardcore champion and heavyweight champion. Miller traveled around the world because of wrestling, mainly with World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer Jerry“The King” Lawler.
“When I worked with Jerry, we’d be on the road nearly every day of the week,” Miller said. “We traveled back and forth between towns all over the mid-south such as Memphis, Tenn., Little Rock, Ark. and Louisville. I toured all over the world to countries like Puerto Rico, Mexico and Japan. However, I would always find time to go to racetracks whenever I traveled. I couldn’t understand much of the program but it was always fun to watch races in places like Japan where they ran clockwise.”
In 2000, Miller’s daughter Jeri was born and 18 months later, he received sole custody.
“I raised my daughter on my own and, once I became a single father, I knew I had to stop traveling as much for wrestling,” Miller said. “Now she’s grown, happily married and I have a grandson.”
Miller’s first win as a trainer came in 2008 and, while he was still training horses, remained a mainstay at OVW. In 2013, Miller retired from the ring to continue his sole focus on being a trainer.
A technician in the ring, Miller brings a similar mentality to his small string of horses at Trackside.
“I think training wrestlers is similar to training horses,” Miller said. “When you train wrestlers, if you keep them healthy, fit and happy they’ll perform in the ring. The same goes with horses. Therefore, I use a lot of that mentality in my training.”
Now, like many trainers, Miller begins his day before the sun rises but he usually wraps up training by 7:30 a.m. After training, the 47-year-old’s day is just beginning. Miller works a second job in order to pay his personal bills.
“This is essentially the first ‘real’ job I’ve ever had,” Miller said. “Eventually I hope to get to the place where I can train on a full-time basis. Life is not about money anymore. I have been there and done that. If I can pay my bills and have a roof over my head; that is all I can really ask for.
“I’ve broken 36 bones and had numerous concussions. I wake up every day with something bothering me but it all seems to go away when I’m around my horses. Training horses is everything to me and, hopefully, this is just the start of something better to come in the future. Every trainer has a dream of finding that one horse and I know that horse is out there for me.”
(Covfefe should be one of the favorites for the Dogwood Stakes this coming Saturday at Churchill Downs / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
DOGWOOD STAKES PROBABLES – Next Saturday’s $125,000 Dogwood Stakes (Listed) is the featured event on the 11-race program. Here are the probable entrants according to Assistant Racing Secretary and Stakes Coordinator Dan Bork: Bell’s the One (trainer Neil Pessin), Covfefe (Brad Cox); Free Cover (Bret Calhoun); and Istan Council (Larry Jones). Entries for the race will be drawn Wednesday.
FAMILY ADVENTURE DAY SCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY, SEPT. 22 – Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger at Churchill Downs is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22.
Families are encouraged to bring the kids to Churchill Downs for a day of racing and family activities including pony rides, inflatables, a petting zoo, stick horse races on the turf course, face painting and more.
The theme is “Be Creative!” and special happenings include interaction with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Mobile Science Activity Center; artwork with mural and conceptual artist Resko; arts and crafts with Side by Side Studio; a mobile recording studio with AMPED: The Academy of Music Production, Education and Development; and a meet-and-greet with Elsa, Superman and Churchill Charlie.
Tickets for adults and children age 3 and up are $10 when purchased online in advance at ChurchillDowns.com ($12 at the gate), and include unlimited access to all kid-friendly activities through 5 p.m. Churchill Downs is also offering a Family Four Pack that includes four Family Adventure Day tickets, four family meals in the Family Adventure Day area and two racing programs for only $48 (a $64 package includes reserved box seats).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing will continue Thursday for a four-day week with a first post of 5 p.m. for Twilight Thursday Presented by Blue Moon. The eight-race program features live music from DJ S.Y.I.M.O.N.E, $1 Blue Moon drafts and $1 select domestic beers and food truck fare from Joella’s Hot Chicken, Flavaville, Red Top Gourmet Hot Dogs, Sweet N Savory Crepes and Mark’s Feed Store. First post Friday-Sunday will be at 12:45 p.m. … The final Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser for 2019 of the year will be staged Saturday, Sept. 28. The 11-race program will feature a stakes triplicate with the $250,000 Lukas Classic Presented by Budweiser (GIII), $150,000 Ack Ack Presented by GE Appliances and the $125,000 Jefferson Cup (Listed). The theme for the evening will be “Bourbon and Beats” and guests are encouraged to wear autumn-inspired purple colors. Entertainment includes Glittertitz DJz, DJ S.Y.I.M.O.N.E and DJ Matt Anthony as part of a Silent Disco in the Plaza. Ticket options are available at ChurchillDowns.com.