LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Friday is opening day of the September Meet at Churchill Downs and the excitement is building, especially for thoroughbred horse trainer Dale Romans, who is in a tight race of his own.
“He's still running so even if we pass for a day we may go back and forth, back and forth,” said Romans.
Romans is just two wins behind Hall of Famer Bill Mott as the all-time leading trainer in races won at Churchill Downs. With three horses entered in races on Friday and nine on Saturday, this could be Romans’ chance to surpass Mott.
“If it comes to the point where I can stand in that Winners Circle one day, as the person who's stood there the most, it would be very special to me,” said Romans.
The South Louisville native says he practically grew up in barn four on the Backside of Churchill Downs, getting his trainer's license when he was 18-years-old.
“I don't know where it all went, it seems like every day I just got up and went to work, it's like Groundhog's Day, one day you wake up and you're at 700 wins,” says Romans.
With 699 wins to Mott's 701, the pressure is on during this September Meet, especially since a special someone will be in the stands.
“It's gotten my mother all excited. she's been keeping track, says she wants to be here every day until I pass it and that means a lot to me that it means so much to her,” said Romans.
One of Romans' horses, Hollywood Star, is a favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Iroquois race.
“He could be the horse that's running here next May, he's that kind of horse,” says Romans.
And the kind of horse that could push Romans to the top, ahead of Mott, his fierce, but friendly competition.
“He said, ‘it's inevitable now,’ he said he hoped he'd be here the day I passed him, that meant a lot,” said Romans.
The September Meet kicks off on Friday with the first race at 12:45 p.m. Gates open at 11:30 a.m.