LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- For newcomers to the Backside at Churchill Downs, there is a sense of nervous anticipation as we close in on the greatest two minutes in sports.
But even the most seasoned Kentucky Derby veteran can get a case of nerves, too. Especially if they think they have a chance to win.
If the trainer's tower had a window to the soul of Dale Romans, you could see the mind of a nervous trainer, but this case of Derby Fever defies logic. He has been here before.
“This is probably the most tense I've felt going into a Derby for some reason,” Romans said.
The reason is under the blanket.
Medal Count was a late bloomer at the Keeneland meet, second in the Bluegrass Stakes. That has Romans somehow confident and nervous at the same time.
“It may be because I really think we could win. I thought we could win before, you know, we came so close three times and haven't gotten there, but this horse is just doing everything so good,” he said.
Despite his success on Polytrack, this is Medal Count's home track. So, there are no track worries, no health worries, and handicapper Bill Dolittle said no pedigree worries.
“I think Medal Count has a little bit of distance pedigree. For one thing, he's by Dynaformer, who is the sire of Barbaro, who in my opinion is the best horse of the last 20 years to win the Derby, and he did it running away,” Dolittle said.
Is Medal Count, the second coming of Barbaro? It's enough to send a trainer back to the pedigree page.
“I think I have a profile in mind what I think a Derby horse is and he fits it perfectly. It's the pedigree, the running style, the size to handle himself when he gets bounced around, and the acceleration to get himself out of trouble,” Romans said.
Romans hit the board with Dullahan and Paddy O'Prado and won the Preakness with Shackleford, but this year beneath the exterior calm, he said he is really nervous.