By Joe Bianca
Dale Romans holds a potentially loaded hand heading into the prep season for the GI Kentucky Derby, one that includes four stakes winners or stakes placed runners, all readying to make their sophomore bows in the next month or so.
The first of the foursome to run in 2018 will be Albaugh Family Stable and Brereton C. Jones’s Dak Attack (Ghostzapper), who went two-for-two last summer before being shelved for the rest of his juvenile campaign with a sore shin. The bay, a $625,000 Keeneland September purchase who broke his maiden June 15 at Churchill and captured the Ellis Park Juvenile S. Aug. 20, returns in the Mucho Macho Man S. Saturday at Gulfstream. He completed preparations for that engagement with a five-furlong bullet breeze in :59.06 (1/37) over the Hallandale strip Dec. 30.
“He’s doing well,” Romans said. “He worked really good Saturday. We won’t know [where he’ll run after Saturday], it’s very fluid with 3-year-olds on where we go.”
Also on the Gulfstream worktab Saturday was Frank L. Jones, Jr.’s Tiz Mischief (Into Mischief), who covered the same distance as his stablemate in 1:00.01 (2/37). The $55,000 KEESEP acquisition, a third-out graduate Oct. 7 at Keeneland, just missed when second by a head in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. Nov. 25 at Churchill.
“He’s doing great,” Romans said. “He’s pointing towards [the GII Holy Bull S.] Feb. 3.”
In addition to Dak Attack, Romans has two other Derby hopefuls for the Albaughs, including his most accomplished sophomore, GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity hero Free Drop Billy (Union Rags). The chestnut, a $200,000 KEESEP pickup, has yet to resurface after finishing ninth in the GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
“He’ll start working this week,” Romans said. “We’ll stay down south with him for now and figure out what races to go [in] with him later.”
Romans also added that the Albaughs’ ‘TDN Rising Star’ Hollywood Star (Malibu Moon) will join Free Drop Billy in returning to the worktab this week. The $550,000 KEESEP buy, sixth in the Juvenile, was previously runner-up in both the GII Saratoga Special S. and GIII Iroquois S.