When Dennis' Moment (Tiznow) romped to a 19 1/4-length maiden victory at Ellis Park Saturday, the performance drew obvious comparisons to another Albaugh Family Stables runner who graduated impressively at the Henderson oval three years ago. Not This Time (Giant's Causeway) carried the operation's blue and white silks to a 10-length maiden score in August of 2016. He went on to add an 8 3/4-length win in the GIII Iroquois S. and came up just a neck short of champion Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) when second in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
“It's crossed my mind a lot today and last night,” Loutsch, partner in and racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables, told the Ellis Park communications team of the similarities between the two horses. “I've had a lot of people say, 'Well, that was kind of like Not This Time.' Maybe this was more impressive what this horse did, just the way he did it and how he did it. But there are a lot of similarities.”
While expectations were high for Not This Time, the talented colt suffered a soft-tissue injury in the Breeders' Cup and never raced again.
“In this game today, you just never know what's going to happen,” Loutsch said. “At this time with Not This Time, we were pretty excited about him, and all in one race, it's over. You've just got to just enjoy these special moments and then take it day by day and race by race, and hopefully he takes us where we want to go.”
Dennis' Moment, who was tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star', was making his second start Saturday after clipping heels and unseating jockey Robby Albarado in his June 23 debut at Churchill. His devastating maiden victory impressed trainer Dale Romans, who also conditioned Not This Time.
“He came out of the race really good,” Romans said by phone from Louisville. “I don't know. It's just incredible. I've never seen anything like it out of one of my first-time starters. He's just freaky good.
Romans continued, “I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of good horses. This horse has a lot of steps between now and doing what some of them have done, like [GI Preakness S. winner] Shackleford or [champion] Kitten's Joy. But I'll tell you what, as a 2-year-old, he's trained as well as anyone I've ever been around.”
As for where Dennis' Moment starts next, Romans is keeping his options open.
“I'm not even going to think about his next stop for a few days,” Romans said. “Let emotions die down. There are a lot of options.”
Dennis' Moment, a $400,000 purchase at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, is the namesake of Loutsch's father-in-law, Des Moines entrepreneur and philanthropist Dennis Albaugh.
“We had another Dennis about three years ago and he couldn't break his maiden,” Loutsch said. “So we thought we better try another one. I kind of picked this one out at the Fasig-Tipton sale last August. I just love Tiznow and always wanted to own a Tiznow. I just fell in love with this horse last year, just how athletic-looking he was. Thank God Dennis allowed me to get him. That's just one I had earmarked that I thought would be a special horse.”