With jockey Julien Leparoux sitting still in the saddle, Runnymede-bred Rogue Romance lit up the main track at Keeneland just as dawn was breaking on October 23, powering through a five-furlong workout in company with stablemate Harlan’s Ruby in a bullet :58.40.
The move was the fastest of 41 workouts at the distance and was the penultimate for the chestnut son of Smarty Jones before he races in the Breeders’ Cup. A decision is still pending on whether Rogue Romance will run in the Juvenile (G1) at 1 1/16 miles on dirt or the Juvenile Turf (G2) at one mile on the grass.
Video of the workout is available at
“He went really great,” Leparoux reported to Runnymede General Manager Martin O’Dowd. “It was so easy—there was so much there and I never asked him.
“He could have done it in :56,” Leparoux added with a laugh.
Rogue Romance, who races in the silks of Runnymede Chairman Catesby W. Clay, won the Bourbon Stakes (G3) on the Keeneland turf in his most recent start.
Another Runnymede-bred, Norfolk Stakes (G1) winner Jaycito, turned in a bullet workout at Hollywood Park on October 21, zipping through six furlongs on the Cushion Track in 1:12.80, fastest of five at the distance that morning. Jockey Mike Smith, who rode Jaycito in the Norfolk and who is the regular rider of undefeated champion Zenyatta, was aboard for the move and said he was impressed with the son of Victory Gallop.
“There is a lot of improvement to go,” Smith told Daily Racing Form.
Rogue Romance also seems to be thriving and eagerly bounded across the Polytrack at Keeneland.
After jogging and cantering around the oval, Leparoux kept Rogue Romance outside of Harlan’s Ruby, who finished second in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) and is being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The pair streaked together down the stretch and galloped out under a full autumn moon, which was setting as the sun starting to rise.
“They were humming out there,” said a pleased trainer Ken McPeek, who described the workout as a maintenance move. He plans to ship both his star juveniles to Churchill Downs on October 25 so they can adjust to the new surroundings prior to their final Breeders’ Cup drills, tentatively planned for October 30.
Rogue Romance will be pre-entered in both the Juvenile and the Juvenile Turf. A decision on which race to enter will be made after an assessment of the potential fields and how the colt is doing as he exercises on Churchill’s main track.
“The colt worked beautifully,” O’Dowd said after observing Rogue Romance on the Keeneland track and during a subsequent visit to McPeek’s barn. “He did it so handily and Julien was just giving him a gentle hand ride.”
Split times for the workout were :12.60, :24, :36.40 and :47.20, and Rogue Romance galloped out six furlongs in 1:10.80, a time fast enough to win some of the races at that distance during the current Keeneland meet. His time while pulling up through seven furlongs was reported at 1:24.20.