Barbaro Updates: 951 – 1016

Barbaro, with Messaging, at Fair Hill Training Center

Posted November 10, 2006

Update 1016: The Barbaro update may be a little later in the morning this morning.

The following is a summary of what occured during a Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in Lexington, held in October: Racehorse Welfare and Safety Recommendations Released. It is obviously good to see members of the industry working hard to find some well needed solutions. However the piece of the article that concerns me most is this:

As the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit does not have any authority to implement these recommendations, the proposed strategic plan will be forwarded to potential responsible parties for their consideration.

Update 1015: I just spoke to Peter, who had spoken with Michael. Michael visited Barbaro this afternoon and took him out to graze. Barbaro remains comfortable.

Here is the piece on Horse Slaughter that ran last night on WGAL, Channel 8 (NBC): Horse Slaughter: This video may be disturbing to some viewers. Thanks to Lor in PA.

Update 1014: A good commentary on the state of horse racing in the US as illustrated by the recent Breeders’ Cup: Vantage Point: Fragile racehorses deserve protection. The following is an excerpt:

Goodman also argued for Polytrack, a blend of recycled rubber, sand and pieces that look like carpet remnants.

Who could be opposed to better footing? Some thrifty track owners, for sure. But gamblers may scoff, too. How do you handicap one race on a Polytrack versus another on a dirt oval?

Gamblers are the financial feed of horse racing, but safety is a blue chip to the bottom line when it comes to product protection.

The only comment I take issue with is the recommendation to shorten races. Shorter races simply asks the horse to run faster, it won’t make things safer I think.

I had been trying to get an interview with Michael Dickinson leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. He was in Dubai, so I was unable to do so. Now I know why: Godolphin replaces Al Quoz dirt surface with Tapeta.

I have been fortunate enough to visit Al Quoz. A beautiful training establishment.

Update 1013: Sue McMullen has e-mailed this follow up of the European contenders for last week’s Breeders’ Cup (as well as a note on the Melboune Cup 1-2 and Collier Hill):

From the trainers available to comment (some are enjoying well-earned vacations) there are no adverse reports on any of the euro runners, so here’s a bit of news on some of them.

Her legion of fans will be delighted to hear that following Ouija Board’s minor injury in the Filly and Mare when she was struck into, she has recovered very well and is due to fly from New York to Japan tomorrow. The injury never gave cause for concern, merely requiring a dose of antibiotics, so plans for her are unchanged. The globe-trotting superstar is set to contest the Japan Cup on 26th of this month, following which she will make her final racing appearance in the big international meeting in Hong Kong on December 10th. What a truly remarkable horse she is, shuttling around the world, on and off aeroplanes, so often in strange stables and unfamiliar surroundings yet she continues to produce brilliant performances. News of her will be reported here on the approach to both these races.

Following his gallant fifth after missing the break in the Mile, Rob Roy will be enjoying a sunnier climate as he is due to continue his career in California with Neil Drysdale. The belief is that the US style of racing will suit him better and his supporters here will be rooting for him in his new home. He truly deserves to win a big one.

Juvenile filly Satulagi has returned in good order. Hopefully they brought back the right filly as she was so covered in dirt after the race they might have mixed her up with another one. She is reported as being well after her game attempt on dirt and will continue her career in Dubai, where the racing season has just started.

A number of the BC runners were due to retire after the event, including our wonderful, charismatic George Washington. There will be more news of him when trainer Aiden O’Brien returns from his much-needed vacation. Also off to stud are Hurricane Run, Aussie Rules, Ad Valorem, David Junior, Araafa and Librettist, the Godolphin Miler who didn’t regain winning form after his two classy performances in France earlier this year. He missed the entire season as a three-year-old due to various problems so did well to return at four and win big races. Stablemate Echo of Light was another disappointment in the Mile and is now in Dubai where he will be aimed at the Carnival and World Cup Meeting. This four-year-old son of Sheikh Mohammed’s favourite horse, the late Dubai Millennium (died of grass sickness), is a very impressive looking individual and has scored in Group 2 and 3, but has yet to win a Group 1.

Turf hero Red Rocks will, as already reported, return next year to defend his title, all being well, and his early season target will be the Dubai Sheema Classic. Our horses certainly clock up the air miles.

A quick note about the two Japanese raiders, Delta Blues and Pop Rock, who took first and second in the Melbourne Cup. Both horses will be aimed at the Hong Kong Vase on December 10, where they will meet with that grand old warrior and hero of the Woodbine International, Collier Hill.

As I was grazing Hawty Creek, I looked across to Michael Matz’s barn. Michael was in one of his paddocks removing the rug from one of his horses who was busy grazing. I had to ask, but I already knew, it was Round Pond.

Update 1012: Another comfortable night for Barbaro last night (thursday night). I saw Michael Matz on the track on my second set as I was jogging ‘TV star’ Chappy back before her breeze. It’s another gorgeous morning here at Fair Hill…no cloud cover yet warm. I’m about to take Hawty Creek out back; she can get a little too excited on the race track. So going out back is good mental and physical therapy.

Tim’s horse Real Lace ran a troubled third last night at Laurel Park in her first race against winners. She cooled out well and looks good in her stall this morning.
updated friday 7:20am

Update 1011: A nice article that discusses the global impact of the Breeders’ Cup: Global Impact. ‘Course as a Fair Hill resident I would have prefered Ouija Board and Red Rocks stay at home! That being said (in jest of course) I am hoping Sue McMullen will provide us a wrap up of how the European contigent is doing after the Cup.

The Barbaro update should again be sometime early this morning. The piece on Horse Slaughter did air last night on WGAL (Alex on Lancaster, PA TV). I have not seen it yet, but hope it appears on the internet.

Posted by Alex at 10:34 AM | Comments (537)
Barbaro Updates: 128
Posted November 9, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 1010: Peter visited Barbaro this afternoon and gave an upbeat report. Barbaro was laying down when he arrived. He got up, and Peter gave him a good grooming. Barbaro went out later in the afternoon for a pick of grass.

Update 1009: CBS Early Show this morning: Barbaro’s Cast is Removed.

Update 1008: Its turning into a beautiful day! I just visited Graham Motion’s barn and saw Better Talk Now in the porta pad. I was chatting with Sue about how well he looks, and she remarked that he is the best turf distance horse in the country. And that he is! I was actually escorting Mike Jensen (Philadelphia Inquirer) around, he is doing another story. It should be (another) good one.

The horse slaughter piece for which I was interviewed will run tonight, 11 pm, WGAL Channel 8 (NBC) out of Lancaster. It may repeat on their 5 am newscast. Apparently a trailer for the piece ran yesterday, and I was in the trailer!

Chicago did a piece last night: Special Report: Out to Pasture (note: includes some disturbing video).

Update 1007: Another comfortable night for Barbaro last night (wednesday night). Just saw Michael Matz as I was coming up to the track on Chappy for my second set. Michael had heard from Dr. Richardson. It’s a pretty warm, almost muggy morning. I hear that Better Talk Now arrived back in Fair Hill yesterday. Film Maker was turned out in a big paddock somewhere, due to her retirement she’s not coming back to Fair Hill. This is one time Film Maker beats Ouija Board…to the retirement shed!
updated thursday 7:10am

Update 1006: Steve Haskin writes this wrap-up article on this year’s Breeders’ Cup: Steve Haskin’s Breeders’ Cup Wrap-Up. It was nice to see Steve highlight Graham Motion’s horses:

Unsung heroes — It’s about time we pay tribute to stablemates Film Maker and Better Talk Now, who have run in the Breeders’ Cup (Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf and John Deere Turf, respectively) the past three years and have quietly compiled a record of one victory, three seconds, and one third. And despite their success on Breeders’ Cup day, as well as the rest of the year, they rarely receive a mention.

The 6-year-old Film Maker has now run 16 consecutive races without finishing worse than fourth, and only two of those races were fourth-place finishes. She’s also never been worse than fourth in nine grade I attempts. In her career, she’s been in the money in 23 of 27 races, while being ridden by 11 different jockeys, and in her last six starts, the only fillies to finish in front of her have been Ouija Board, Gorella, Honey Ryder, and Intercontinental.

The 7-year-old Better Talk Now has now finished first and second in the John Deere BC Turf (gr. IT), has won the grade I Man o’War, United Nations, and Sword Dancer, and the grade II Dixie, Sky Classic, and Knickerbocker, and yet still was 18-1 in this year’s Turf, with hardly anyone writing or saying a word about him. It’s time these two old warriors receive their due. These kind don’t come around very often.

The article then goes on to praise Giacomo!

I did catch up with Joe Deegan who mentioned Perfect Drift appeared to have some kind of lung infection coming out of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, hence his dull performance. This is explained here: Breathing problem sidelines Perfect Drift, likely out for Clark Handicap.

Here is the outcome of the White Horse Award for which Mike Rea was a finalist: Heroic assistant starter receives White Horse Award.

The Barbaro update should be getting closer to an earlier time this morning. It seems the rain has gone away, although I am sure the dirt track will be sealed and hard as a consequence of the weather.

Posted by Alex at 9:57 AM | Comments (612)
Barbaro Updates: 127
Posted November 8, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 1005: Just spoke to Peter, who had spoken with Michael. Another comfortable day for Barbaro.

Alie from Kennett Florist left this message (timestamp: 8:36pm):

Just got back from NBC and found out Barbaro is craving red apples lately 🙂 Everyone at NBC is in a great mood despite the nasty weather here. There was a photographer following Dr. Dean around today. Dr. Dean and the staff of NBC were pleased and amused by the fact that Barbaro got one write-in vote for congress here in Kennett Square. Diane who works here volunteers at the polls every year, and as a matter of public record, we found out first that Barbaro has one vote for congress!
Hope all is well with you.
take care,

Update 1004: The ratings are in for the Breeders’ Cup and the TV audience was at an all time low: Final Breeders’ Cup TV Ratings Slump 53%. While some of the decline can be attributed to a move to a cable network, I think it is safe to say a significant decline is due to the sport itself. The article suggests other ESPN media products may have also eroded the audience; sorry, I just don’t buy that one. If you have a TV, and an internet connection, you watch live racing on TV. I thought this quote from the article was simply odd within the context of a significant decline:

John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content said, “We are off to a very successful start in the first year of our partnership with the Breeders’ Cup. Our multi-media coverage allowed racing fans to follow all the Breeders’ Cup racing on numerous ESPN platforms. We gratified with the results and look forward to a many more years working with our Breeders’ cup partners.”

I would be very interested in what the first year goals were for the TV audience if this was a great start! Rather than be pleased with this, why not try to fix the product (horse racing as a form of entertainment) ?

Update 1003: Sue McMullen sent the following e-mail in response to Ramon Dominguez’s comments about his Breeders’ Cup rides (update 1001):

I was interested to read Ramon’s comments about the luckless Rob Roy missing the break and how he would have made (I think at the very least) second. I was gutted for the horse and was really rooting for him. Presumably Ramon knows Sir Michael asked the starter to allow the horse in the gate without an attendant, which was ignored and certainly caused him to miss the break. The presence of a man looming over him would seem odd to a horse who has never experienced it and Sir M was very unhappy. I guess it brought back memories of a similar situation at the gate with Zilzal back in (I think from memory) ’89 when the starters were pulling him around despite Walter Swinburn pleading with them to just leave him alone to settle for a minute. If ever a horse deserved to win a big one it is poor Rob Roy. It isn’t clear whether Sir M’s request on Saturday was ignored, declined or in the heat of the moment, simply overlooked. But it was very unfortunate nevertheless.

Unfortunately for Ramon, he was not aware of any gate instructions until after the race.

Update 1002: Another comfortable night last night for Barbaro (tuesday night). I just stopped by Michael Matz’s barn and Michael gave me the update.
update 10:20 am, wet wednesday november 8

Update 1001: It is a miserably wet day (although warm). So training has been pretty much limited to the shedrow, I will venture over to Michael Matz’s barn later this morning for the update.

In the meantime Ramon Dominguez called and I asked him about his Breeders’ Cup. He had three rides, two seconds and a fast closing fifth. Here are his remarks.

Friendly Island: second.
Ramon was not surprised he ran so well (finished second) as he was a Todd Pletcher-trained horse. He was very happy with the way he ran, the horse really tried hard to put in a great race. Each time Ramon asked for more the horse was able to give it to him. He was able to track around the inside most of the way. A very good result. (he paid $50 to place).

Rob Roy: fifth.
Rob Roy also ran very well. He completely miss the break, and broke very flat, this was very unfortunate. All his past performances suggested he needed to be closer to the pace. Despite this he came charging down the lane, he finished fifth, but was probably only beaten a half a length for second. It is likely the break cost him a second place finish.

Better Talk Now: second.
He ran an awesome race. He relaxed well early like he has been doing all year. He ran huge. He had an excellent trip, and coming down the lane he really dug in. Turning for home I did not think we had a chance to win. At the eighth pole I then thought we did have a chance to win. The other horse was able to pull out a little extra when we got close to him. It was a great race.

Overall I had a great day. That night I needed to get to bed early, the following morning drive to Cincinatti airport and fly back to ride at Delaware Park on sunday.

I asked Ramon if he had yet to ride on a synthetic track (Keeneland etc.) While he had not, he had heard nothing but good things about the surface from all those he had spoken to about the new tracks. No kickback, more consistent footing, keeping horses more sound etc.

Thanks Ramon for everything. A class guy, and second leading rider in the country!

Update 1000: A great NPR interview with Dr. Richardson: Barbaro’s Cast Removed; Recovery Continues.

I am sure the Barbaro update this morning will be delayed. Its raining pretty hard outside so I am anticipating a morning of shedrowing. If that is the case, I will stop by Michael Matz’s barn once they are done to get the update.

This Racing Post article by David Ashforth is very interesting in the wake of the Breeders’ Cup: Polytrack could be the way forward at future Cups (Thanks Sue McMullen for finding it). It mentions that Churchill Downs may be looking at Synthetic tracks. Here is an excerpt:

Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs, explained the racetrack’s position on Polytrack and other synthetic surfaces. He said: “Polytrack looks like a surface that is working out well.

We would like to see how it performs in a summer climate because we race here quite a lot during the hot summer months. We may get the chance when Hollywood Park races on Cushion Track next spring and summer.

“We also want to see how these synthetic surfaces react over time. Do the components sustain over a period of time? So we want to look for at least one year. If it is still performing as well as it seems to be at the moment, then we will give it very serious consideration. Safety is number one. If we can, we want better conditions for horses and riders. California may give us an indication of which way to go.”

Posted by Alex at 9:59 AM | Comments (551)
Barbaro Updates: 126
Posted November 7, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 999: I just spoke to Peter, who had heard from Michael, who visited Barbaro this afternoon. All remains well.

Michael’s take on the eclipse awards: Matz: Bernardini still deserves title. An excerpt:

“I’m obviously prejudiced, but I think it would probably be a little hard for them to give Barbaro champion 3-year-old and not Bernardini,” Matz said. “It’d be nice if they could be joint 3-year-old champions, but I don’t know if that could be possible and I don’t think you could give Bernardini nothing for campaigning all year. Bernardini campaigned all year. He was second to Invasor; it wasn’t like he ran a bad race.”

Update 998: Barbaro radiographs taken on November 7 (cast removal) are now online: Barbaro Photo Album

Update 997: A quick update on Mike Rea from his sister: FINALLY – AN UPDATE FROM CATHY. It appears he and Tammy were runners up for the White Horse Award, so congrats! It would be great to help push Mike’s Homemaker Petition: here is a hard copy, you can also sign online at the bottom of Mike’s site.

Update 996: I have been waiting to see if the sythetic track discussion would be accelerated by the tragic loss of Pine Island and injury of Fleet Indian. Andrew Beyer seems to think so: Breakdowns to Sharpen Surface Debate.

I hear they have packed down the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, I guess to get better times. I am really not sure why we are obsessed with times. When I was in england, I had no clue how fast races were being run!

Update 995: An article that illustrates how tough it is for Pine Island’s owners to have see her succumb to tragedy when their hopeful expections were to emulate other horses they have owned, and win another Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ tragedy hits Phipps hard. The article also connects Phipps to Michael Matz, I am guessing the horse they are referring to is Dancinginmydreams.

Update 994: Another comfortable night last night for Barbaro (monday night). I walked to the track with Michael Matz’s set while on my fourth horse. Michael had heard from Dr. Richardson. Michael also visited Barbaro last night after racing at Delaware. He was happy with how Barbaro was handling his new legware. There was certainly an upbeat mood as we walked to the track.

It was a lovely crisp morning again this morning at Fair Hill, with a crimson sunrise. Barclay Tagg is here, and seeing him, Michael and Graham Motion in the clocker’s stand makes you realise that perhaps Fair Hill is the place to be!
update 8:40 am, tuesday, november 7

Update 993: Pine Island was buried at her home in a quiet ceremony: Pine Island Buried Monday at Claiborne Farm.

A Japanese one-two finish in the Melbourne Cup: Delta Blues holds off stablemate to win Melbourne Cup. Sue McMullen sent this report:

You’ve really got to hand it to the Japanese. They keep bringing their horses out of Japan and taking on the best. With Deep Impact so unlucky in this year’s Arc and Heart’s Cry running a blinder in the King George at Ascot, they’ve now hit the jackpot with an incredible one-two at the Melbourne Cup, with Delta Blues first and Pop Rock second. Both horses are trained by the same man, Katsuhiko Sumii, and Delta’s jockey,Yasunari Iwata had never ridden before in Australia, which is another amazing feature of this victory.

It will come as little surprise that both horses carry the blood of the horse that put Japan on the racing map, whose untimely death rocked their bloodstock industry. Delta Blues is by Dance In The Dark, who is by the one and only Sunday Silence. And Pop Rock is out of Pops, a Sunday Silence mare. What a great tribute all these horses pay the great one himself.

This is a very important victory for Japan and will be celebrated for a long time. Yasunare Iwata had tears streaming down his face when he was led back and there would have been plenty more tears shed in Japan.

Yeats finished seventh, having missed the kick, but Kieren Fallon reported that having experienced the race for himself he realises they had the wrong horse for the Melbourne Cup as that type of race is run very differently to a European race. The best European finisher was Land’N’Stars who finished fifth, having showed his usual fighting spirit and a very proud trainer Jamie Poulton says he might return next year.

Posted by Alex at 9:58 AM | Comments (753)
Barbaro Updates: 125
Posted November 6, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 992: A couple of reports from the Breeders’ Cup. The first from Julia B (timestamp 11:25 pm) includes the following excerpt:

Guess who came up to me and asked about Barbaro – Lillian Prado – she just walked up to us on the way out of Churchill with her kids and liked our Barbaro sign – got to meet them and she showed me a picture of Barbaro kissing Edgar ! I was so excited ! I asked her for her autograph and she was tickled !! She is a beautiful lady and very kind !

The second from Debbie B. (timestamp: 12:19 pm) includes the following excerpt:

The races were a mixed bag of nuts. A lot of the favorites did not win and I bet them. The betting lines were crazy long. I was really hoping for a safe race for all, that was not to be. I was so happy for Ouija Board, Film Maker, Better Talk Now and Premium Tap. Most especially to Round Pond!! I wish that Berni had a better ride. I wonder if Alex is correct about the ride he got, what a shame if so. He was so great to watch in action. Invasor is incredible, they both looked amazing. I was very happy that George did not have a bad race. Glad to see that Giacomo is retiring, wish that Perfect Drift was going to be as well.

For me, I had a lot of fun meeting quite a few “Fans of Barbaro”.

Update 991: New Bolton’s update on today’s cast: Barbaro’s cast removed today:

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s right hind leg cast was removed today, according to his medical team. “Barbaro was placed under general anesthesia for the cast removal,” said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. “In addition, his foot was trimmed and a new shoe glued on. A padded bandage with plastic and fiberglass splints was placed on his lower limb for support.”

Barbaro’s lower right hind leg had been in a cast since surgery at Penn’s George D. Widener Hospital following his accident at the Preakness on May 20. “He had a perfect pool recovery and immediately stood; he walked easily back to his stall,” said Dr. Richardson. “He used all of his legs quite well.”

Barbaro’s left hind foot, which had laminitis, was also fully evaluated while he was under anesthesia. “There are no signs of new problems with that foot, but the hoof needs several more months of growth before we will know how much foot structure and function will be recovered,” said Dr. Richardson.

The next update will be posted on Tuesday, November 14, unless there is a significant change in Barbaro’s condition.

Update 990: I just spoke to Mrs. Jackson. She told me that Barbaro had his cast replaced today (I did not ask what with) and all was well with the process (pool recovery etc.) She was pretty upbeat about it. I assume more details will be forthcoming in the New Bolton release tomorrow!

Update 989: Sue McMullen sent this e-mail that previews the European and Japanese runners for tuesday’s running of the Melbourne Cup:

First run in 1861, the two mile Group 1 Melbourne Cup, at Flemington Park, is an institution in Australia and a national holiday. Here’s a brief word on some of the European and Japanese challengers.

It will be a very emotional victory for Coolmore if Yeats wins the race that ‘stops a nation’, not only because of their disappointing performance at the Breeders’ Cup, but due to Kieren Fallon’s ongoing problems. Currently banned from riding in the UK and France, awaiting trial for alleged race fixing, Fallon told The Times newspaper that if his trial is not resolved by the start of next year’s Flat season, he will have no choice but to retire as Ballydoyle will be forced to replace him as senior jockey. Without that job, giving him access to top horses in all the top races, he would be confined to riding in Ireland and that just isn’t enough for a man who has ridden at the top level in the UK and around the world. Fallon opted not to apply for a licence to ride at the BC and headed straight for Australia where he has been helping to prepare Yeats for tomorrow’s mission, an unusal situation for a jockey as they usually fly in very close to the race. Yeats is reported to be in good form and Fallon is keeping quiet about how he will ride the race, whether to be up with the pace or ride for a closing finish. Some believe Yeats is a stayer and too slow for the Melbourne Cup but Fallon insists that as a Group 1 winner over a mile and half, he has both speed and stamina. He is regarded as Europe’s best hope in the race.

Geordieland will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, bubbling with confidence after his BC double and trainer Jamie Osborne is hopeful of a big run from the five-year-old. Another British contender Glistening, trained by Luca Cumani, has been given the worst draw in the race, 24 of 24, but is in good form.

Despite finishing last in the Caulfield Cup, Jamie Poulton says Land’N’Stars should do better over the longer trip and wider track and that Caulfield came a bit soon after his trip to Australia. Locals have dismissed him as a complete outsider but Poulton says his horse loves a fight and if it becomes a test of stamina he will give a good account of himself.

The two Japanese contenders Pop Rock and Delta Blues are reported to be in good form but the latter’s jockey, Yasunari Iwata, has never ridden in Australia and that would be a concern for punters. Pop Rock attempts the trip for the first time but was staying on well at Caulfield, which suggests this distance won’t inconvenience him. David Hayes, trainer of Caulfield Cup winner Tawqeet, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, says he wouldn’t swop him for anything else in the race. Efficient attempts to become the first three year-old to win since 1941 and on just his seventh run.

Here is additional coverage from the Sportinglife:
AUSSIES FEAR YEATS, and the final list of the twenty four runners: Final field with barriers for 2006 Emirates Melbourne Cup.

I went to the Melbourne Cup a few years ago when Makybe Diva won her first cup. It was a fantastic day of racing. The race has a deep traditional, and is known as the ‘race that stops a nation’ as everyone in Australia pays attention and enjoys the festivities and has a bet. I think the same can be pretty much said for those in New Zealand too!

The US has yet to send a horse over to compete in this race. A few possible reasons … two miles is very long for US horses, the potential to receive a high handicap weight, and the logistics of being there so close after the Breeders’ Cup (i.e. if you have a good horse, you will need to forgo a run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf). Better Talk Now was being seriously considered for this race. Ultimately they decided not to go, and run a race in Canada and then the Breeders’ Cup Turf instead. That decision is looking very good now.

Update 988: Sue McMullen sent this report of the European runners in the Breeders’ Cup and some additional European perspective:

What can one say about Ouija Board? Following her second victory in the Filly and Mare, she is reported to have come out of the race very well, ate up on Saturday night and now heads for Japan. As stated here last week, her wellbeing is of paramount importance and although they plan to retire her after Hong Kong in December, they will take it a day at a time. It might be worth a brief mention that her immensely proud owner Lord Derby is a class act and not because of his title. It takes more than that nowadays to earn respect and ‘Teddy’ as he is known to his friends is held in huge regard by the media here. Some owners of top horses hog the limelight, as if they are the ones up before dawn, mucking out, grooming, exercising and training the horse. But Lord Derby has continually stood apart, praising the efforts of the team at Ed Dunlop’s and most of all, his cherished mare who he is so proud to have followed around the world, always in her shadow and sharing her victories with her many fans.

Turf hero Red Rocks will head to Dubai for the Sheema Classic in March and another prime target for next year will be to defend his title at the BC. Hurricane Run’s performance underlined concerns that Churchill wouldn’t suit him as jockey Christophe Soumillon reported the horse struggled to keep himself balanced on the turns. A tall horse, Hurricane needs long stretches to show his best, but it is also possible he is now over the top as he has struggled to regain winning form after his King George victory at Ascot, although it is also true that he has been unlucky at times.

The Mile was a disaster for the Euro camp. Favourite Araafa ran no race at all and felt flat according to John Valazquez. The real hard luck story of the race was poor Rob Roy, who has been dogged with back luck all year. Despite missing the break, Rob Roy was a fast finishing fifth, from dead last turning into the stretch. A frustrated Sir Michael Stoute blamed the poor start on the presence of an attendant in the gate. Our horses are not used to this and Sir Michael had personally requested that the horse be left alone. The Ballydoyle horses failed to show their best and the Godolphin pair were very disappointing.

Juvenile filly Satulagi appeared to hate the kickback and ran flat. She’s had a hard season but it’s probably also fair to say she was punching above her weight in that company.

Ballydoyle reported satisfaction with George’s sixth in the Classic, on a surface that was totally new to him. It is testimony to his aggressive approach to racing that he tried his best on what must have felt so alien underfoot. He showed his customary reluctance to load into the gate, but it was a shame to see him dragged by the ear. David Junior finished stiff and sore from the race, in which he didn’t show his usual zeal and now heads to stud in Japan. A great 1-2 for the Maktoum family, who are as much a part of our racing scene here as Newmarket itself, but they have apparently been subject to criticism by one leading US racewriter complaining they just buy everything and could ruin the sport. We heard similar views here years ago but they are now integral to our racing and it’s worth making a couple of points. They have pioneered keeping horses in training when the custom for many years was to whisk top horses off to stud as quickly as possible. They are great sportsmen and never shirk a challenge and whilst they sometimes try to buy the best, they are sometimes turned down. Money doesn’t always buy everything. Plus this year we have seen many ‘small’ owners winning top prizes and Godolphin hasn’t done so well. Racing is cyclical, that’s the beauty of it and I’m sure the Maktoums presence in the US will enhance the sport, not detract from it. But they certainly don’t need me to defend them.

Having said they keep horses in training it is therefore surprising that having run second in the Classic, Bernadini is set to retire. This is a great pity as it would have been wonderful to see him next year. He didn’t have the best run of the race and was possibly unlucky but you can’t take anything away from Invasor and, at risk of sounding like the Maktoum PR officer, Sheikh Hamdam is a kind, gentle individual who has done so much for the sport.

Another memorable Breeders’ Cup but marred by the tragic death of Pine Island. Let us hope this will add fuel to the gathering momentum for track changes in the US. Aside from the unkind nature of this surface, we were of the opinion here that there was a track bias, which favoured the rail, and there are surely questions to be answered.

Update 987: Another comfortable night for Barbaro last night (sunday night). I saw Michael Matz as I was going to the track on my third set. A beautiful, crisp morning this morning here at Fair Hill. The moon provided a nice source of light for the first set at quarter of six. Right now I am walking back from the track on my third set, a horse I just broke from the gate to get his gate card.

Michael returned from Kentucky yesterday and visited Barbaro in the evening. He was happy with how Bobby was doing.

Round Pond has also returned from Kentucky and Michael said that as soon as the sun is up, she’ll be turned out in the paddock.
(monday November 6th 7:20am)

Update 986: The Barbaro update this morning may come at anytime. I say this because I think Michael Matz flew back from the Breeders’ Cup yesterday, so is likely going to be in Fair Hill this morning. I would not anticipate it coming too early though.

For extensive Breeders’ Cup coverage you can visit one of the big three online racing media:

Daily Racing Form
Thoroughbred Times

I am also hoping to hear from Sue McMullen sometime today for a review of the European runners, as well as a preview for the Melbourne Cup (Tawqeet Favored to Win Melbourne Cup Ahead of Northern Raiders and Foreigners hoping to steal Melbourne Cup), which is tomorrow (or actually later today I guess).

Posted by Alex at 10:16 AM | Comments (574)
Barbaro Updates: 124
Posted November 5, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 985: jfrank17 has posted a lovely Tribute to Pine Island.

Alie, from Kennett Florist left this comment (timestamp: 12:12 am):

It was a great day in Kennett Square. We just got home from Erin’s fundraiser. And I am happy to report. Thanks to help from many of you. We raise 19,568.00 for Erin & her family, today. We are all beat. But it was worth it. Thank you all so much. Anne & Terry are beyond words.
Also Rach received a call from her doctor at the benefit. She is now in the hospital. No measurable trace of iron in her blood. She is getting a transfusion. I will keep you up to date.
Good night & God Bless.
P.S. Peg thanks for driving down to help us. Hope you got home safely.

I am now home. Thank you again!

Update 984: Peter Brette visited Barbaro this afternoon. Dean Richardson had already taken him out for his pick of grass so Peter just groomed him and changed his bandages. Another upbeat report. As we heard from the press coverage late last week, they are planning to replace Barbaro’s cast likely early this coming week.

I’m on my way back home from the Philadelphia airport. Thankfully, US Air honored my November 6th ticket for November 5th…apparently I had booked the wrong date and was oblivious to this until I’d arrived at the airport!

Update 983: Another comfortable night for Barbaro last night (saturday). I just spoke to Peter Brette who had heard from Michael Matz. Peter may be visiting Bobby later today so I’ll try to catch up with him after I land in Philadelphia.

I went over to the backside this morning to check on the Fair Hill contingent (Round Pond, Better Talk Now, and Film Maker). All three looked very relaxed in their respective stalls, munching on hay from their hay nets hung by their doors. I hung out with Raphael who works for Graham Motion for a few minutes. So all looks well after their great performances yesterday.

I do think this might have been Film Maker’s last race. Her Breeders Cup record of two seconds and a third is outstanding. It’s just unfortunate for her that she ran in the era of Ouija Board. I think it’s fair to say that Ouija Board is the best mare to have raced in many, many years. Good luck to her in her final starts this year in Asia.

I’m now in the airport waiting to come home. (sunday 11:45am).

Update 982: The morning after the Breeders’ Cup. I am planning to go to the backside and try to catch up with the Fair Hill horses. Last night I caught up with Steve Willard and hung out with Giacomo, who is now retired to stud. He looked great after the race, not a care in the world. I also watched Premium Tap getting his bath after his race. I asked his connections about his tongue habit. Apparently he carries his tongue out all the time! I also saw Invasor and Bernardini cooling out. This morning Calvin Borel, who won on Street Sense, was first out galloping at six this morning. I guess after winning one of your biggest races, its work as usual the next day for Calvin.

It was a great day of racing yesterday, and of course Fair Hill really showed itself well on the national stage. Pine Island’s tragic accident is a stark reminder racing in this country has a long way to go in terms of investing in horse safety, to become an attractive sport. As a horseman, you can never get used to seeing a horse lose its life doing what it is doing.

I will try to get a Barbaro update later this morning before I fly out.

Posted by Alex at 1:46 PM | Comments (391)
Barbaro Updates: 123
Posted November 4, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 981: We are operating on the assumption, as always, that no news is good news. Alex didn’t get a Barbaro update this evening…understandably with the Breeders Cup today but likely all is well. Alex will have lots more news regarding his day at the races when he gets back tomorrow.

Update 980: A great win in the Breeders Cup Classic by Invasor. However, I was severely disappointed with the ride Bernardini got. It looked like Castellano panicked and he went too soon. It’s a shame if this is Bernardini’s last race…going out on what appeared to be nothing more than a jockey error.

I just walked over to the backside with Invasor and am stood outside the receiving barn. I saw and congratulated Lord Derby on his nice win today (Ouija Board). I also saw John Sherrifs and congatulated him on Giacomo’s nice fourth. A great day of racing that was tragically marred by Pine Island’s fate. I am very grateful to everybody who made this possible for me. Thank you.

Update 979: Better Talk Now, clearly the most underrated horse in North America, showed that he is the real deal just getting beaten by Red Rocks. Another great ride from Ramon Dominguez who must have thought he had the race won at the quarter pole but Red Rocks is the real deal too. Just stood at the paddock waiting for Bernardini and those who wish to challenge him.

Update 978: A brilliant win by Round Pond but obviously, hearts go out to Pine Island and all her connections.

Update 977: A great ride by Ramon Dominguez second in the Sprint on Friendly Island, his first ride on the horse. Clearly no one was going to beat the winner but a nice result for Ramon.

Update 976: Great tickets at the Breeders Cup! Just been screaming and hollaring Ouija Board and Film Maker down the lane. It’s a shame one of them had to beat the other…two world class mares. Maybe I can start to forgive Frankie for his terrible ride on Swane.

Update 975: Another comfortable night last night for Barbaro (friday night). I spoke with Peter Brette who had heard from Michael Matz this morning.
I am just now walking into Churchill Downs for the Breeders Cup. Absolutely gorgeous day- a little crisp but excellent horse racing weather. Anticipating probably the best day of racing I have witnessed since Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer in the 1988 Breeders Cup Classic. I am psyched ! (saturday 11:45am)

Update 974: A short article with a nice picture of Redaspen’s win last night in the Navajo Princess Stake. She cooled out well and went home for a few days to her farm.

Posted by Alex at 1:35 PM | Comments (858)
Barbaro Updates: 122
Posted November 3, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 973: Tim’s horse Redaspen won a nice stake race last night at the Meadowlands. Congrats Tim! Barbaro update will be later today as has been routine lately.

Update 972: Peter Brette visited barbaro today (friday) and all remains well. An upbeat report.
I just arrived in Louisville, KY and am waiting for my host, Bob, to come pick me up at the airport. Really looking forward to tomorrow. (friday 6:10pm)

Update 971: Another comfortable night for Barbaro last night (Thursday night). I just spoke to Peter Brette. Peter may visit Barbaro later today so I’ll try to catch up with him again for another update.
friday 12:55pm

Update 970: Just caught up with Doug O’Neill, trainer of Lava Man. I asked him:

Me: Why did you come to Kentucky early and your thoughts on the Polytrack at Keeneland and how Lava Man is doing:
Doug: I wanted to get the plane ride out of the way. I wanted to get Lava Man settled. He had trained in California on the Cushion Track and he was happy training on that surface so it made sense to train on the Polytrack. He worked really well over it. Lava Man could not be doing any better right now. His typical training routine is to jog a mile and gallop about a mile and a half.

Me: Thoughts on the Classic:
Doug: Many people are calling it a two horse race, but I think it is wide open. Lawyer Ron has a huge chance. The turf miler from europe (George Washington) scares me, this is a much deeper field that people give credit.

Me: What is it like to train a horse like Lava Man?
Doug: Its great being around a champion. He does something special all the time, every time you lead him over there. Everyone wishes they would have a horse like this.

Me: On Barbaro
Doug: It was obviously very unfortunate, but Barbaro has really brought a lot of good to the sport. Many people now looking at racing can see we are caring people, and technology has really moved forward.

Me: Thanks
Doug: Say high to Andy for me.

Note Andy Durnin provided me Doug’s cell phone number (and Steve Willard’s, Gary Steven’s etc. etc.).

Update 969: Eight horses ridden. Now waiting for the shuttle to the airport, flight to Pittsburg and then on to Louisville, to arrive about 6 pm.

Sue McMullen sent this e-mail:

It would be unfair to omit French filly Germance (Christophe Soumillon) who slipped under the radar for my preview of Euro runners as she was already in the US, having shipped from Keeneland after her fourth to Vacare in the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup. Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget the Silver Hawk filly is very good, winning five of her starts this year including a Group 1 at Longchamp but she will need to improve to get past an in-form Ouija. Reports on the latter are bullish as she is doing very well at Churchill but they have taken each race at a time with her waiting for her to show that she’s had enough of a long season shuttling around the world and some hard battles. Trainer Ed Dunlop this week told journalists who expressed these fears that she is “no ordinary horse.”

A final word on our ‘Gorgeous George’, Aiden O’Brien this week told journalists at a press conference that they believe they have absolutely nothing to lose going for the Classic as they would have expected George to win the Mile. With the absence of Barbaro it would be wonderful if George can overcome everything and reproduce his talent on the dirt and able to take on Bernadini. What a race that could be.

Update 968: Lots of articles, in no particular order.

Racing: Shadow of Barbaro stalks Bernardini’s march to greatness
Meaningful win for Matz, Prado
Bernardini awaiting his biggest challenge
Bernardini Still In Barbaro’s Shadow
Matz’s return trip already a winner
A dark day Matz can’t forget
Michael Matz wishes Barbaro could be here

I may have one more short interview before I leave for the Breeders’ Cup. The Barbaro update will be later this morning – early after, and I will continue to post Barbaro updates as I have them while in Kentucky.

Posted by Alex at 9:31 AM | Comments (521)
Barbaro Updates: 121
Posted November 2, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 967: Just spoke to Peter Brette. He was busy in the barn today, so was unable to visit Barbaro. Sue Danner visited in his place. While Peter had not heard, he had just spoken to Michael so assumes all is well. They just had a nice stakes winner at Churchill, which Peter was pretty psyched about. Sangarita, a really nice filly. Oddly enough my Breeders’ Cup host had $50 on her to win!

I asked Peter about Round Pond’s chances on saturday. He reported that they are really happy with the way she is doing. The draw (close to the inside) is not ideal, but Peter says she should make a very strong showing. Peter’s Breeders’ Cup Classic pick: Bernardini, although he has heard they do really like George Washington (Aiden O’Brien’s crew).

Update 966: I just spoke to Lisa Davison. Both Better Talk Now and Film Maker galloped about a mile and five-eighths / a mile and three quarters today. She said that while the turf was soft (they were off the turf this afternoon at the races) she thinks it may dry to good by race day. Both horses went well and she says that neither could be doing any better right now. Both will likely have the same training routine tomorrow.

Lisa said she saw Bernardini, Ouija Board and Lava Man on the track today. They all looked great. I asked Lisa for her Classic pick: Bernardini (who knew ?) She likes Invasor as a possible upset.

I had e-mailed Michael Dickinson on another matter (track surfaces) and asked for his Classic pick: Bernardini!

Update 965: A new update from new Bolton: Barbaro’s cast may be removed soon which confirms reports we heard from the press this morning:

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s right hind leg cast may be removed soon, according to his medical team at the George D. Widener Hospital at New Bolton Center. “Barbaro had radiographs taken through his fiberglass cast on November 1,” said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery. “The healing appears substantial enough that we plan to remove his cast and replace it with a splinted bandage some time next week.” Barbaro has been in a cast since surgery at the hospital following his accident at the Preakness on May 20.

“We’ll decide whether to remove the cast while Barbaro is under general anesthesia, after we evaluate additional radiographs,” said Dr. Richardson. “If we change the cast, it will be done under general anesthesia, followed by another pool recovery.”

The next update will be posted on Tuesday, November 7, unless there is a significant change in Barbaro’s condition.

Update 964: I just caught up with Gary Stevens who many would regard as one of the best jockeys in North America over the last twenty years. He also rode for a short while in Europe. Here are Gary’s thoughts on synthetic tracks, Barbaro and the Breeders’ Cup.

On synthetic racetracks:
This may be the saviour to racing here in America given what we have seen in the brief introduction we have had so far from meets at Turfway Park, Keeneland and now beginning at Hollywood Park. It seems to show that speed is not as important as stamina, and our over focus on speed has not been good for racing. More of a focus on stamina has to be a good thing.

On Barbaro:
The story is still heartbreaking. My hat goes off to his owners, the vets, Michael Matz and his staff, everyone around this horse. It is very unfortunate to happen to any horse, but to happen to Barbaro, on the national stage, it was awful. This year we have had two exceptional horses (Barbaro and Bernardini), I would love to have seen them face each other in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It would simply have been a great rivalry, and great for our sport. I couldn’t pick one over the other. The performance of Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby was as good as a performance as I have ever seen.

Biggest Breeders’ Cup Moment:
First win aboard In the Wings in 1990

Breeders’ Cup Classic Pick:

Update 963: I just caught up with Steve Willard (Giacomo) and Joe Deegan (Perfect Drift).

Steve: Giacomo is in terrific form. He went to the shute today, jogged around for a while. When on the track he jogged to the 3/4 pole, turned in and stood. He then galloped a mile and three quarters. Steve is extremely happy with the way he is doing. Giacomo was taking a nice hold, pulling Steve without being out of control. Likely his training will be similar tomorrow.

Joe: Perfect Drift is also in good form. Joe let him stretch his legs a little, not quite at an open gallop. This afternoon he is coming over to Churchill Downs to “paddock school” (he is based at the Sports Spectrum, which is close to Churchill). He will train at the Sports Spectrum tomorrow and then ship to Churchill after training. Joe figures Perfect Drift is ready for a big effort.

Me: The race will have plenty of speed up front (Brother Derek, Suave, with Bernardini within 3 – 4 lengths). This sets up well for both these horses, Giacomo and Perfect Drift. I want to thank Steve and Joe for their pre-Breeders’ Cup insights. I will follow up with both post Breeders’ Cup with their thoughts on the big race.

Update 962: Barbaro has been nominated for Performance of the Year award by I am sure Barbaro would appreciate your vote!

Update 961: A quick review of the awards dinner last night for “Team Barbaro”: Team Barbaro, Richardson, Crist Honored at NTWA Dinner. The following is an excerpt:

Upon accepting the award, Roy Jackson joked that Barbaro had asked him to make some remarks on his behalf. “He wants to first honor you men and women of the press for your honest and straightforward reporting of this whole event. You’ve done a great service to the racing industry,” Jackson said, citing the subjects of laminitis and the anti-slaughter bill.

“Barbaro also wants to thank the multitude of people that sent notes, carrots, you name it,” he continued. “Lastly, he wanted to thank Dean Richardson and the whole staff at New Bolton for the care they’ve given him.”

Update 960: Another comfortable night last night (wednesday night) for Barbaro. I just spoke to Peter Brette, who had heard from Michael.

Ramon Dominguez just called from Kentucky. This morning he rode Rob Roy for the first time, one of his three mounts for saturday. He galloped him on the turf and let him blow out 3/8ths of a mile. He was very happy with him, he went very easily, he was relaxed and then eager when asked. Ramon did note the turf was pretty soft and likely by saturday the turf will be soft, or good at best. This is not really drying weather. This type of turf should suite both Rob Roy and Better Talk Now. Ramon met Sir Michael Stoute for the first time today (Rob Roy’s trainer).

Ramon did not ride Better Talk Now today, but is looking forward to a good ride on saturday (While Ramon has ridden Better Talk Now many times in races, Lisa always gallops him etc). He should like the distance, the ground and hopefully will get an eager pace up front. If that happens he has to have a chance. He is never given the respect he deserves, and has won this race before.

Ramon also did not ride Friendly Island, and has not partnered this horse, so saturday will be the first time. Ramon is used to riding horses for the first time in big races. As long as he handicap’s the race well, that is usually all the preparation a top jockey needs.

I asked Ramon what it was like to ride on the biggest day of racing. He said that he tries to keep things normal. He obviously gets a little “pumped up” but that is a good thing. It is important for a jockey to deal with any pressure well, because if they don’t it can directly effect the horses he is riding. Ramon said on saturday morning he will go to the barn area and meet with the trainers of his horses. He will discuss tactics then so as not to leave everything to the last minute in the paddock. In the meantime, Ramon is flying to New York to ride Aqueduct’s friday card.

Posted by Alex at 4:30 PM | Comments (436)
Barbaro Updates: 120
Posted November 1, 2006

updates are now here.

Update 959: No update yet this morning (as has been typical this week) but news last night from the awards dinner suggests they are contemplating removing Barbaro’s cast and replacing it with a splint: Barbaro’s vet says cast on injured leg could come off next week, excerpt:

Dr. Dean Richardson said Wednesday night that Barbaro has been walking so well lately, that “we’re probably going to be removing the cast next week.”

The cast would be replaced by a splinted bandage. The 3-year-old colt’s left hind foot continues to grow back after 80% of the hoof was removed when laminitis struck in mid-July.

“He still does not have a normal left hind foot,” Richardson said. “He still needs a normal hind foot before he can live a normal life as a horse. He still has a long way to go.”

I caught up with Barclay Tagg briefly. Showing Up is preparing for the Hollywood Derby (November 26) and NoBiz for the Remsen (November 25). Both are doing well. Funny Cide is having a couple of months off, and will be brought back to the races in the winter. I asked Barclay for his Breeders’ Cup Classic prediction, no question, Bernardini!

Update 958: The Barbaro update will again be later this morning.

Tragedy has struck during preparations for the Melbourne Cup (tuesday, televised on HRTV), Sue McMullen sent this e-mail:

A sad reminder that we are never far from tradedy with our racehorses. Tragedy has struck the Melbourne Cup, following news that UK trainer David Elsworth’s contender Wunderwood had to be euthanised ater a training incident in which he sustained multiple fractures to his pastern during a warm up for a gallop at Mornington racececourse. Initially it was thought he’d merely pulled off a shoe but it soon became apparent that the damage was much worse and they had little choice but to end his suffering as he was in a lot of pain.

A distraught David Elseworth told “It’s the worst kind of thing that can happen. We live with these horses and we get very close to them. It’s upsetting and it’s like losing a friend or a member of the family.”

The new synthetic track at Hollywood Park was tested for the first time under racing conditions yesterday: Cushion Track Praised as Hollywood Opens, and looks to have been well received. The following is an excerpt:

Trainer Richard Mandella has 32 stalls at Hollywood and is having to keep part of his large stable at Santa Anita. He said that not only does he like the new surface, he feels it is keeping jockeys from rushing horses early.

“It’s obvious you don’t want to let them go running off the first quarter for no good reason,” Mandella said. “We’ve been doing that in California for too long, and it makes for boring racing and injury to the horses. I think that in itself is going to be a safety factor. Letting them get their legs under them and then get going, I think, is going to make for safer, more exciting racing.”

Obviously Richard Mandella’s words are high praise indeed for this type of racing surface. While I have never raced on dirt, I have breezed many horses on it, and been on the losing end of many breezes. Having the dirt hit you in the face is really unpleasant, so I can see how jockeys will gladly change their racing tactics without the kickback.

Update 957: Sue McMullen provides this update on the european contingent for the Breeders’ Cup:

A mixed reaction from the European camp following the post draw, but most of the major contenders have fared well, including Ouija Board (Frankie Dettori) who drew 2 in the Fillies and Mares. However, it is not the draw that is the worry now but the weather and trainer Ed Dunlop will be watching the skies over Churchill with some trepidation following today’s rain and wintry conditions. While the mare will act on yielding going (she won at Lone Star on ground that was less than ideal for her) she does prefer fast ground so it is a concern. In contrast, her European opponent in the race, the French filly Satwa Queen (Thierry Thulliez), drew 9 and will relish the ground. In her most recent outing she ran second to useful filly Mandesha in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp and she is also fresh having been lightly raced this year, in contrast to Ouija Board who has had a hard season. But even Satwa Queen’s trainer Jeande Roualle acknowledges she is an outsider and unlikely to beat an in-form Ouija, who is a champion mare and he would be happy to finish second to her. Whether or not Ouija is beginning to feel the effects of a long season we will find out on Saturday.

Gorgeous George drew 4 for the Classic and goes eyeball to eyeball with Bernadini who drew 3, so he’s got one heck of a pacemaker to aim for when he closes. Aiden O’Brien is sticking to the party line and insisting that if George can overcome just about every obstacle under the sun, he has the ability to pull it off as he is such a gifted horse. We all know how gifted he is but we also know that the nearest Danehills’ get to dirt is crossing the track to reach the turf, but George won’t know this and we’re all hoping there’s a first time. Most important of all, we want him back in one piece and after that, we don’t want him to suffer the same humiliation as Dylan Thomas who just couldn’t handle the dirt and trailed in last. This would be a sad end to the career of such an imperious individual and ironically, on a track that many in the US would like to see replaced.

David Junior (Jamie Spencer) drew 7 in the Classic and following the change in weather, trainer Brian Meehan is fatalistic about the going conditions for both him and his Turf runner Red Rocks (Frankie Dettori).Trainers can do a great deal to prepare a horse, but they can’t do anything about the weather. David Junior has been schooling at home to help him break well from the gate, which is critical for this race, and they’ve even used a bell to get him used to the sound. Everything has gone according to plan for him since his arrival and it remains to be seen if his long layoff (not run since July) was inspired. He has little experience of dirt but he has it in his pedigree, which Brian Meehan has probably told him as part of his meticulous preparation. Red Rocks, from 9 in the Turf, should be fine on easier ground and he might be taken around the bends prior to the race to familiarise him.

The draw for the Turf is not quite so critical but Hurricane Run (Christophe Soumillon) nevertheless shortened in the betting when he drew 7 and Ballydoyle’s Scorpion (Mick Kinane) is in 4.

Stan Moore’s Juvenile Filly Satulagi (John Egan) drew 11, which isn’t the best position but he remains hopeful as she is tough and experienced. She twice finished four lengths off two of Europe’s best fillies this year so is some way short of that level, but she has credible form. Expect to see her ridden from off the pace and although she won’t be the first out of the gate the hope is that she will still be there battling down the stretch when those in front are fading. There had been some concern about her wellbeing, as although she travelled and settled in well, she hadn’t eaten up properly which is always a concern with horses but once on the track she seemed happier and is reported to be in good form. She will school in the gate tomorrow and do a bit of gentle exercise on Friday, with friends of the trainer doing their utmost to prevent him wrapping her in vast sheets of cottonwool. The nerves are mounting now for his first runner in the BC.

Europe’s number one hope in the Mile, Araafa, was shortened here in the betting following news that he’d drawn 3, a good position and one favoured by his jockey John Valazquez who tried to get the ride on him when he found out just how good he is. His only concern is whether Araafa will handle the tight turns. Araafa has had to play bridesmaid to George and in any other season would have been a very worthy winner of two Guineas and a Champion Stakes, but he had the misfortune to contest his Classic season with the Gorgeous one and only beat him when George was injured in the Irish Guineas. But he is an extremely good horse, the best of the Europeans in this race, which according to Valazquez makes him the best horse in the race, so with luck in running he will take all the beating.

The Ballydoyle runners in the Mile haven’t fared quite so well, with Ivan Denisovitch (Mike Kinane) not even getting in due to Super Frolic defecting from the Classic to the Mile and Aussie Rules (Garret Gomez) drawn out in the parking lot at 14. But Ad Valorem (Jamie Spencer) is on the rail having drawn 1. Godolphin expressed satisfaction with 9 for Echo of Light (Frankie Dettori) but were disappointed that Librettist (Christophe Soumillon) is out at 13. Sir Michael Stoute’s Rob Roy is at 9 and there will hopefully be news of him when Alex speaks to Ramon Dominguez. Rob Roy has been dogged with bad luck but ran a very big second to George in the Champion Stakes. John Gosden’s Sleeping Indian (Alex Solis) is at number 4 and faces a very tough task in this field.

The Ballydoyle runners all arrived safely and are currently in isolation awaiting the results of blood tests, which is the normal procedure.

If anything significant occurs with the Euro runners between now and Saturday, I will update, but all being well, all go to post. The Breeders’ Cup is always a rollercoaster of emotions, so highly charged it just grabs you by the throat from the minute it starts and there is nothing quite like it. On a personal note I am already a bag of nerves in anticipation. I wish everybody the very best of luck and most important, that every horse returns safe and sound.

A quick note from Jeannine Edwards, Hurricane Run looked really fantastic galloping in the slop this morning… floated over the track with great energy.

Update 956: I just spoke to Peter Brette who visited Barbaro this (wednesday) afternoon. He took Barbaro out to graze, groomed him and changed his bandages. Another upbeat report.

Update 955: Another Breeders’ Cup inspired Barbaro article: Barbaro’s influence won’t go away. Some of the quotes are familiar. Michael does comment on Bernardini:

Matz will watch the Classic too, wondering what a race between Barbaro and Preakness winner Bernardini would have been like.

“You think about it, but it will never happen, so …” he said. “It’s sort of a shame that rivalry never took place, because I think it would have been a good one. I just think that after Bernardini got real good, there was really no one that could challenge him. Whether these older horses now can do that, we’ll see on Saturday. I think he’s a wonderful horse.”

Barbaro will be in his intensive care stall in Pennsylvania, where get-well cards still arrive.

Bernie, from Kennett Florist left this comment (timestamp: 8:40 pm):

Hi everyone! I got back from NBC and everyone there was happy! I saw Dr. R. and he looked relaxed and happy. Barbaro is doing very well and everyone is upbeat.
A word on Rachel- she stopped in today briefly. everything is a little better and she plans to come back to work tomorrow, at least part time (we may kick her out early). Love to you all!

Update 954: The ESPN piece on Barbaro (Outside The Lines) was terrific. Hopefully it will appear on the internet.

History is being made today in California, as the Hollywood Park meet opens: New surface attracts Eastern trainers. Lets hope the positive introduction at Keeneland is emulated in California.

Update 953: I caught up with Joe Deegan (Perfect Drift), Steve Willard (Giacomo) and Lisa Davison (Film Maker and Better Talk Now).

Joe Deegan: Perfect Drift continues to train well, it seems they could not be happier with him at this point. He galloped today, and will likely do the same again tomorrow. The track was not great (due to lots of rain) but other than that, no problems. Its possible he may gallop a little stronger tomorrow, but it is something they will decide before training tomorrow. His post draw of 6 is good. It will allow his jockey to see the early part of the race while then settling Perfect Drift.

Steve Willard: Giacomo was full of himself this morning, bucking and playing. As a horse went by him he thought it was time to go, he galloped strong the first part of his gallop, then settled down. An easy day for him, jogging a half a mile and galloping an easy mile. This afternoon he “paddock schooled”, he went over for the second race and walked around the paddock with the runners. He was nice and relaxed.

Lisa Davison: Both horses (Better Talk Now and Film Maker) trained well this morning, on the turf, which Lisa rated as good-to-soft. While rain has been hitting Churchill it is supposed to clear out later today. That being said the turf is probably not likely to dry out too quickly / much. Some give in the ground may suite both horses. Anyway, both Film Maker and Better Talk Now are doing well. Lisa also noted Graham (Motion) is now in Kentucky.

Update 952: The fields have been drawn for the Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup: The Fields

Update 951: Another comfortable night last night for Barbaro (tuesday night). I just spoke to Peter who had heard from Michael.

Given the pending Breeders’ Cup there seems to be an uptick in the media coverage of Barbaro. This one is excellent: Remarkable Barbaro still beating the odds. A must read, here is a small excerpt:

Earlier in his career, Prado had ridden regularly at Pimlico. As at most racetracks, everyone gets to know everyone, and Prado knew Dreyfuss.

“He was saying to me, ‘Doctor, please save him. Do what you can, please save him,'” Dreyfuss recalled.