Barbaro Updates: 283
updates are now here.
Update 1913: Another cool afternoon hanging out with Mike Rea at Freedom Hills. We went on another trail ride and it was just a beautiful day to do that. We just have to remember the neck strap next time (it helps Mike's center of balance when he is jogging). Very cool. Mike's tip for the Preakness ... Hard Spun, although he did used to work for Carl Nafzger, many years ago, many many, as a freelance exercise rider.
Dr. Richardson was among the honorees at Pimlico this morning: Tribute Held For Barbaro At Alibi Breakfast.
Update 1912: Thursday's Pimlico Preakness update:
Trainer Todd Pletcher supervised gallops for both of his entrants in Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Belmont Park Thursday morning and then put them on a van for Pimlico at about 9 a.m.
"Both horses are doing very well," said the three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer, who is looking for his first victory in a Triple Crown event. Circular Quay was sixth in the Kentucky Derby and King of the Roxy has been idle since finishing second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
"The only other horse that we did run back in two weeks is Impeachment (third in 2000)," Pletcher said when asked about the decision to enter Circular Quay. "Both of these horses have somewhat similar running styles. They're both horses that fall well out of the race early and make one run. The bottom line is I needed to see how the horse is doing, how he's training."
King of the Roxy was targeted for the Preakness immediately after the Santa Anita Derby, but Circular Quay had been widely expected to bypass the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, along with the four stablemates that joined him in the Churchill Downs starting gate two weeks ago.
"My original thought was we'd probably wait and not run him back in the Preakness, but he came out of the race really well and he sort of was touting himself to me in the morning," Pletcher said. "I said, 'Maybe I'll keep an open mind about it and breeze him on Monday (May 14) and see how that goes.' He breezed very well on Monday. I think if the race unfolds the way it looks on paper, the race should set up for a horse to come from off the pace. That's obviously where he'll be."
John Velazquez will be aboard Circular Quay, his first choice in the Kentucky Derby. Garret Gomez, the leading money-winner among the nation's jockeys, will ride King of the Roxy for Pletcher, the nation's leading money winner among trainers.
Pletcher said the 1-3/16-mile distance of the Preakness isn't a concern for Circular Quay, a son of Thunder Gulch, but it may be for King of the Roxy. He is a son of Littleexpectations, who was primarily a sprinter/miler.
"A mile and three-sixteenths is a concern," he said. "It's shorter than the Derby, but it's still a long way. He should sit a good trip; he's tactical enough. He should be able to position himself on the first turn. He's not so headstrong that he would be involved in the first tier. I would say that on paper it looks like he (King of the Roxy) could fall into the garden spot."
King of the Roxy is 3-for-7 lifetime, including wins in the Grade 2 Hutcheson in March at Gulfstream and the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park last fall. He was a well-beaten eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
When asked if he preferred coming to the Preakness a bit more under the radar than in Louisville with his five runners, Pletcher didn't hesitate: "No, I'd rather be there with the Derby winner."
C P WEST -- Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito made his first appearance at the Preakness Stakes Barn Thursday morning, hours after arriving with the van that brought the son of Came Home from Belmont to Pimlico on Wednesday evening.
"He galloped a mile and a half," Zito said before addressing an enclave of media at his traditional corner on the track side of the Stakes Barn.
Robert LaPenta's C P West, who hasn't won in four starts since winning his maiden debut at Saratoga last summer, is 20-1 on the morning line with jockey Edgar Prado assigned the mount.
"What we're trying to do is get into the Triple Crown picture," Zito said of the runner-up in the Grade 3 Withers in his last start. "That's how you can do it, in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Mr. LaPenta would have liked to have run in the Derby because that's what they're in the business for, but I told him it's impossible. I told him to be patient and hopefully we'd get to Baltimore, which we did."
C P West has finished second in four of his five career starts, his only off-the-board effort coming in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall. He was sixth in the field of 14 with a troubled trip, but he never mounted a serious threat. C P West will be the 18th Preakness starter for his trainer, who saddled Louis Quatorze for a dominating victory in 1996.
"Right after the Juvenile he had some ankle issues that we had to take care of and obviously we did," Zito said. "He's progressing nicely. If he can get a good spot Saturday, it will put him in the picture."
Zito and D. Wayne Lukas, the conditioner of another 20-1 long shot in Flying First Class, have won all three legs of the Triple Crown during their careers. Zito, who captured the Kentucky Derby with Strike the Gold (1991) and Go for Gin (1994), completed his classic trifecta with Birdstone in the 2004 Belmont Stakes.
"It's a measure of your success, and you're always trying to prove yourself in sports and life," Zito said.
C P West, who ran second in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park last September, drew the far outside post in the field of nine
"There's nothing you can do," Zito said. "It could help. Everybody likes to be on the inside, but I don't think it'll bother him. He'll be in the clear."
CURLIN -- The son of Smart Strike will be trainer Steve Asmussen's third Preakness starter, but the first to come to the Preakness after running in the Kentucky Derby. Curlin finished third in the Run for the Roses after encountering some traffic.
Asmussen finished fifth in his Preakness appearances with Snuck In (2000) and Easyfromthegitgo (2002).
"Those were nice horses, but those horses weren't capable of doing what we feel this horse is capable of doing," Asmussen's assistant, Scott Blasi, said Thursday morning.
Blasi is handling Curlin this week while Asmussen attends the funeral of his grandmother. Asmussen is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore Friday.
Curlin shipped from Kentucky Wednesday morning. He made his first trip to the Pimlico track Thursday morning and galloped a mile under regular exercise rider Carmen Rosas. The colt was scheduled to school in the paddock before Thursday's sixth race.
Regular jockey Robby Albarado will ride the colt in the Preakness.
The Preakness horses are saddled on the turf course prior to the race. Since he probably will not have a chance to school Curlin on the turf course, Blasi said Asmussen will probably opt to saddle the colt in Pimlico's enclosed paddock and walk him to the turf course. That is the procedure Curlin followed at Oaklawn Park -- where the Arkansas Derby starters are saddled in the infield -- before his smashing victory in the Grade 2 stakes.
Blasi said he agreed with the analysis of some veteran trainers -- including Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense's trainer Carl Nafzger -- that Curlin is likely to improve from his Derby experience. The Derby was the fourth race of Curlin's career and followed three decisive victories.
"Street Sense ran a brilliant race on that day," Blasi said. "Hopefully, our horse found out that it wasn't going to be a cakewalk every time he went over there. He's won three races by 28 lengths. He found himself in a position he'd probably never been in before.
"I think Robby brings a lot to the table as far as he learned as much about Curlin as Curlin learned that he's going to have to run. I think it's going to work out well."
Curlin found trouble early in the Derby, but managed to get free and finish well.
"He was definitely running at the wire," Blasi said. "That's not an easy thing to do as far as horses going a mile and a quarter and horses getting tired. I like the direction he had at the end of the race, as far as how green he was early on."
Blasi said that Curlin has shown his connections that he is ready for the difficult assignment in the Preakness two weeks after the Derby.
"The thing I loved about the Derby and why I thought we were in such good shape to come here is 20 to 30 minutes after the Derby in the test barn this horse felt great," Blasi said. "He was walking around and he drank about three-quarters of a bucket of water and gave all the signs that that race really hadn't stressed him out. That's a very positive sign for all of us."
Blasi said the colt appears to be mentally fresh, too.
"I've seen horses sulk after a race, but this horse was very upbeat and very energetic," Blasi said. "Just watching him around the barn and stuff, I think he's even shown a little more life."
While top stakes horses rarely are asked to run in major events 14 days apart in this era, Blasi said the sprawling Asmussen operation has experience with quick turnarounds.
"From having 200 head, I think we've been in a lot of different scenarios with horses, as far as running them back in two weeks," he said. "We feel very comfortable with doing that."
Blasi said the decision to bring Curlin to the Preakness after the Derby came after careful examination of the colt.
"We're running in the Preakness because we think we belong and we think we can win," he said. "That's the only reason to run anyway."
FLYING FIRST CLASS -- Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he hasn't thought much about his five previous Preakness victories as he prepared Ellwood "Buddy" Johnston's colt for the 132nd Preakness.
"This is a new day and a new horse, a new client and a new spot," Lukas said. "All I can say on those five is you draw on your experience."
Lukas noted that unlike college basketball, in which coaches conduct clinics, trainers do not share strategy. He said the Preakness provides a different scenario because most of the runners are stabled in the stakes barn.
"It's kind of fun, though, to have us all in the same locker room," he said. "I get to see everyone's horse walk around here and the condition of them. Some of these horses look damn good. I flew in with Curlin, he looks damn good."
Lukas watched Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense train at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning.
"He looked good on the racetrack," Lukas said.
Lukas said that Flying First Class has settled into the routine at Pimlico after shipping from Kentucky Wednesday morning. Flying First Class and the other Lukas-trained horses jogged over the Pimlico track Thursday morning.
"They had worked on Tuesday and shipped on Wednesday," he said. "They normally would have jogged on Wednesday, but with the ship I moved the jog a day."
At this point, Lukas said fitness is not the issue.
"What we do now is kind of like an athletic team, all you want to do is keep them healthy and eating," he said. "There is no way to get them fit in one day. Whatever it is, it is, for every one of these guys. We're just trying to get them over there now. Pack them in bubble wrap and get them over there."
Flying First Class is the first horse Lukas has trained for Johnston, a breeder-owner, who operates Old English Rancho, near Sanger, Calif. Lukas trained the colt's sire, Perfect Mandate, and suggested to Johnston that he consider buying the horse as a stallion prospect.
HARD SPUN -- Larry Jones is savoring every second of his Triple Crown campaign with Hard Spun, who finished a strong second behind Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.
"I never dreamed I would ever be a part of it, especially with a live horse. This horse here, he's for real," said the 50-year-old native of Western Kentucky, whose colt is rated second at 5-2 in the morning line for Saturday's Preakness Stakes. "It's a good feeling that you figure in, factor in."
Jones embraces his humble past, cherishing every minute he's spent in the thoroughbred business.
"When I think back on what I started with, it's a dream come true. I got started with an $800 horse (Ala Turf) that my dad thought I could outrun. I've come a long ways," said Jones Wednesday morning before taking Hard Spun to school at the starting gate and for a light once-around gallop at Pimlico. "I started out as an owner because no one really wanted to give me a shot. I just bought them and trained them myself.
"We started with what we could afford, and we've been very fortunate. The fourth or fifth year I was in, we had another $800 horse (Capt. Bold) that was my first stakes winner," he added. "We've been blessed. It's been good. It's been a long road. But we sure didn't start into it with a silver spoon in our mouths."
His humble beginnings in the business have prepared him well for thoroughbred racing's main stage.
"We've worked our way up, and it's helped me with these (horses). You know, all horses have issues and problems," he said. "I've got to work enough with claimers and cheap horses along the way to know if it's serious or minor and something you can work through.
"I'm kind of glad I didn't get to start at the top, because if you achieve something too quick, you really don't appreciate it. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. We hope it's not," he added. "We hope we can start doing it on a somewhat more often basis than every 27 years, because I've figured it out... I might not have more than three or four more shots at this if we don't."
Mario Pino, the winningest rider in Maryland history, will have the return mount aboard Hard Spun.
MINT SLEWLEP -- After having the Preakness Stakes Barn to himself since shipping into Pimlico last Sunday, Mint Slewlep didn't mind the company of his Preakness rivals Thursday morning.
"He's handling everything fine," trainer Robbie Bailes, as his Preakness hopeful seemed unfazed by the drastically increased shedrow activity. "That's what we were hoping. We wanted him to get familiar with his surroundings, and it's worked."
Mint Slewlep, who'll be ridden by Alan Garcia, galloped 1-1/2 miles under exercise rider Christy Knorr before the renovation break Thursday morning.
STREET SENSE â€“ The Kentucky Derby winner seemed to enjoy his public bath outside the Preakness Stakes Barn after walking the shedrow on his first morning at Pimlico Thursday.
It was 17 years ago that Carl Nafzger brought another Kentucky Derby winner to the Preakness (Unbridled). It didn't work out for the 65-year-old trainer that May afternoon when he finished second to Summer Squall, but he'll have the favorite again in the cool and composed Street Sense.
"He takes a couple looks around like Unbridled, then he says: 'OK, this is where we're at. I wonder what's gonna happen now,' " said Nafzger Thursday morning after Street Sense was returned to Stall 40, the stall traditionally reserved for the Derby winner.
Nafzger said Street Sense shares a lot of attributes with his 1990 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old.
"Mentally, yes; soundness, yes; immune system, yes; ability, yes; the way he performs, they're different horses," he said. "Unbridled was a big horse and he'd get his machine rolling and he could really, really cover the ground. But if he got in traffic ... This horse can check -- hit it, cruise; hit it, cruise, hit it."
The 65-year-old Texan, who also trained Eclipse winner Banshee Breeze (1998 3-year-old filly), has written a book about training entitled "Traits of a Winner: The Formula for Developing Thoroughbred Racehorses." On this morning, he was minimizing his role in Street Sense's success.
"It's really very simple," he said. "When you get a good horse, don't mess him up. If he can really run, I can really train. Have you ever noticed with a good running back, you don't just change his style? You just sort of help him adjust it and do a little better what he wants to do."
Nafzger, a good friend of Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator Jim Bates, said that if Street Sense would be compared to a running back it would be a scat back because he's "quick."
In the Preakness, Street Sense will try to become the seventh horse since 1977 to head to the Belmont Stakes with a chance to sweep the Triple Crown, last won in 1978 by Affirmed.
"Let's just put it this way," Nafzger said. "I've only got to beat eight horses Saturday. If we get that done, we've done it. If we don't, well, we got beat. It's easier than 19 and a lot better than 30,000 (foals born in this generation) when we started." Nafzger said Street Sense will gallop Friday morning over the Pimlico strip for the first time.
Jockey Calvin Borel will be making his first Preakness appearance when he takes Street Sense to the starting gate Saturday.
XCHANGER -- The Federico Tesio winner gave his trainer reason for optimism Thursday morning during his 1-5/8-mile gallop at Fair Hill Training Center in preparation for a start in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
"Everything's good to go," trainer Mark Shuman said. "I had a nice, relaxed gallop. Everything's good."
Shuman plans to ship Xchanger from Fair Hill to Pimlico on Saturday morning, subject to a late change, he said.
"I think we'll let him get a good night's rest in his own bed, then bring him there Saturday," Shuman said.
Fair Hill, where he is building a 32-stall barn, gives Shuman a lot of options.
"It's the best place to train a stable. It has such a central location," said Shuman, who currently leases 20 stalls at the northeastern Maryland facility. "There are so many tracks that we can ship to really easily."
The 3-year-old son of Exchange Rate will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.
Update 1911: Quiz time as we get ready for the Preakness. Who was D. Wayne Lukas' first Preakness starter. When was it, and how many starters will Lucas have after saturday's race ? This quiz is sponsored by Lori (CA) and she will donate $100 to the equine welfare charity of choice.
Update 1910: Another lovely morning this morning at Fair Hill. I was joined by Ricky, a Washington Post photographer. First out was Farouche and she went to the Tapeta track to gallop a mile and a quarter. On my way back from the track I walked with (another) Ricky who was on Diabolical, who is running on the Preakness undercard. He looks great (the horse). Second set was Nautical Agent, and by this time Ricky (the photographer) had arrived and followed us to the track, I was with Tim who was on Quick Quest. We galloped them a mile and a half, hopefully some nice shots came out from that. Nautical Agent galloped very nicely, as she seems to do! Finally I rode Grandma, and we went across the fields with Tim on Nonpariel. They both broke out of the gate yesterday across the shoot, so today was to be an easy day for them. It was. We spied an eagle sitting high up in a tree, we also saw a couple of young foxes scurrying around. All very beautiful. Once done I hung out with Ricky (photographer) so he could get some pictures of Michael Matz' team, which included Peter on Chelokee. A nice pleasant and short morning's work.
Update 1909: Channel 8 WGAL (NBC)'s piece on Barbaro last night (and I believe there will be a follow up piece tonight): Barbaro: A Look Back at the Legacy.
Update 1908: The Jackson's recently donated $250,000 to The Belmont Child Care Association (Anna House) to establish the Lael Stable Fund endowment. Anna house is also hosting a benefit Bar B Que on June 3, Edgar Prado will be in attendance. For those in the area, it may be a fun event to support. Edgar's birthday is forthcoming and Fans of Barbaro are planning a gift for Edgar (EDGAR'S 40th B'DAY TRIBUTE!) that will support Anna House.
Invasor had his second work on wedneday after returning from Dubai and Funny Cide is back in the entries for friday: Invasor cranking up for Suburban.