- As if to rebuff his seemingly increasing number of skeptics, Barbaro capped a one mile gallop with a quarter mile blowout down the stretch. Haskin got him in 24 1/5 seconds.
[Assistant trainer Peter] Brette termed the workout "super" and said it is customary for the colt to gallop strongly before a "blow out" prior to a race. [Bloodhorse]It was actually reported by Gary Stevens on the Derby telecast that the horse practically worked out on the morning of that race too. Our friends at Tim Woolley Racing report that he looked great picking grass an hour later as if nothing had happened.
Meanwhile, Jessica over at Railbird compiles some of the those nay-sayers who feel that, in the words of Bill Finley, he’s a 'bet against' on Saturday. In addition to the ‘bounce theory,’ Finley postulates that perhaps He’s a One-Race Wonder
Prior to the Derby, Barbaro ran just twice on the dirt and, though he won both times, he wasn't exactly dominating. He was more workmanlike in both the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby and looked nothing like the horse who destroyed the field in the Derby. In the Florida Derby, he had to work hard to get past Sharp Humor, who ran 19th in the Derby and was beaten 33 1/4 lengths. Maybe he just had a very good day in the Kentucky Derby. [ESPN.com]And Gary West of the Dallas-Ft Worth Morning Star asserts that Barbaro simply enjoyed the most perfect of trips.
Well, I think that Finley’s one-race wonder theory is even more of a stretch than thinking that he’ll bounce. My opinion is that it’s far more likely that the Derby was a case of the horse improving in just his sixth lifetime start rather than it being a singular fluke. And as far as the “perfect trip” theory, I think that the horse made his own good luck in the Derby. He got good position because he had the athleticism to recover from a stumble out of the gate – a stagger that any other horse could have used as an excuse in itself – and had the speed to put himself there.
Do I think Barbaro is a lock? No. The two weeks off after the far more generous spacing is an unknown factor that nobody – even Michael Matz – can predict the effect of with certainty. And it’s also entirely possible that Brother Derek is the equal of Barbaro; as I’ve said before, I believe that if you thought Brother Derek was the better of the two going into the Derby, you should probably like him on Saturday. Finley correctly points out that he wouldn't be the first horse to rebound in the Preakness after a subpar Derby performance.
But having said that, I don’t really see where Barbaro is worth a significant bet-against in this race, at least with Brother Derek on top. For one thing, unless the betting on Sweetnorthernsaint is so far out of whack (again) as to make Brother Derek the third choice, there’ll be no value on him. More importantly, I feel that the pace scenario for the Preakness, like the Derby, does not serve either Brother Derek or SNS well. There’s plenty of speed, and I think that it’s possible that if Alex Solis tries to gun him to the lead, as Joe Drape reports in the NY Times that he’s likely to do, he’s going to have a fast and fresher opponent in Like Now to contend with. Remember, Brother Derek is coming back on two weeks rest too; many people seem to be ignoring that. His prior races were spaced seven, five, and four weeks apart. And I could argue that his race in the Derby was actually far tougher than that of Barbaro – he certainly covered more ground - and that just maybe, he could be the one that will bounce!
- The NY Times piece is currently the seventh most popular sports article of the day in terms of the number of times it was emailed. Ahead of it is a story on skiing, one on hazing in college sports, two on the final of the Champions League (that’s European soccer), and two on the Yanks. Not saying much for the Mets I suppose.
- As regular readers are well aware, I’m totally fascinated by the incredible sums of money that it’s taken to knock Sweetnorthernsaint down to favoritism in the Kentucky and Illinois Derbies. His trainer spoke about it at this morning’s ‘alibi breakfast,’ and he seems similarly impressed and surprised.
Michael Trombetta.... said he was "shocked" two weeks ago when his horse went to the post in the Kentucky Derby as the 5-1 favorite. "There were so many things going on, and when he was knocked down to the favorite, it was unbelievable. To this day, I still haven't figured it out." "There were so many things going on, and when he was knocked down to the favorite, it was unbelievable. To this day, I still haven't figured it out." [Bloodhorse]