- It’s often true in our game that the dawn of a new day tends to eradicate the disappointments of the prior one. Whether it’s on the backstretch in the early morning or the hours preceding the first race at any track, thoughts are generally focused on the limitless possibilities that a day of racing presents for horsemen and bettors alike.
Racing will go on today, as it did yesterday, when the 13th race at Pimlico attracted over $1 million in exacta and triple wagers alone. But only the coldest amongst us won’t be thinking of the events at New Bolton Center, where Barbaro is scheduled for surgery today. Bloodhorse.com has the medical diagrams, and even blog-like links to relevant reference sites. Barbaro arrived there last evening in a procession televised by helicopter on a local Baltimore station.
"He came off the van with the splint that was applied on the racetrack," said Dr. Nick Meittinis, a private veterinarian who attended to Barbaro. "He was sedated and backed off the van without putting any weight on the leg. After we X-rayed the leg and found what it consisted of, we put a very large padded bandage on him and the entire time the bandage went on he never moved a muscle. That's going to be critical in his recuperation. His temperament is going to help him in his recuperative state."The whole leadup to the race is shrouded now with a spooky sense that there were telltale signs that foretold, and perhaps even warned of the tragic outcome. There was the way Barbaro was bucking during the warm-ups; and even a moment where you see Prado appearing to look back at each of the colt’s back legs after he gave a little kick. And then, his breaking through the starting gate. Reader Mike E asked “Do you think it possible that Barbaro knew he was hurt, and busted out of the gate to spare himself from running the race?” That is an eerie thought, and one that I’d rather not even contemplate.
"We've got him in a very narrow trailer so that he has something to lean on and he doesn't put weight on it. We've got a padded bandage on him. That's about the best we can do here." [Bloodhorse]
I’ll stick with the opinions of the experts for now. Donna Barton-Brothers, who is as sharp as anyone you’ll hear on racing telecasts, said just prior to the race that Barbaro looked fantastic on the track (as did, according to her, Bernardini; though not so for Brother Derek or Sweetnorthernsaint.) Gary Stevens, who was at first alarmed at him breaking through the gate, finally concluded “no harm, no foul” as he was being reloaded. Dr. Bramlage, the “noted” attending veterinarian, concluded that the initial fracture – presumably above the ankle - happened after only an eighth-mile. [Louisville Courier-Journal] So it appears to me as if all the preludes were just a coincidence, and that it was just a bad step; one of those times that the racing gods dictate that misfortune shall occur. After all, it was a miracle that tragedy didn’t triumph over Afleet Alex in the race last year, so perhaps the fates were just getting even. Hopefully, they can show a little mercy for Barbaro now.
- As time goes by, we’ll more appreciate the effort by Bernardini, an amazing story in its own right. Perhaps when his speed rating is released; Andy Beyer writes:
Speed handicappers are apt to rate Bernardini's winning time in the Preakness as superior to Barbaro's time at Churchill Downs. [Washington Post]He ran 2/5ths faster than Afleet Alex did, but, of course, Alex had a little detour along the way. Bernardini came home the final 3/16ths just a tick quicker than last year's 3-year old champ. His final time and come-home fraction were better than those of Smarty Jones and Funny Cide as well. They’ll be debate as to what would have happened if Barbaro hadn’t got hurt, but Tom Albertrani indicated that to him, the order of finish is not what’s in doubt. "He just really seemed to extend at the end. Without Barbaro in there, I don't know how much of a margin he might have won by if (Barbaro) hadn't been injured." [NY Daily News]