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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Morning After

- 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. 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."
"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]
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.

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]


Green Mtn Punter said...

A rather dumb comment by the trainer of the winner- obviously he's not ready for prime time- how the hell does he know how Barbaro would have run in the Preakness if not injured?! How could he possibly know how his horse would have fared when hooking a healthy Barbaro? He's already being defensive about all the talk to come and the fact that Bernardini will, like it or not, be the subplot in the Triple Crown races of 2006- even if he were to win the Belmont. I am already praying for a fresh horse to take this guy down in the Belmont.

Walter said...

...sensational effort by Bernardini, absolutely...and i say that without even having seen the times career start #4 (not to mention his two-turn debut), he made Sweetnorthernsaint look pretty ordinary...Brother Derek lost all chance at the break, though it appears it just wasn't his day for Bernardini, it was mentioned in the previous post that this is the first Triple Crown win for an A.P. Indy offspring...well, it's also the first Triple Crown win for those Godolphin boys...Darley falls under the Godolphin umbrella, they're both owned & operated by Sheikh fact, i'm curious as to why Bernardini wasn't carrying Godolphin colors yesterday...certainly he's proven himself to be top-class, which generally leads to a "promotion" to the Godolphin stable...pehaps it has something to do with location, as Dubai Escapade (who raced under Godolphin colors while based in Dubai) showed up in Darley silks when making her American debut @ Gulfstream early this year...anyway, i'm headed over to the Godolphin site now to see what (if anything) it says about me, this horse looks damn near impossible to stop in the Belmont...Brother Derek will likely get some time off now, Sweetnorthernsaint looks overmatched, Barbaro is injured, and Discreet Cat is in the barn...who's gonna beat this horse?...Steppenwolfer?...Jazil?...Bluegrass Cat?... watched Bernardini's mother (Cara Rafaela) race several times back in the day, and she was a really nice one...looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree...

Nick said...

DRF reports:

Belmont may lack Bernardini, too

In the space of 48 hours, the Belmont Stakes on June 10 went from a race that could have had a Triple Crown bid by Barbaro, to one that might not have the winners of either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner, obviously will race no more after suffering career-ending injuries in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. But Bernardini, the Preakness winner, is questionable to participate in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. He came out of the race well, but he has not been committed to the race by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, whose Darley Stable owns Bernardini.

"Sheikh Mohammed will make the decision on wherever and whenever he runs next," Jimmy Bell, the president of Darley USA, said Monday.

If Bernardini does not run in the Belmont, the Belmont will not have the Derby and Preakness winners for the first time since 2000, when Fusaichi Pegasus won the Derby, and Red Bullet the Preakness.

Those considered definite for the Belmont are Bob and John, Hemingway's Key, Jazil, Oh So Awesome, Steppenwolfer, and Sunriver.

Also possible are Bluegrass Cat, Deputy Glitters, High Cotton and Lewis Michael.