May 4, 2011 |
Five years ago, a horse owned by a Chester County couple, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, trained by another Chester County resident, Michael Matz, won the Kentucky Derby by 61/2 lengths, causing every expert at Churchill Downs to reach for superlatives, judging the perfomance against the best they had ever seen. "A sublime performance," race-caller Tom Durkin nailed it as Barbaro romped under a hand ride, never feeling the whip. Two weeks later, of course, the story turned, and Barbaro spent the next eight months at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center after multiple fractures suffered at the Preakness Stakes.
March 31, 2012 |
By sunset on Saturday, the Union Rags story will include another important chapter. If this colt, trained by Michael Matz of Barbaro fame and owned by Chadds Ford's Phyllis Wyeth, wins the $1 million Florida Derby impressively, Union Rags won't just be the Kentucky Derby favorite - he already has that claim - but the buzz will grow that maybe this is the year for a Triple Crown horse. It might seem unfair, even crazy, to put that kind of label on a 3-year-old, given the difficulties of the Triple Crown path, but it's a common early-spring fever, and Union Rags picks up believers with every stride, including during workouts.
August 1, 2006 |
Part of the morning ritual now at the Fair Hill Training Center: Shortly before 7 on Wednesday, Alex Brown, a veteran exercise rider at Fair Hill, on a 2-year-old filly named Chappaqua, headed back to the barn from the training track when he passed trainer Michael Matz on his pony. From his horse, Brown asked the standard question: "Do you have the news from last night?" "Everything's the same," Matz, who had already spoken to Barbaro's surgeon, told Brown. "It's good. " Within a few minutes of the brief exchange, Update No. 316 was posted at www.timwoolleyracing.
May 25, 2006 |
David Zipf, chief veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission, knows by now that NBC's cameras never showed him taking a look at Barbaro after the horse prematurely and now famously left the gate before Saturday's Preakness Stakes, causing a lot of viewers to make the leap that Barbaro wasn't examined and was, in fact, hurt by that gate incident. "I really wasn't worried about being on the television," Zipf said yesterday in a telephone interview. "Maybe next time I'll have a private photographer.
May 31, 1992 |
After turning in a victorious - and penalty-free - performance last night, Michael Matz kept his hold on the top position in his quest to represent the U.S. equestrian team in the Summer Olympics. He was tied after two rides on different horses with Anne Kursinski on Top Seed for first place in last night's $25,000 Open Jumper Stake, which concluded the Devon Horse Show. Matz, an Olympic veteran from Collegeville, Pa., turned in the leading performance on Heisman, a 14-year-old Oldenburg stallion, as the selection process reached its halfway mark with three trials to go. Heisman was named the champion open jumper, while Matz was named leading open-jumper rider.
April 30, 2006 |
Michael Matz started his new job with a long commute. Every morning, seven days a week, at 3:45 a.m., Matz would start from his home in Collegeville on Route 422, get to the Blue Route, and into Delaware on Interstate 95. That's what it took to get to his barn at Delaware Park by 5 a.m. to start training his horses. It wasn't a drive Matz had to make. He could have chosen another lucrative path, speaking at clinics and teaching equestrian riders who would have lined up to learn from a three-time Olympian and the all-time leading money winner in the sport of show jumping.
January 31, 2007 |
The birthday party of our friends' little girl was still going strong but I knew post time was quickly approaching. We were outside in their yard, no televisions in sight. I couldn't stand it anymore. "The Preakness is starting in a few minutes," I said, trying not to sound too stern. This was not my first mention of the horse race. Somewhat reluctantly, the kids put down their bubbles and the grown-ups gathered their drinks, and we settled in front of the TV just in time to see Barbaro break through the gate too early.
April 13, 2007 |
Rick Porter's cell phone rang yesterday morning, and he knew who was calling and exactly what it meant. Porter told himself: "This is going to be the call that tells you if you're going to the Derby. " Porter has owned a lot of racehorses, including some outstanding ones, but never a Kentucky Derby horse. He's got one now. The Wilmington car dealer's Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old, Hard Spun, already had enough graded-stakes earnings to qualify for the Derby. But trainer Larry Jones wanted to work the horse at Churchill Downs to make sure he took to the track surface.
April 22, 2007 |
Two hours before the first plane took off down the road at Bluegrass Airport, Michael Matz already was at full throttle, speed-walking the shed row in his barn at Keeneland Race Course, quickly ducking into the stall of his Kentucky Derby prospect, Chelokee, but not lingering. In another stall, he told a groom to tighten a massage blanket that had just been placed on a filly. The predawn hours were filled this way. One horse needed a ring bit. Another got a tongue-tie. On and on, down the row. As Matz went about his morning business Thursday, he didn't have time to stop and think about all the events of the last year.
May 2, 2009 |
As crazy as it gets all over Churchill Downs, as the mint juleps keep flowing, it is quiet back by the barns, a nervous still. When the horses leave their barns under a fading sun, the only sound is from their hooves, until a corner is turned . . . and there are the Twin Spires and 150,000 people. From then on, a wall of sound escorts the trainers and their Kentucky Derby horses around the track to the paddock. The Walk, they call it. The Derby remains the fastest two minutes in sports, a passing shower in the national sports calendar.