May 15, 2009 |
Nicanor suddenly has more in common with his older brother, Barbaro: a dominating win. Nicanor broke his maiden in a romp, a 15 1/4-length victory on the turf at Delaware Park - the same track where Barbaro won his first career race. A day after the win, co-owner Gretchen Jackson was relieved Barbaro's baby brother was finally able to bust into the winner's circle. "One of my thoughts was, he better do it this time," Jackson said yesterday. "He'd been so close. The result was very pleasing.
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.
January 29, 2009 |
A little before 5 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, a horse will enter the starting gate for the first race of his career and he'll overshadow the future Kentucky Derby horses and past Kentucky Derby horses racing at Gulfstream Park that day - because he's Barbaro's brother. That's half of a remarkable hour at Gulfstream. The race before, the most promising son of Smarty Jones finds out if he is a Kentucky Derby candidate. The first appearance of Nicanor, Barbaro's younger brother, steals the headline spot.
May 2, 2008 |
For Michael Matz, any trip from his home in Chester County down here to Churchill Downs calls for a journey down memory lane. This year, Matz is back at Barn 42, two years after Barbaro electrified the grounds on the first Saturday in May. But this year's trip is far more than revisiting past glories. Yesterday, Matz talked about how training another horse into the Kentucky Derby is a great thrill. This time, his horse is a come-from-behind colt named Visionaire, a 20-1 shot. "You know, at least I'm part of it," Matz said yesterday morning outside his barn after Visionaire came back from the track.
May 10, 2007 |
ELKTON, Md. - There is a very good chance that Michael Matz will take his top 3-year-old, Chelokee, to Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Day. But Chelokee may not be running in the Preakness on May 19. This would be just about as eventful: The trainer of Barbaro may have the favorite in the first-ever Barbaro Stakes, formerly the Sir Barton (after the first Triple Crown winner in 1919) until it was renamed earlier this year. Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, are planning to be there to present the trophy.
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.
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 4, 2007 |
Michael Matz, the trainer of last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, believes he has a 3-year-old capable of contending in this year's Derby. The problem: Matz doesn't believe his horse, Chelokee, will be able to get in the Derby. Matz said that Chelokee will be shipped from his winter headquarters in Florida to Keeneland in the next week or so. Matz plans to be ready to run him in the Kentucky Derby if he gets in the field. Chelokee's third-place finish in Saturday's Florida Derby, after a really tough trip, earned him $100,000, but this was the horse's first graded stake, and $100,000 typically isn't enough to crack the 20-horse Derby field.
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.
November 21, 2006 |
Michael Dickinson, a champion horse trainer, quirky idea man and - maybe most important - inventor of a synthetic all-weather racing surface, gave a blunt assessment of the current landscape in horse racing. "Barbaro was a wake-up call," Dickinson said, speaking at a recent industry seminar in Philadelphia. The trainer was referring to Barbaro's bad step in the Preakness Stakes, which was nearly fatal. Horses have been taking them since they began taking steps. But this has become maybe the most famous misstep in modern American thoroughbred racing, in a year full of them.