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May 26, 2006

Bernardini wins Preakness; Barbaro breaks leg


Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - In one of the strangest Preakness Stakes ever, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro had to be pulled up shortly after the start of the race and suffered a broken leg. Bernardini went on to win the 131st running of the second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown.

Barbaro broke through the starting gate before the actual start of the Preakness. He was quickly brought under control by jockey Edgar Prado and the outriders. When the race did start, the colt broke well with the eight other horses.

However, within a short time after the start, Barbaro suffered an injury to his right hind leg. He was pulled up by Prado. After the race, Dr. Larry Bramlage of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, stated the injury as "significant". It was described as a "serious fracture" that will require "major surgery". Bramlage said the injury will likely end Barbaro's racing career.

Just two weeks ago, Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby by 6 1/2 lengths, but now faces a life-threatening injury with fractures above and below his ankle.

"It's like a kick in the gut for everybody," Bramlage said. "Everybody was such a fan of this horse. He was such a great athlete. It's the same thing when a star football player goes down or a basketball player injures his knee. It just puts a damper on the entire enthusiasm of the crowd."

Trained by Michael Matz, Barbaro was undefeated in his six career starts heading into the Preakness. He started from the sixth position and was in the middle of the pack until suffering the injury when Prado pulled to the middle of the track. The colt was loaded into an equine ambulance after the race, and X-rays a short time later revealed the fractures.

It is expected that Barbaro will be transferred to the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. The center is located in Chester County, Pennsylvania, not far from the home of Barbaro's owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson.

As the race was run, Like Now set the pace followed by Sweetnorthernsaint and Brother Derek. Making a move around the turn for home was Bernardini.

As Like Now faded Sweetnorthernsaint took over the lead with Bernardini moving along side. At the top of the stretch, Bernardini ran past Sweetnorthernsaint and went on to win by six lengths.

Sweetnorthernsaint finished second followed by Hemingway's Key, Brother Derek, Greeley's Legacy, Platinum Couple, Like Now and Diabolical.

The time for the 1 3/16 miles was 1:54.65 at Pimlico Race Course. This was the fastest time since Real Quiet won in 1998 with 1:54.75.

Bernardini is owned by the Darley Stable and trained by Tom Albertrani. The bay colt was coming off a win in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in April. The Preakness victory was worth $650,000 to bring Bernardini's career earnings to $760,480. The colt did not race as a two-year-old and has won three of his four lifetime starts.

Bernardini was ridden by Javier Castellano, who was making his first appearance in the Preakness Stakes. Next for Bernardini is the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 10 at Belmont Park.

"I didn't realize the horse (Barbaro) got hurt in the first turn," Castellano said. "When I got to the three-quarter pole I got so much horse. (I said) that's my race."

Bernardini returned $27.80, $9.40 and $5.80. Sweetnorthernsaint paid $7.80 and $5.00, and Hemingway's Key paid $8.00 for show.

The result extends the drought of no Triple Crown winner, as Affirmed was the last such victor in 1978.

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