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May 26, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The second leg of the Triple Crown was run at Pimlico Race Course on May 20th, 2006 and the racing world entered into that race with such high hopes, hopes of a Triple Crown for the first time since 1978 when AFFIRMED completed the Triple Crown by a nose over ALYDAR. Although there have been many chances, two in fact over the last three years, this was the year, at least many experts felt that way after BARBARO won the Kentucky Derby in very impressive fashion.

Sent off as the 1-2 favorite BARBARO never got to contest the race as he was pulled up after running about a hundred yards with a right hind injury. It appeared that BARBARO, who broke through the gate prior to the race had taken a bad step and broke his right hind ankle in a few spots. This injury that he sustained is usually a cause to euthanize a horse on the racetrack as it is a very difficult injury to deal with in surgery. However, they were able to keep BARBARO calm on the racetrack, got him stabilized back at the barn and the veterinarian was able to perform the surgery the next day. They were able to stabilize the ankle with 27 screws inserted in around the ankle in order to stabilize the joint. Since the surgery, BARBARO has been doing "excellent" according to his doctor but the recovery time will be several months as he continues his stay at the New Bolton Center located in Kennett Square, Pa. Let us hope that for the horse, his connections and maybe some day through his offspring that BARBARO pulls through, he is a true warrior and a great racehorse.

Back to the race now, where we may have seen another great race horse in the making. BERNARDINI who had only run three times before this race was trying this distance for the first time, in fact he was trying two turns for the first time also and he didn’t disappoint. Stalking the early leaders in fourth he made a big move on the turn to take the lead into the stretch and never looked back scoring by more than five lengths over SWEETNORTHERNSAINT, who was six lengths clear of third place finisher HEMINGWAY’S KEY. BROTHER DEREK, who was the clear second choice in the race, had to take up when BARBARO broke down, he made a move toward the leaders on the turn and ran like a tired racehorse en route to a well beaten fourth.

The pace of the race was set by LIKE NOW, who was coming off a solid second in the Lexington, laid down fractions of 23:1, 46:3, 1:10:1 before giving up the lead at the three quarter mark to SWEETNORTHERNSAINT who was then passed by BERNARDINI. BERNARDINI, who would have clearly been one of the favorites in the Belmont Stakes will skip that race. His connections have come out and said that they will pass the Belmont and instead look towards the big races over the Summer with the main year end goal the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill downs on November 4th. The Jim Dandy (July 29th) a prep for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga is one of the choices or the Haskell (August 6th) at Monmouth is another way to go.

With BERNARDINI skipping the Belmont this means that the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness winner will not race in the Belmont. This however doesn’t mean that the Belmont will not be a good race. There are many horses that are pointing to Belmont that should make this race a very competitive event. BLUEGRASS CAT, STEPPENWOLFER, and JAZIL, the second, third and fourth place finishers in the Derby are possibles for the Belmont Stakes. HIGH COTTON and SUNRIVER, two Todd Pletcher trainees who both won on Saturday are also possibles for the Belmont Stakes. BOB AND JOHN, another top three year old from the Bob Baffert barn is another that will be pointed to the Belmont Stakes on June 10th. With the defection of BERNARDINI and the injury sustained by BARBARO should make the field for the Belmont swell and it should also make it a very competitive race.



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