It is obvious watching Barbaro the past two mornings that the winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) is enjoying the tranquil life at Fair Hill Training Center, as he prepares for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The son of Dynaformer
appears more relaxed than he was at Churchill Downs, especially coming off the track after training.
After turning in a solid once-around gallop at 10:15 a.m. Monday on the wood chip track, which was renovated for him following training, Barbaro returned to the main track and had a spirited gallop on Tuesday, and looked as strong as he did at Churchill Downs. But unlike Churchill, where he was on the muscle and always tossing his head around coming off the track, he exited calmly and quietly, despite a number of photographers and cameramen lining the path leading off the track.
Each day, he was taken out to graze -- in a turn-out paddock on Monday and on the grassy field this morning. It is no wonder why Matz is keeping Barbaro at Fair Hill for as long as possible. He said he likely will van him down to Pimlico sometime Friday afternoon.
There still are no horses in the Pimlico stakes barn. Brother Derek, flying from Louisville, and Hemingway's Key, vanning down from Saratoga, will be the first arrivals on Wednesday.
Trainer Michael Matz said everything is going perfectly with Barbaro since the Derby. When asked continuously about the possibility of the colt regressing off the Derby, Matz' always gave the same answer – he, like Brother Derek's trainer Dan Hendricks and Sweetnorthernsaint's trainer Michael Trombetta, has no idea how the horse will react coming back in two weeks.
But from all the signs Barbaro has been giving him, he sees no reason why he shouldn't run another big race, especially since the colt's campaign has been mapped out with the specific intention of having a relatively fresh horse throughout the Triple Crown.
Also out on the main track for a gallop this morning was the latest Preakness addition, Diabolical, who finished second Barbaro in last fall's Laurel Futurity and second to Exclusive Quality in this year's Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream. In the latter, he was beaten only a half-length in a sharp 1:15 4/5 for the six and a half furlongs.
Trainer Steve Klesaris said he's taking a shot because of the expected small field (as of now), and the fact he has a fresh horse and there is always the possibility the big three may be a bit knocked out from the Derby.
The son Artax, obviously not used to photographers standing by the rail, tried to prop as he came by the first time, and was looking over at everyone the second time around. In his last start, Diabolical easily won a one-mile allowance race at Delaware Park, but that was against only three opponents, and he was sent off as the overwhelming 1-20 favorite.
He adds another speed element to the Preakness, having shown exceptional speed in his career debut at Belmont Park last year, which won by almost 10 lengths in a snappy 1:03 1/5 for the five and a half furlongs.
None of the three favorites – Barbaro, Brother Derek, and Sweetnorthernsaint – will have a workout before the Preakness, which is another sign that the old ways are changing dramatically. In 1987, when Jack Van Berg breezed Alysheba a half in :50 1/5 early on Preakness week, it was considered too slow, and the alarm immediately went off. When John Servis elected not to work Smarty Jones at all in 2004, no one seemed to care. Now you have three trainers all skipping a work and not a mention has been made.To purchase photos of Barbaro from this year's Kentucky Derby, click here.