Michael Matz has put the past behind him and is only focusing on getting Union Rags through the Florida Derby and on to the Kentucky Derby, but the trainer is still clearly bothered by the Eclipse Award voting.
On the morning of April 30, as the eyes of the nation turned to Churchill Downs for the upcoming running of the 134th Kentucky Derby, a Brook Ledge horse van arrived at Stephens Thoroughbreds in Ocala, Fla.
HBO's "Barbaro," a documentary exploring the triumph and tragedy of the winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will premiere June 6.
Trainer Michael Matz saddles Chelokee in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I), but he says nothing can replace his memories of last year's winner, the ill-fated Barbaro.
The individuals associated with undefeated Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, veterinary surgeon Dr. Dean W. Richardson and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center, and veteran racing journalist Steven Crist will be honored later this year with awards presented by the National Turf Writers Association.
Barbaro, installed as the even-money morning-line favorite for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), galloped strongly and "blew out" a quarter of a mile in an unofficial :24 1/5 Thursday at Fair Hill Training Center in his final prep for the classic at Pimlico Racecourse.
Back in January, before Barbaro had ever run on the dirt, Michael Matz was asked if he knew where the name Barbaro came from. He called to assistant trainer Peter Brette: "Hey, Peter, what does the name Barbaro mean?" Brette didn't hesitate with his answer: "Kentucky Derby winner."
While some top 3-year-olds were preparing for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro settled into Barn 25 at Keeneland for some quiet relaxation before shipping to Louisville, Ky., for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.
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