Behindatthebar wasn’t ready for a start in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after winning the April 19 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II). But with two more weeks between races under his girth, the Todd Pletcher trainee could be one of the more legitimate contenders for the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Owned by Padua Stable, Michael Shustek, and W. Don Stanley, the Forest Wildcatcolt was somewhat of a late arrival to the Triple Crown scene. Purchased by Shustek in 2007 for $145,000 at the OBS June sale of 2-year-olds and horses of racing age, he was unraced as a 2-year-old and did not make his debut until this January. Then, running 6 ½ furlongs over Cushion Track Jan. 12 at Santa Anita, he finished second in a maiden special weight by just three-quarters of a length .
Pletcher ran him back at Santa Anita Feb. 2, and Behindatthebar did not disappoint. Fanning five wide at the head of the lane after stalking the pace in the seven-furlong maiden special weight, he closed handily to win by 2 ¼ lengths – earning Pletcher’s respect and attracting the attention of Padua’s racing manager, Sasha Sanan. Padua purchased the colt privately for an undisclosed sum shortly thereafter.
“Todd and I had been looking at a number of horses and he pointed Behindatthebar out to me,” Sanan said. “Long story short, we both agreed we liked the horse and the price he was being offered at and tried to wrap a deal up in as quick of fashion as possible.”
Trying dirt and racing under Padua silks for the first time, Behindatthebar threw in his only disappointing performance thus far – a fifth-place effort in the March 8 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III). He came back from that 4 ½-length loss to take an April 3 allowance event at Santa Anita by a handy four lengths in spite of drifting in the stretch after making a bid four wide.
“It looked from his first two races that he wanted to go longer, and he had been fairly green in those two,” Sanan said. “And I don’t know if (the El Camino Real) went in a fashion that would produce his best result. He needs to settle and come with a run in his own due time, so that’s what we’re hoping he’ll do in the Preakness.”
Following Behindatthebar’s solid allowance effort, Pletcher ran him in the Coolmore Lexington, which the colt won by a length. The winner’s share of $201,500 gave him the graded earnings to make the field for the Kentucky Derby, but Pletcher chose to hold off for a while, aiming instead for the Preakness.
“I think our horse is gonna run a good race,” Sanan said. “In order to keep the forward progression going, we had to skip the Derby. It would have been too much too soon. Big Brown is an intimidating horse, but we plan to show up and run our best race. Whether he’s good enough to win or be in the mix, we’ll find out.”
Dealing with concerns over the colt’s experience on dirt, Pletcher has shipped him to Belmont Park, where he’ll stay as long as possible.
“Right now he’s training at Belmont, because we were looking to address his lack of experience on a traditional dirt surface. He’s training on it now and will be working sometime this weekend, and unless we see some strong reason that says otherwise, we expect him to handle the dirt just fine.”
Behindatthebar was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Frank Justice and Meadow Oaks Farm out of the Runaway Groom mare Rihana.