Barbaro Stays Hot in Tropical Park Derby

Lael Stables' undefeated Barbaro was an impressive winner of Sunday's Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT), the first 'derby' in the nation in 2006, at Calder Sunday for his third consecutive win on the turf.

With Edgar Prado aboard for the first time, the 2-5 favorite Barbaro collared Mr. Silver in upper stretch and cruised to victory by 3 3/4 lengths while completing the nine-furlong distance in 1:46 3/5 on firm going.

Michael Matz trains the son of Dynaformer-La Ville Rouge (Carson City) who won the 1 1/16-mile Laurel Futurity by eight lengths in his previous try Nov. 19. He broke his maiden debuting on the Delaware Park lawn going one mile on Oct. 4 by 8 1/2 lengths. The $60,000 winner's share pushed the earnings of Roy and Gretchen Jackson's homebred to $159,000.

"He's obviously a very talented horse," Matz said. "Whether he carries the class he shows on turf over to the dirt, we just don't know yet, but his mother and half-brother (Holy Ground) ran well on the dirt. So, we'll talk it over with the Jacksons to see whether we try him on dirt next."

Barbaro tracked Mr. Silver, who set the pace while racing well off the hedge on his own, carving fractions of :23 1/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 15/. Barbaro moved up easily on the outside of the front-runner coming off the far turn and was soon in command.

"We got a perfect trip, but regardless of that, I could have been anywhere in the race I wanted to be and still would have won," Prado said. "That's how good this horse is. I watched his first two races and I was impressed. Now, after riding him, I'm even more impressed."

Wise River and Brice Blanc came on for second over Michael Lewis, the 6-1 second choice ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.

Yankee Master, winer of the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland two months ago, was scratched.

Barbaro paid $2.80, $2.80 and $2.20. Wise River returned $8.80 and $4.20. Michael Lewis was $3.20 to show.

Mr. Silver finished fourth, followed by Can't Beat It, My Royal Man, International Cat, Allsmarts, Manchu Prince, Wedding Singer, Immersed in Gold and Rehoboth.

Another heavy favorite, Lawrence Goichman's New York homebred filly J'ray, won the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks on the turf with jockey John Velazquez in the irons.

Todd Pletcher trains the daughter of Distant View. The jockey and trainer were both the North American leading earners of 2005 in their respective categories.

J'ray has won her last three races – all on turf – and would have a perfect record were it not for a loss in her debut on dirt at Belmont Park. Sunday, she defeated the front-running Stolen Prayer by a length while covering 1 1/6-mile distance 1:40.88 on firm going. It was a neck back to Nice Nelly in third.

Sent off as the 1-to-2 favorite, J'ray paid $3.00, $2.40 and $2.10. Stolen Prayer returned $4.00 and $2.40, while Nice Nelly paid $2.40 to show.

J'ray has now won four of five overall with earnings of $217,245.

(Chart, Equibase)