It's been a year and a day since Barbaro was euthanized due to complications from his injury in the 2006 Preakness Stakes.
"We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain," co-owner Roy Jackson said on that sad day. "It was the right decision. It was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation in where it would become more difficult for him, then it would be time."
A series of complications, including laminitis in the left rear hoof and an abscess in the right rear hoof, proved to be too much for Barbaro to overcome.
Barbaro's death was national news. It was the lead story on CBS radio's "World News Roundup." It was the lead story on ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson." His death also was reported on the "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" and the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric."
In a press conference, Dr. Dean Richardson said that Barbaro had been "a happy horse" for the majority of the time since his injury in the Preakness. "But if we couldn't control his discomfort, we wouldn't go on," he added. Barbaro had undergone the most uncomfortable night of his long stay at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania the night before he was euthanized.
Following Barbaro's death, Andrew Beyer wrote in the Washington Post:
"Even for the most hardened racetrackers, the death of Barbaro was a painful and depressing loss. The catastrophic injury that the colt suffered in the Preakness, followed by his euthanization eight months later, constituted a double blow.
"The injury robbed the sport of a horse who might have been one of the best of modern times, one who had the potential to accomplish feats without precedent."
From time to time, I have thought about what Barbaro might have done had he not been injured in the Preakness, just as I can't help wondering what would have happened had Secretariat not been retired following the 1973 Canadian International.
In this column last July 11, I came up with a mythical 1974 campaign for Secretariat if he had continued racing as a 4-year-old.
Similarly, this is what I believe Barbaro might have done if he had not had his racing career cut short by his injury in the Preakness.
--Barbaro makes it seven wins from seven career starts by taking the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 by a neck over Bernardini. Sweetnorthernsaint ends up third, 5 1/4 lengths behind Bernardini.
Bernardini, coming off a win in the Grade III Withers Stakes, gives Barbaro quite a scare. But Barbaro is up to the task, giving him the opportunity to sweep the Triple Crown for Gretchen and Roy Jackson's Leal Stables if he goes on to take the Belmont Stakes.
--Bernardini skips the Grade I Belmont Stakes on June 10. Still, 12 try to thwart Barbaro in his bid to make history.
Barbaro wins the Belmont by five widening lengths to become America's 12th Triple Crown winner. Jazil finishes second, with Bluegrass Cat 1 1/2 lengths farther back in third.
After the Belmont, the Jacksons and trainer Michael Matz announce that Barbaro will get a bit of a rest while they contemplate his next start. Four races are under consideration: Saratoga's Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on July 29, Monmouth Park's Grade I Haskell Invitational at 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 6, the Grade I Arlington Million at 1 1/4 miles on the turf Aug. 12 and Saratoga's Grade I Travers Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 26.
--Barbaro began his career with three consecutive grass victories (a maiden race at Delaware Park by 8 1/2 lengths, the Laurel Futurity by eight lengths and the Grade III Tropical Park Derby at Calder by 3 3/4 lengths). With that in mind, Barbaro's connections elect to switch their Triple Crown winner back to the turf for the Arlington Million.
Facing older rivals for the first time, Barbaro wins the Arlington Million by 2 1/2 lengths. The Tin Man comes in second. Cacique finishes third.
--Bernardini rebounded from his narrow loss in the Preakness to win the Jim Dandy by nine lengths and the Travers by 7 1/2 lengths. This sets up a rematch between Barbaro and Bernardini in Belmont Park's Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles on Oct. 7.
With a huge crowd on hand at Belmont Park, Barbaro wins again to remain undefeated in 10 lifetime starts. He takes the Jockey Club Gold Cup by 1 1/2 lengths. Bernardini has to settle for the place, while Wanderin Boy ends up 6 3/4 lengths farther back in third.
--The Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 is one of the most anticipated races in many years. Triple Crown winner Barbaro is the 2-5 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile event.
Invasor, the 5-2 second choice, comes into the BC Classic off a nose win in the Grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. The Whitney was Invasor's eighth win from nine career starts, his only loss coming when he ran fourth in the Group II UAE Derby won by Discreet Cat.
Bernardini, a close second to Barbaro in the Preakness and Jockey Club Gold Cup Gold Cup, is the 6-1 third choice in BC Classic wagering.
Barbaro responds gamely and wins the BC Classic by a half-length over Invasor, who certainly acquits himself well in defeat. Bernardini finishes third.
The BC Classic is Barbaro's ninth victory from nine starts in 2006. His overall record is 11 wins from 11 starts.
To the sheer delight of Barbaro's legion of fans, the Jacksons announce that the colt will continue racing in 2007 rather than be retired to stud.
Barbaro is voted 2006 Eclipse Awards as champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year.
--Undefeated Triple Crown winner Barbaro returns to the racing wars by making his 2007 debut in Gulfstream Park's Donn Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 3. Also in the field is Invasor, who is seeking revenge for his half-length loss to Barbaro in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Invasor is not able to turn the tables on the Triple Crown winner in the Donn. Barbaro, carrying 128 pounds, wins by 1 1/2 lengths. Invasor finishes second, with Hesanoldsalt third.
--The Jacksons, eager to showcase their Triple Crown winner on the West Coast, ship him to California for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 3. Barbaro carries 129 pounds and romps to a six-length victory over Lava Man, the 2006 Big 'Cap winner. Molengao ends up third.
After the Big 'Cap, the Jacksons announce that Barbaro will not compete in the world's richest race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 31. They say the son of Dynaformer will be freshened a bit, with a second Breeders' Cup Classic in the fall at Monmouth Park the main goal for him.
--Barbaro is 14 for 14 after taking Churchill Downs' Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on June 16. Packing 130 pounds, he wins by seven lengths. Flashy Bull finishes second, while Magna Graduate comes in third.
--On Aug. 11, Barbaro wins the Grade I Arlington Million again. This time he prevails by four facile lengths, with Jamalaya second and The Tin Man third.
--In the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 30, Barbaro attempts to extend his winning streak to 16. Among those standing in his way is Preakness winner Curlin. Since his win in the Preakness, Curlin has finished second to the filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes and third behind Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun in the Haskell Invitational.
Barbaro wins by three-quarters of a length. Curlin finishes second, with Lawyer Ron a neck farther back in third.
By extending his winning streak to 16, Barbaro ties the North American record held by Citation, Mister Frisky and Hallowed Dreams. He also equals Cigar's 16-race winning streak, with one of Cigar's victories coming outside North America in the Dubai World Cup.
--The Jacksons announce that the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27 will be Barbaro's final race. Their hope is he will remain undefeated and make it 17 consecutive wins to break the modern record.
In a BC Classic for the ages, Barbaro wins by a head on a sloppy track, while Curlin finishes second. To Curlin's credit, this is the closest call of Barbaro's illustrious career. Hard Spun finishes third, 4 1/2 lengths behind Curlin.
After his second BC Classic victory, Barbaro is voted 2007 Eclipse Awards as champion older male and Horse of the Year. He heads off to stud as a Triple Crown winner and one of the greatest Thoroughbreds to ever grace the American racing stage.
INTEREST IN COURT VISION SOLD; WAR PASS WORKS
IEAH Stables has joined WinStar Farm in the ownership of Court Vision, winner of the Grade II Remsen Stakes. Court Vision remains No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list. Here is the current list:
1. Court Vision
2. War Pass
4. Into Mischief
5. Cowboy Cal
6. El Gato Malo
7. Colonel John
9. Anak Nakal
10. Majestic Warrior
According to a press release on the IEAH website, the deal to acquire an interest in Court Vision was completed Monday.
"Doing business with the guys at WinStar has been nothing but a pleasure and we can only hope to share in their good fortune," said Michael Iavarone, co-president of IEAH Stables. "If all the stars align and we find ourselves at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, it will be a dream come true. I thank WinStar for giving us the opportunity to partner on such an outstanding horse and take part in such a successful operation. Court Vision has the pedigree, the class and the ability to be a classic winner."
The press release also included a statement from Elliott Walden, vice president of WinStar Farm.
"With Court Vision descending from the female line of A.P. Indy and being a top five rated 2-year-old on the Experimental Free Handicap, the decision to sell was difficult and came down to two things," Walden said. "Firstly, it is consistent with our business plan, and secondly, the relationship [we've had] with IEAH has been win-win for all parties. We look forward to the prospects of adding Court Vision to our elite stallion roster at the end of his successful racing career."
Court Vision is training at Payson Park with trainer Bill "Sunshine Millions" Mott. The Kentucky-bred son of Gulch is scheduled to make his 2008 debut in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 24.
Mott already is off to a terrific start in 2008, sending out three Sunshine Millions winners last Saturday (Go Between in the $1 million Classic at Santa Anita, War Monger in the $500,000 Turf at Gulfstream Park and Quite a Bride in the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita over heavy favorite Nashoba's Key).
Steve Haskin of The Blood-Horse also has Court Vision at No. 1 on his Kentucky Derby list.
Meanwhile, the first Derby lists for a seven-person Louisville Courier-Journal panel were published last Sunday. Cliff Guilliams also has Court Vision at No. 1. Jennie Rees, John Asher, Jay Privman and Gary West have Pyro at No. 1. War Pass tops Eric Crawford's list. Colonel John is atop David Grening's list.
Despite Pyro being ranked No. 1 by more panelists than War Pass, it's War Pass who tops the Courier-Journal consensus. Here is the Courier-Journal's Top 10:
1. War Pass
3. Court Vision
4. Colonel John
5. Into Mischief
6. El Gato Malo
8. Anak Nakal
9. Tale of Ekati
10. Z Fortune
It was good to see War Pass return to the work tab after a mild case of colic led to a scheduled Jan. 19 workout being canceled. The undefeated Kentucky-bred Cherokee Run colt, winner of the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile and voted an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male of 2007, worked four furlongs in :48 4/5 last Saturday at Palm Meadows for trainer Nick Zito.
"He went great, :48 and change," Zito was quoted as saying in the Gulfstream Park barn notes. "He's going to run in about three or 3 1/2 weeks."
After War Pass makes his 2008 debut sometime in February, the tentative plan, according to Zito, is for the colt to then run in the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby on March 15 and Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 8 prior to the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 3.
Another undefeated colt on the Kentucky Derby trail at this time is Yankee Bravo, winner of last Sunday's California Derby at Golden Gate.
Yankee Bravo won a five-furlong grass race by six lengths when unveiled at Redcar in England last Sept. 6. When he made his U.S. debut in the Eddie Logan Stakes at one mile on the grass Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, he generated an electrifying stretch kick to win by a half-length for trainer Paddy Gallagher.
In the California Derby, Yankee Bravo showed that he's capable of succeeding on something other than the turf. Despite not having the best of trips in a roughly run race, he rallied from last in a field of 12 to win the 1 1/16-mile contest on the Tapeta surface by a length.
"He's nominated to the Triple Crown and the Santa Anita Derby," Gallagher said of Yankee Bravo after the California Derby.
Alex Solis rode Yankee Bravo in his Eddie Logan victory. Solis was back aboard the Kentucky-bred son of Yankee Gentleman for his win at Golden Gate last Saturday.
Following the California Derby, Solis said that Yankee Bravo "has a lot of class" and is "very special."
While Yankee Bravo has been visually impressive in both U.S. wins, there is a bit of a concern in that he has yet to earn a strong Beyer Speed Figure. He recorded a 74 in the California Derby following a 77 in the Eddie Logan.
The day before Yankee Bravo took the California Derby, another 3-year-old, Bob Black Jack, did attract attention for earning a big Beyer Speed Figure.
Bob Black Jack won last Saturday's Sunshine Millions Dash by 3 1/2 lengths. On the lightning-fast Cushion Track, the California-bred son of Stormy Jack completed six furlongs in a sizzling 1:06.53 to break the world record of 1:06.60 established by G Malleah at Turf Paradise in 1995.
G Malleah also had held the 6 1/2-furlong track mark of 1:13.80 at Turf Paradise until a 2-year-old colt by the name of Lost in the Fog covered the distance in 1:13.55 to win the Arizona Juvenile Stakes by almost 15 lengths in 2004.
Lost in the Fog earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure for that Turf Paradise romp. Bob Black Jack likewise recorded a 109 Beyer for his win last Saturday for trainer James Kasparoff.
On Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, Bob Black Jack (as a 2-year-old) had earned a 99 Beyer when stepping seven furlongs in 1:20.37 to take the California Breeders' Champion Stakes. On that same card, Johnny Eves (as a 3-year-old) won the Grade I Malibu Stakes in 1:21.08 while earning a 95 Beyer.
Kasparoff says he now intends to see what Bob Black Jack can do in a race longer than seven furlongs. While it remains to be seen how much stamina the colt possesses, there is no denying he is one very fast dude.
Jon White, Xpressbet.com
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