May 7, 2006


Barbaro makes Derby a six-cess story (JIM O'DONNELL, 5/07/06, Chicago Sun-Times)

When you have walked away from the crash landing of a jumbo jet that killed 112 other people and carried the flag of the United States in front of teammates at an emotional closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, the rest of life might play out a little more 9-to-5.

Not for Michael Matz.

A man apparently Velcroed to angels, Matz drew upon the great spirits at another venue Saturday, saddling the heaven-sent Barbaro to a smashing victory in the 132nd Kentucky Derby.

A Churchill Downs throng of 157,536 -- the second-largest in history -- watched as the sleek son of Dynaformer matter-of-factly put away 19 foes in the $2.2 million Run for the Roses. Ridden by Edgar Prado, Barbaro ($14.20) won the 1-1/4-mile classic by 6 1/2 lengths, the fifth-widest winning margin in Derby annals. His final time was 2:01.36 over a perfect strip.

More importantly for a game constantly looking for renewed energy from its marqueed spring series, Barbaro will take a perfect 6-for-6 career mark to his next stop, which almost certainly will be the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in two weeks. He emerged from KD 132 as only the sixth unbeaten modern Derby champion and first since Smarty Jones in 2004. His mid-term sights now are set on the feats of Seattle Slew, who was the last undefeated Triple Crown champion. The late Slew accomplished that in 1977.

The sport's fallen on such hard times we only read him three times a year, but Mr. O'Donnell always makes you feel like you've picked up a 1930s edition of the Sun-Times.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2006 2:35 PM
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