May 20, 2006


High stakes in Triple Crown race (Andrew Beyer, 5/20/06, The Washington Post)

If Barbaro wins today's Preakness Stakes, he will be cheered by more than 120,000 people at Pimlico and millions watching on television. He will be the most celebrated racehorse in America. On the brink of sweeping the Triple Crown, he will elicit comparisons to the greatest Thoroughbreds of all time.

Most of the distinctions he will gain from a victory at Pimlico have something in common: You couldn't take them to the bank. The tangible rewards that will go to owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson are relatively modest. They will receive the winner's share of $650,000 from a guaranteed purse of $1 million. To put this number in perspective, compare the Preakness to the Virginia Derby, a mere Grade II stakes race.

When it is run July 15, fewer than 9,000 customers will be watching at Colonial Downs. Yet the Virginia Derby offers the same purse — $1 million — as both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Or put it in perspective this way: If Barbaro captures the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes to win the Triple Crown, he will have earned a total of about $2.7 million for a historic feat that spanned five weeks. That sum is less than a horse named David Junior collected on one night in March by winning the Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates.

No racetracks earn the profits Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Park do from their big races for 3-year-olds. Yet the Triple Crown tracks pay peanuts to the winners.
Today on TV: Preakness Stakes, 3:14 p.m. post time, Ch. 5

Why? Because they can.

2nd jewel Barbaro's for the taking (Ryan O'Halloran, May 20, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

A field of nine will go to post at 6:15 p.m. for the 1 3/16-mile race. Barbaro's main competition figures to be Brother Derek (3-1), who will start to Barbaro's left, and Sweetnorthernsaint (4-1), who will start to Barbaro's right.

While trainers Dan Hendricks and Michael Trombetta are confident their colts can improve on their Derby performances -- dead heat for fourth and up-the-track seventh, respectively -- it's a given that if Barbaro does the best he can possibly do, everybody is running for second money.

"Two weeks rest isn't what a trainer wants for his horse, and it isn't what a horse wants," said Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Like Now. "But he's probably superior enough to overcome a lot of adversity, and he's probably good enough to get by all of us."

Said Diabolical trainer Steve Klesaris: "He just toyed with the Derby field. He's better than this field."

Like Now and Diabolical are two of six newcomers to the Triple Crown quest. The best of the bunch are the lightly raced Bernardini (2-for-3 lifetime) and Like Now, who is expected to take the early lead.

Barbaro should be right behind him. In each of his six races (all wins), he has been first or second at the race's halfway point. And once jockey Edgar Prado asks for acceleration, Barbaro should be ready to go, given the fact he won the Derby with seeming ease.

If he does fly down the lane, it would lend even more credence to Matz's winter/spring plan of spacing Barbaro's races out. He had eight weeks before the Florida Derby and five weeks off before the Kentucky Derby. Today is the real litmus test.

"He probably isn't as fresh as he was before the Derby, but Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint are in the same boat," Matz said. "But he's a big, strong horse, and I'm sure he's going to hold his own."

Barbaro leading the parade (JIM O'DONNELL, 5/20/06, Chicago Sun-Times)
Time is almost up, crabs are down and the vans are finally in for the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes.

Like Boy Scouts arriving for a golden weekend jamboree, a final phalanx of five contenders for the second jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Friday afternoon. Most prominent of the fashionably late was Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro, who was vanned the 60 miles from the plush Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., for today's mile-and-three-sixteenths classic.

The impressive son of Dynaformer arrived in good shape, according to trainer Michael Matz, and was in the process of being bet down to 1-2 atop the field of nine in early-bird wagering.

Said Matz: ''Nothing really changes for us. We still have to beat the horses that we did last time. I just hope that it's a cleanly run race and the best horse wins.''

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2006 8:22 AM

As Dana Carvey used to say, "Not gonna happen."

Posted by: pchuck at May 20, 2006 10:44 AM

Of course, the size of the triple crown race purses is peanuts next to the stud fees that'll be earned by the winner(s). No?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 20, 2006 10:58 AM

Btw: is there any chance that the Preakness and Belomont will come up someday with drinks to challenge the Mint Julep? The current offerings are, how do you say it?, Gay.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 20, 2006 11:01 AM

Those who can't, end up in Enumclaw.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 20, 2006 11:23 AM

A sad race it was!

Posted by: Dave W at May 20, 2006 9:41 PM

More like a funeral than a race. I hope the poor horse survives.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 20, 2006 9:45 PM