Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Barbaro Doing Well But Still Robert Frost, Bernardini To Skip Belmont

Barbaro continues to do very well in the 10 days since his hopefully lifesaving surgery, but he still has miles to go before he sleeps. He still has to overcome the threats of infection and/or laminitis, and it will be several months before they will even think about releasing him from the hospital. Hopefully the news on this front will continue to be good.

World's most famout patient gets
a visit from Edgar Prado

Interesting to read in that article linked above that Pimlico officials now think that Barbaro injured his foot by colliding with Brother Derek along the frontstretch. I saw Brother Derek get pulled sharply to the right by Alex Solis during the race, mainly because he was my pick so I was focusing on him. Then on the first replay I thought it looked like they might have clipped legs, but no mention of this was ever made so I just figured that I was baked. Now they seem to think that this in fact happened. If true then at least it puts to rest all of the speculation about Barbaro injuring his foot when he broke through the stall, although the exact nature of the whole thing will never be crystal clear.

In other news, Preakness winner Bernardini is skipping the Belmont to rest and take a shot at some of the midsummer races. He doesn't have much of a foundation (# of races run), so 2 grueling triple crown races in 3 weeks is a big ask for him after only racing 3 times prior to his Preakness romp. Many horsemen would take the aggressive (not to mention spotlight-laden) route and run him back in the Belmont, so it is interesting that Albertini & Sheikh Mohammed are going the conservative route. I am thinking that they are looking at things and prioritizing the season ending Breeders Cup Classic in October, so everything they do for the rest of the year will be with the purpose of preparing him for that, and they probably feel that running back in the Belmont might serve to burn the horse out a bit. As a fan it kind of sucks, but you have to respect them doing what they feel is best for the horse rather than what is best for their own egos/exposure/status/possible celebrity.

We'll have to wait until the Travers or Haskell
to see him run again

So that leaves the Belmont without much marquee power, and without the Derby or Preakness winner for only the 2nd time since 1970 (2000 was the other), and without a compelling storyline, all of which will also probably mean without high ratings as well. The Belmont, New York Racing Association, and ABC cannot be too thrilled about this, since the Belmont broke off from the other triple crown races to negotiate its own TV deal with ABC which starts this year.

So where does that leave us for the Belmont? It should still be an interesting race, with Derby 3rd and 4th place finishers Steppenwolfer and Jazil, respectively, as well as Baffert Derby flop Bob and John and 3rd place Preakness finisher Hemingway's Key, who famously ran huge in the Preakness to save his balls from being chopped off.

Sunriver: Suddenly the horse to beat?

The favorite however will probably be Sunriver, who got shut out of the Derby because he was 22nd on the graded stakes earnings list and only the top 20 get in when there is a full field. Many horsepeople thought he could have been very dangerous in the Derby, and he proved his quality by passing on the Preakness and instead winning the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont 2 weeks ago. The Peter Pan is the major prep race for the Belmont at Belmont Park. Given the loss of Barbaro, and Bernardini, Brother Derek, and others resting, Sunriver will jump up from live longshot to probably favorite. More next week as the Belmont, to be run Saturday June 10th, gets closer.

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