Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Barbaro's baby brother could be Va. Derby-bound

If you didn't have enough reason to watch and care about the July 18 Virginia Derby-G2 at Colonial Downs, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association's blog states that Nicanor -- 3-year-old brother of the brilliant but ill-fated Barbaro -- has been pointed to the race by trainer Michael Matz.

Barbaro, as anyone not living under a rock (and a few who have been) would know was the unbeaten champion of the Kentucky Derby in 2007, but suffered a grievous injury in the early stages of the Preakness Stakes and was retired to fight for his life. He died more than eight months later, in January 2007, at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School's New Bolton Center, where he had been treated ever since breaking his leg in the Preakness.

Nicanor started his career with three races on the dirt without winning, but rocketed to impressive victories on the grass in his next two starts. That's unsurprising, considering Barbaro broke his maiden and was a graded-stakes winner on turf before switching to the main track for the Derby trail. I happen to believe that, had he lived to prove it and been given future races on the lawn, Barabro would've been known as being at least as good a grass horse as he was a dirt-runner and probably better.

The Virginia Derby has become one of the best turf races in the country apart from the Breeders' Cup, and should soon have earned recognition as a Grade 1 race. It's last five winners are Gio Ponti, Red Giant, Go Between, English Channel and Kitten's Joy, all went on to be Grade 1 winners, the latter pair champions. Colonial Downs is an absolutely beautiful, pastoral place to visit and it's quite near Colonial Williamsburg and not too far from Virginia Beach for those looking to make a week of things.

And this year, the Virginia Derby could feature Nicanor.

I'm scheduled to work that Saturday at home North Carolina. ... Crud!

But now what's your excuse for not going?


  1. Ya know, as well as he's done on turf makes me wonder why Michael didn't put him there in the first place.

  2. As I've also noted! ... I don't really recall, but I think maybe one of his earlier races was washed off the turf down in Florida over the winter. But I might be wrong.


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