Fair Hill home is Barbaro oasis

Busy Pimlico can wait for Derby winner

Preakness

May 16, 2006|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

ELKTON -- While other Preakness hopefuls await shipping to Maryland from various locations, undefeated Barbaro continues to bask in the pastoral setting of the Fair Hill Training Center.

Trainer Michael Matz indicated yesterday that Barbaro will probably arrive at Stall 40 in the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course, traditionally reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner, on Thursday or Friday, but declined to say whether the horse will get a look at the track before the Preakness.

"I don't think it's a real need that we get on the track," Matz said after Barbaro galloped on Fair Hill's wood-chip surface in the midmorning mist. "At this point, he'll either go down Thursday or Friday. I don't think he'll go down the day of the race."

Since vanning home from Kentucky, Barbaro has lived a calm existence in his own stable, 60 miles away from the on-site hubbub. His regimen has been light, and Matz will not send him through a formal workout before the race.

It doesn't hurt that the son of Dynaformer has a disposition to match his surroundings.

"He's a great horse," said Matz, a 1996 Olympic silver medalist in equestrian competition. "He doesn't do stupid things. A cool customer who doesn't let too many things bother him."

More than anything else, the trainer seems most concerned about bringing back Barbaro with only two weeks between races. Much ado was made about Barbaro's five-week layoff before the Kentucky Derby, but it was hardly a factor as he won a sixth straight by 6 1/2 lengths. Now, he must come back on the shortest rest of his career.

"I think it's going to be difficult, running a 3-year-old off a two-week layoff," said Matz. "But I'm sure Mike Trombetta [trainer of Sweetnorthernsaint] and Dan Hendricks [trainer of Brother Derek] have the same feeling. I'm not alone in that."

Barbaro's days have consisted of a hand-walk and/or a jog and a gallop with exercise rider Peter Brette and grazing in the paddocks near his barn. Because of the wet grass, he did not graze yesterday.

"We just try to go [to exercise] whenever the weather suits," Matz said. "He looked good to me today. Everything has gone as planned."

Matz said the calm setting makes for a quicker recovery from the 1 1/4 -mile test Barbaro underwent in Kentucky. "The peace and quiet will help him,'" he said. "It has advantages."

Barbaro will be seeking to become the seventh horse in the past 10 years to capture the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

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