2006 Preakness Stakes Recap
|Bernardini Brilliant in Preakness Victory,Tears Flow as Barbaro Breaks Down |
by Ultimatecapper Horse Handicapper Kenneth Strong
Baltimore, May 20, 2006 – A brilliant performance byBernardini to win the 131st Preakness Stakeswas severely marred by the catastrophic breakdown of heavily favoredTriple Crown hopeful Barbaro at Pimlico RaceCourse on Saturday.
After breaking through the gate before the race, the ultra-sharp Barbaro was reloaded only to pull up lame a few hundred yards into the actual race. Fans gasped, cried and screamed as Barbaro continued down the stretch on three legs in full view of the grandstand, his right-hind leg flailing like a windmill below the ankle as jockey Edgar Prado tried to pull him up safely.
Fortunately Prado was able to pull up the game runner, who was still trying to continue despite having fractured his right hind leg in three places, as the remainder of the field continued into the first turn. Upon later examination Barbaro was found to have sustained fractures to his right-hind cannon bone (above the ankle) his long pastern bone (below the ankle) and his sesamoid bones (underneath the ankle). Barbaro was later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center for emergency surgery.
What had been expected to be a sizzling rematch between heavyweights Brother Derek, Sweetnorthernsaint and Barbaro actually turned into a horror show in which none of the contenders performed as expected.
Longshot speedster Like Now shot to the lead early under pressure from Sweetnorthernsaint through fractions of 23.21, 46.49 and 1:10.24 and held on until late in the final turn. At that point Sweetnorthernsaint took a short lead before easily shaking his pace rival to open a clear lead nearing the quarter pole but it was already evident who was going to win this race.
Bernardini, who had received a beautifully patient ride from Javier Castellano, was in full gear and flying at the leader with a bullet move that would carry him to a 3 ½-lenghth lead at the eighth pole. Sweetnorthernsaint got the mile in 1:35.73 but shied at the 3/16ths pole as Bernardini surged by him and drew out to win by 5 ¼ lengths, stopping the timer in 1:54.65.
Sweetnorthernsaint, who was later found to have grabbed a quarter, was game in defeat, digging in with everything he had all the way to the wire. At the wire he was six lengths in front of third-place finisher Hemingways Key. Brother Derek, who had apparently been rattled early by the breakdown of Barbaro, never looked comfortable at any point in the race. He broke a step slow before checking off the heels of Barbaro and then moved up to stalk the pacesetters from the outside but he certainly was not striding out the way he had been while winning everything in California. Obviously over the top, Brother Derek faded from the quarter pole, finishing fourth, four lengths behind Hemingways Key a horse he would have annihilated at his best.
Greelys Legacy finished fifth, seven lengths behind Bother Derek, followed by longshots Platinum Couple, Like Now, and Diabolical.
Now a perfect 4-for-4, Bernardini returned $27.80, $9.40, $5.80 across the board. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the former assistant to Bill Mott during Cigars 16-race win streak, Bernardini is by Belmont winner A.P. Indy out of Cara Rafaela, a Grade 1 winning daughter of Quiet American. Having previously won the Withers-G3 at Aqueduct for his owners, Darley Stable, Bernardini increased his lifetime earnings to $710,480 with his Preakness win.
What should have been a raucous celebration in the winners circle turned into a rather somber affair, as the winning connections and all others involved in the race including trainers, jockeys, owners and grooms, all voiced their sympathies for Barbaro.
Emotions overcame, hugs among competitors and connections took place and tears flowed freely. All sentiments were the same – nobody likes to win this way.
Update – May, 22, 2006 – Barbaro underwent over four hours of surgery on May 21 at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. The surgery, which resulted in 23 screws and a locking compression plate being implanted into Barbaro’s right-hind leg, was performed by the hospital’s chief of surgery, Dr. Dean Richardson, and was being described as a guarded success. The gallant and undefeated Kentucky Derby winner was standing on all four legs eating hay in a 14-by-14 foot stall in the hospital’s intensive care unit as of 9.p.m Sunday night. Barbaro’s chances of survival, however, were still being described as a “coin toss” by the doctors who worked on him.