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We were told from the day of his horrific breakdown on May 20 that it could come to this. After months of surgeries, high and lows, and guarded optimism, BARBARO was put down today after his discomfort became too much to manage. I think Steve Haskin’s article in The Bloodhorse says it best:


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Steve Haskin: Reflections on Barbaro and His Fight for Life
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: January 29, 2007
Last Updated: January 29, 2007
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On the morning of Jan. 29, Dr. Dean W. Richardson, head of surgery at New Bolton Medical Center, made the somber announcement most everyone had been prepared to hear more than eight months earlier. Barbaro had been euthanized. The wave of grief that was anticipated back then now came swiftly and unexpectedly.

After so many months of hope and high expectations, Barbaro’s fight for life and the miracle story he had written were over. There would be no happy ending to this fairy tale. One did not have to hear Richardson’s words to know they were as heavy as the millions of hearts around the world that had embraced Barbaro and his struggle to survive against all odds.

What made the news of Barbaro’s death even harder to accept was that only a month earlier, talk had begun about the colt’s possible release from New Bolton. When Richardson, although still guarded, said that Barbaro’s release could come in the “not so distant future,” it brought a wave of elation and optimism. The horse was happy, eating, and enjoying his daily walks and grazing sessions. Christmas brought a deluge of cards and gifts to New Bolton, and spirits were high.

Then, virtually overnight, the colt suffered a “significant setback” when some new separation of the hoof was found requiring additional removal of tissue, and a pall once again hung over the Kennett Square clinic, as it did back in May and again in July when Barbaro developed a severe case of laminitis that would ultimately lead to his death.

Following surgery to remove more of the left hind hoof, Barbaro “improved significantly” and the crisis appeared to have been averted. But it was soon followed by another when a “deep subsolar abscess” developed on the colt’s right hind foot, which necessitated yet another surgical procedure on Jan. 27, in which two steel pins were placed through the cannon bone to support an external skeletal fixation, which would eliminate all weight bearing on the foot and give it a chance to heal. Barbaro, despite being placed under anesthesia well over a dozen times since his arrival at New Bolton, remarkably came out of this latest complex and risky procedure eating and in good spirits.

But this time Barbaro was beyond all hope, and Dr. Richardson and owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson were forced to come to the realization that they had run out of miracles.

Having witnessed live the shocking breakdown of Ruffian and the horrific spills of Go For Wand and Pine Island, it is difficult to come to terms with the question: which is worse, watching the quick, relatively painless deaths of those magnificent fillies or riding the roller coaster of emotions that continued for more than eight months with Barbaro, ultimately leading to the same fate?

The answer, at least in Barbaro’s case, is the latter. The colt proved that greatness does not have to be achieved only on the racetrack. His incredible will and indefatigable spirit kept him alive long enough to show the world just how much emotion is capable of pouring out of one’s heart for a Thoroughbred racehorse, and how far the field of veterinary medicine has come. He made a hero out of an unknown veterinarian, whose dedication, wit, and wisdom turned him into a James Herriot-like figure to millions of people.

Rather than dwell on the outcome, it is best to concentrate on the heroic efforts that were made to save a horse that lived eight months longer than he should have. It was not disease or injury that ended Barbaro’s life, it was recovery. If there is a flaw in nature’s power of healing, it is that it cannot be applied to the Thoroughbred, to whom the words stationary and prone do not co-exist. Infused with the fiery blood of its ancestors, the Thoroughbred’s impetuous nature sadly is in constant conflict with its fragile legs, and it is that nature that often leads to its demise.

Although Barbaro had to endure a great deal of physical and mental anguish, he also experienced the ultimate in human kindness and compassion, while being pampered like the noblest of kings. And he leaves behind a legacy that far transcends his stunning victory in the Kentucky Derby.

Like everyone else, I was prepared to bid a tearful goodbye to Barbaro immediately following the Preakness, and then again in July when laminitis appeared. I was prepared yet again in early and then late January. I no longer have to prepare for the worst. After eight months, during which time the horse’s struggle made national headlines around the world, Barbaro’s ordeal finally is over.

Cervantes said, “The guts carry the feet, not the feet the guts.” Barbaro’s guts carried his feet to victory after victory. But it carried his heart a lot farther.

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Yesterday at Santa Anita: PUSSYCAT DOLL toyed with her foes in the Grade I Santa Monica and ATTIMA took the downhill Wishing Well Handicap, giving Julio Canani and Victor Espinoza the first of their two wins together. They also took down the finale with GRAFTON as Espinoza narrowed the gap to three behind leading man Gomez, who was aboard ‘DOLL for her easy victory. Jorge Chavez won two on the card.

Thanks to readers Ira, Harry and Terry for clearing up my comments on the BC Pick Six scandal in ’02 vis a vis Lewiston, Maine. The Pick Six tickets (actually one $12 ticket that singled the first four winners, then went all-all in the last two legs) were purchased at the Catskill, NY OTB. Who could forget the branch manager (whose name escapes me) making the infamous comment that the winner was a good customer who played there all the time. One of the great lies in racing history.

Lewiston, Maine was the betting hub where many of the huge, late odds-changing bets were emanating from a few years ago. Remember the day at Hollywood Park when a winning horse went from 9/2 to 2/5 as the race was running? Thanks guys for keeping me on my toes.

See you Wednesday.

To view a Free Sample of yesterday’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 28

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This is a sport where the little guy can dream big. Where a homebred 7-year-old son of Memo can turn around a six-race losing streak and parlay a couple of solid sloppy-track wins up north into winning a million dollar race on Sunshine Millions Day. If this all sounds a little hard to believe, imagine how owner-breeder Mike Willman (in partnership with Nikki Hunt) must be feeling tonight as his MCCANN’S MOJAVE scored a 30-1 upset in the SM Classic at Gulfstream. For those who don’t know Mike, he is the publicity director at Santa Anita and host of the Sunday edition of the “Thoroughbred Los Angeles” radio show on KLAA 830. And the intertrack TV simulcast host at Del Mar. And works the Barretts sale, among other gigs. In other words, Willman is one of the true work horses in our industry. So congratulations to him and his partner, who owned the dam Joni U. Bar, and have now banked well over a million bucks with this rejuventated old horse. In a game made of dreams, what could be better than this? Next stop, Santa Anita Handicap?

With a $500,000 Pick Six carryover on the line, the fans came out in droves and bet with both hands. On track attendance of 36,355…total handle of $20.3 million for the card, of which $2.1 million was spent chasing the Pick Six. After odds-on LAVA MAN took down the Turf, five double digit winners were to follow, which meant only three winning tickets worth over $465,000 each. Gotta believe the three winners singled LAVA MAN but I don’t know that for sure.

Loved the way SMOKEY STOVER won the Sprint, blowing by BORDONARO like he was standing still. What a great story for winning connections Harry Aleo and Greg Gilchrist, who lost the outstanding sprinter LOST IN THE FOGÂ a few months ago. Who could have believed they would get another chance at a horse of this caliber, but he looks like the best sprinter in the country right now.

JOINT EFFORT made short work of Grade I winner TAKE D’ TOUR in the Distaff and MISTICAL PLAN ran down promising TIZ ELEMENTAL at the wire in the Oaks.

Three winners on the card for Corey Nakatani, two for David Flores.

Thanks to those who came out to my seminar at Surfside Race Place in Del Mar today. And the best part is that I finally had a good day, giving out the early Pick for $692 on a $72 ticket and nailing the 10th race trifecta with my top three horses, returning $309 for each $1 combination.

What will we do tomorrow without a carryover?

To view a Free Sample of today’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 27

Pick Six carryover No. 11 heading into the 10-race Sunshine Millions extravaganza. A double carryover of more than $504,000 into a strong card. Four ‘Millions simulcast races from Florida. Strap in for the first Sensory Overload Saturday of the year.

LAVA MAN will be the obvious single at an odds-on price in the first leg (5th race) but what about a second single? We’ll have to do the work tonight and come up with one.

I will be hosting a free handicapping seminar at the Surfside Race Place in Del Mar tomorrow morning at 10:45 a.m. The seminar will be held upstarts in the Tack Room and I will cover the 10 Santa Anita races and also touch briefly on the other four ‘Millions races from Gulfstream Park. Come by and say hello.

Two winners today for apprentice rider William Antongeorgi and leading man Gomez.

Trainer Barry Abrams got off the schneid yesterday and came right back to post a huge upset with MAMA LULA ($72.20) in the 4th. Steve Knapp won another race with longshot I’MALADYTAK as his barn continues to go well right now.

Tomorrow begins the first MAGNA 5, with a guaranteed pool of $500,000. Also, the early Pick 4 starts in the second race and is being called the Sunshine Millions Pick 4. The late Pick 4 (races 7-10) looks like it will offer more wagering value.

Two key races to keep in my mind: the 4th race on Jan. 10 has already produced next-out winners MAMA LULA and I’MALADYTAK. And the 5th race on Jan. 4 has produced class-dropping maiden winners BOUND TO GET EVEN and PAUL’S HOPE.

A number of readers commented on yesterday’s post regarding Lewiston, Maine and the BC Pick Six scandal of ’02. More on this later…have to do some more fact checking.

Good luck tomorrow. My head is already swimming.

To view a Free Sample of today’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 26

In yesterday’s Blog post, I said that the stewards’ disqualification of CONVEYOR’S ANGEL denied a three-day Pick Six carryover. Wrong. Jack Disney of the publicity department got a phone call from a guy in New York claiming that he had used ‘ANGEL and would have been the holder of the only winning ticket. You know how New Yorkers are. Well, after checking it out with the mutuel department, turns out the guy was telling the truth. He was the lone ticket alive to ‘ANGEL while also having DQ “winner” SINGALONG, making him one of six winners for $400,00 instead of a very rich single-ticket holder for $2.4 million. Quite a difference, although they won’t have to take up a collection for the guy any time soon. By the way, his ticket was one of three coming through the infamous Lewiston, Maine hub (you remember the Breeders’ Cup Pick Six scandal of ’02).

Reportedly, one of the winning tickets was a $16 sheet purchased at Del Mar’s Surfside Race Place. I’m scheduled to do a free handicapping seminar there on Saturday (10:45 a.m. in the upstairs Tack Room) but if true, this person should be doing the seminar and I’ll take notes from the audience.

By the way, there is yet another carryover (over $100,000) into Friday’s card. This one is the 10th of the meet after five double digit winners (including $60 debut winner CAPT. SPARROW in the 4th) in the P6 sequence. It’s become exceedingly difficult to pick a winner out here right now. Favorites are hitting at about 29%, with public handicappers (like this one) struggling to get more than one or two a day.

Steve Knapp and Jon Court teamed up for two winners on the card as Knapp has quietly moved up the trainer standings. He now has six wins at the meet, five more than Richard Mandella, who finally got off the schneid today with maiden breaker FABULOUS SUN.

They absolutely crawled down the hill in the 7th as front runners PURE AMERICAN and I’LL PREY FOR YOU battled it out on the front end. I don’t recall ever seeing as slow an opening quarter as :23 coming down the dip.

Noble Threewitt will saddle the final horse of his 73-year CAREER tomorrow when THREEATONCE goes in the 5th.

Word is that REVVED UP is not coming out for trainer Christophe Clement. He looked like the main danger to LAVA MAN in the Sunshine Millions Turf on Saturday.

To view a Free Sample of today’s Premium Plays, click on the line below: Premium Plays for Jan. 25

With a carryover of more than $723,000 into Wednesday, and an additonal $3.1 bet into the pool yesterday, Pick Six mania was in full swing at Santa Anita. First leg, $19 winner. Second leg, $20 winner. Third leg, $42 winner. Was this thing really going to carry again? Finally a “logical” winner when favorite ANTIFREEZETTE took the 6th race. Then the pivotal race in the series, the $75,000 added Tuzla Handicap. When CONVEYOR’S ANGEL swept by the field to “win” at 48-1, we were looking at a truly monstrous pool for Thursday. However, the stewards put up the inquiry sign and looked at the replays for at least 10 minutes. ‘ANGEL had come in slightly in mid-stretch (I would call it one lane) and bothered MOVIE STAR, who was being outrun at the time and would then clip heels slightly behind the winner. The stewards took down ‘ANGEL and placed her behind ‘STAR, which moved up SINGALONG at a much more realistic $9.00 payoff. When TONY MONTANA won the last at $14.40, there were six winning ticktets at slightly more than $400,000 apiece. So long $2.4 million carryover.

I agreed with the call. It was borderline and press box observers were divided. I got a couple emails from fans who felt they had been robbed. But I thought the foul was enough to warrant the change, although ‘ANGEL was best and ‘STAR was fading anyway. I thought the stewards got it right, although I’m not sure why they need to look at replays for so long. I say take a three-minute hourglass, turn it over, and make your decision by the time the sands have drained to the bottom. Read the book Blink and you realize experts in their fields make decisions almost instantaneously. They don’t ponder, re-think and agonize. Stewards, I think you got it right this time, but can we please speed up the process?

Victor Espinoza won four on the card (including the DQ win) and narrowed the gap behind leader Garrett Gomez.

Went to the Eclipse Awards on Monday night and had a great time. Although many have commented that the ceremoney was a bore, it was my first time and I had a blast. An open bar has a way of doing that. One disappointment was that Gomez did not win the Eclipse for top rider. He actually finished a distant second to Edgar Prado, which shows how much weight the Barbaro saga carried this year.

To view a Free Sample of yesterday’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 24

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For the ninth time in 20 days of racing, we have a Pick Six carryover. Heading into Wednesday’s card there will be a massive double carryover of more than $723,000. Why all the carryovers? Two reasons: full fields and extremely competitive races. Plus, I think the switch from Cushion Track at Hollywood Park to the traditional dirt at Santa Anita has made for some form reversals. Toss into the mix that traditionally strong barns like Doug O’Neill and Jeff Mullins are struggling right now and all the ingredients are there for a perfect storm of longshot winners.

Yesterday, six more double digit winners, including the last four winners on the card. I could definitely see trying to beat odds-on TIME SQUARED in the 6th race and heavy favorite BOBOMAN in the feature. But coming up with SUBLET in the finale? That was tough.

Two winners each for Garrett Gomez and John Sadler, who is now tied with Baffert at the top of the trainer standings. They teamed up with LARGO in the 1st and BACHELORETTE ONE in the 5th. Gomez is now running away in the jockey race, extending his lead to nine over Espinoza.

One rider who flies under the radar but quietly is having a strong meet is Danny Sorenson, who has won a handful of races and been on the board consistently, usually with long-priced horses.

ONE OFF ran down NOTABLE GUEST late to take down the San Marcos Stakes while BOBOMAN (who I thought received a strange, too-close-to-the-pace ride by Gomez) floundered at the top of the stretch. Although Richard Mandella certainly deserves his place in racing’s Hall of Fame, is there any less productive barn on the circuit considering his stock? For months his stable has underachieved, winning at a low percentage while consistently blowing with horses priced at under 5-1. He is currently winless at the SA meet.

The 6th race for maidens was bizarre. SPANKEY COME HOME drifted out badly into the stretch, taking TIAGO out with him. TIAGO got straightened out to make the lead in deep stretch but it was shocking to see SPANKEY re-rally (despite drifting out again badly in mid-stretch) for the “win”. His number had to come down (although electrifying rider Gerry Olguin seemed surprised) but it doesn’t say much about those who finished behind him, including overhyped Biancone-trainee TIME SQUARED.

Rest up and get fresh money. Wednesday should be a blast.

To view a Free Sample of yesterday’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 21

I took yesterday off, so the only things I know are that Garrett Gomez won five races to extend his lead in the jockey race and there is a Pick Six carryover of more than $162,000.

Watched one race on computer and it looked like SUPERSTAR JUSTIN had a brutal trip in 6th race. He was blocked down inside and never had a chance to run through the lane under Michael Baze.

Note to radio listeners: “Thoroughbred Digest” with Jay Privman has changed names, and moved to a different station at a different time. We are now partnering up with Mike Willman and Kurt Hoover on KLAA 830 at 9:00 a.m. (Pacific). Jay’s show on Saturdays, Mike’s show on Sundays.

Good luck today!

To view a Free Sample of yesterday’s Premium Plays click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 20

Sometimes in this business, the workload overwhelms you. There is really no end to the amount of work one can do: tapes, charts, workout analysis, pedigree profiles, etc. In order to stay of sound mind and body, cuts have to be made. So for the last two days, the daily blog postings were forgone in order to catch up on other things, including a USC-Arizona basketball game on Thursday night.

So let’s review:

On Friday, with a $100,000 Pick Six carryover (seventh of the meet) to shoot at, there were two winning tickets worth $242,000 each. And that was with the day’s only favorite, TALKING TO DEVON, winning the finale. Had the runner-up gotten there, we would have had a huge double carryover into today’s very difficult card.

Richard Migliore is definitely making an impression, winning three races yesterday to move up to fourth in the rider standings. He also has landed the mount on BORDONARO for next week’s Sunshine Millions Sprint.

Not to belabor the point, but after watching Alex Solis over the past few months, I predicted to some press box colleagues that he would not be in the top 10 at this meet. So far I’m right. Solis has fallen out of the standings (five winners) and has very limited business.

Pick 4 tough beat: Yesterday I put together a suggested $32 late Pick 4 play on my Premium Play selection sheet. After missing the first leg (POWER SHIFT ran second and LAINIES LION never had a chance to run in the stretch–he’s a bet-back next time) I had the next three winners, including IGRAINE ($17.60) in a race where I doubled with heavy odds-on favorite INDY’S WINDY. Had players come back in the late Pick 3 (for just $8), the return was a hefty $167. After all, isn’t that what the late Pick 3 is for? In case you’re blown out of the Pick 3? Then there is always the late DD just in case…

Back to INDY’S WINDY. After losing twice previously as the favorite, the public hammered her again yesterday. I said on my weekly Friday (11:45-noon) segment on HRTV that she was NOT a P6 “single”. She washed out badly coming on to the track and was life-and-death to hold third with more than $100,000 bet on her in the show pool. Had she blown, there would have been some huge show payoffs on the board. IGRAINE was an impressive winner of the race and appears to have a nice future for David Hofmans in the 3-year-old filly division.

DECLAN’S MOON ships north to run at Golden Gate today. If he can’t beat this field it would seem time to think about retiring the gelded former juvenile champion.

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On Thursday, six double-digit winners as the favorites got blanked. Three winners for Garrett Gomez, which put him back on a clear lead in the rider standings. Training wins by Sean McCarthy (first-time starter LEMON CHIFFON) and Pletcher assistant Michael “Whitey” McCarthy (FOREST CODE). No relation between the two. Could Whitey be related to anyone?

Great post-race interview by Kurt Hoover with former Dodger centerfielder Willie Davis (known as the 3-Dog in his playing days), along with former teammates Tommy Davis and “Sweet” Lou Johnson. Hoover is the best in the business: knowledgeable, informed, great memory, good questioner and easy to listen to. And I’m not just saying that because he’s one of my best friends at the track and an avid reader of this Blog. ESPN sorely misses him on their racing telecasts.

To view Free Samples of Premium Plays from last two days, click on the links below: Premium Plays for Jan. 19Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premium Plays for Jan. 18

Wow. That was my reaction as second-time starter EXHALE rolled through the lane against eight overmatched maidens in Monday’s third race. He had run a huge second in his debut behind Notional at Oak Tree but missed some time and only showed three recorded works since Nov. 26. However, the $800,000 son of Millennium Wind dominated here while stopping the clock in 1:15.4 for C R K Stable and trainer John Sadler. He beat nothing but you had to like the way he did it. Plans are to put this one on the Derby Trail, so Corey Nakatani might have some difficult decisions to make along the way (he is Paul Reddam’s main man and Reddam owns a three-headed monster in Notional, Liquidity and Great Hunter). C R K Stable (Lee and Susan Searing of Arcadia) also got the money in the Santa Ynez as JUMP ON IN ($410,000 purchase) was an easy winner at 4/5 odds for the same trainer-jockey combination.

No jock is riding better than David Flores, who racked up four winners on the card, moving him up to third in the rider standings. He is riding with complete confidence, making all the right decisions, and looks great finishing. He leads all jockeys with six stakes win (one more than Garrett Gomez) so far at the meet.

Update: Martin Garcia, who was thrown hard to the ground in Sunday’s 6th race (see details in yesterday’s Worth The Wait post), was kept in the hospital for overnight observations. He accepted no mounts on Thursday’s card.

Favorites are doing a bit better, now hitting at 31% after 16 days of racing.

I have to take a moment here to pat myself on the back for picking 9th race winner BEYOND LOADED ($21.80) and nailing the trifecta for $1,169 on my Premium Play selections (see Free Sample at bottom of page). The Sise-trained gelding was coming off a very impressive maiden win but was trying winners and turf for the first time. He came away nicely despite racing 4-wide under Alex Bisono, who was winning his first race of the meet.

Exhale, we get two days off after six straight days of racing…first post at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday.

To view a Free Sample of today’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 15

Sometimes incidents happen on the track that snap us out of our gambling/racing mode and back to the reality that this is a dangerous sport for both humans and horses. Such an incident occurred after today’s 6th race when first-time starter SWEET N SALTY went down about 100 yards past the finish line. After dueling through blazing early fractions, ‘SALTY appeared to go down from exhaustion. Her rider, Martin Garcia, hit the ground hard and was taken from the track by ambulance. Another horse, QUITE A STORMKAT, crashed into the fallen horse, unseating rider Jose Valdivia. The latter pair were okay. We still don’t have word on Garcia. But SWEET N SALTY was prone on the track for what seemed like an eternity (46 mintues to be exact). Her trainer (Brian Koriner), veterinarians, trackman Steve Wood, even Jack Van Berg tried everything in their power to comfort the filly and eventually get her to her feet. But when the “curtain” came out (used to shield the fans from the unpleasantness of seeing a horse being euthanized) things looked very ominous. However, the filly kept fighting, trying on a few occasions to get to her feet. Finally, after the vets had injected her with fluids, ‘SALTY got up and walked back to the barn under her own power while getting a round of applause from the fans. A good ending to a potentially disastrous situation.

Nearly $1 million was bet in the Pick Six today chasing the $178,000 carryover. Hit four of six again on today’s suggested $144 Pick Six ticket, missing both “singles” (POSITIVELYCHARMING in 6th and CANTABRIA in 8th). Those are the two that you feel most confident about. Both were lousy.

Even though CANTABRIA ran poorly (obviously didn’t handle the main track like she did the Cushion Track across town) Frankel still got the stakes win, his fifth of the meet, when SUGAR SHAKE went wire-to-wire in the El Encino.

Today’s races were won by nine different trainers and jockeys, which shows the depth of SoCal racing lately.

Julio Canani’s horses are running huge right now, as are Frank Monteleone’s. Both won a race today and Canani also finished second with KRIS’ SIS in the El Encino.

Special holiday racing card tomorrow for Martin Luther King Jr. Day…first post at 12:30.

To view a Free Sample of today’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Jan. 14

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