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If you didn’t get a chance to see Barbaro on Wednesday’s first showing on HBO, make sure to catch one of the replays. This hour-long show is simply outstanding, covering the horse and his connections from the beginning of his life to the sad end. The writing (done by Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated fame) and interviews are excellent, to go along with some terrific behind-the-scenes footage. We all know how the story ends but the show is compelling from the start.

Anyone who believes owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson were trying to save Barbaro only for breeding purposes is way too cynical for my taste. When you see the anguish on their faces and raw emotion in thier voices (along with veterinarian Dr. Dean Richardson) at the news conference announcing that Barbaro had been put down, you understand that this horse was much more to them than a $30 million breeding prospect. Gretchen, in particular, eloquently articulates her love for the horse and why they went to such steps to try to save him. As she says, they didn’t even know if Barbaro was fertile, yet spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to keep him alive.

I thought the best part of the program was when they spoke about the tug of war of emotions when weighing the options of whether to put him down or try more treatment. At one point after laminitis had set in, all parties gathered at the New Bolton Center with the thought that it might be time. However, Barbaro, with that gorgeous eye of his, stood in front of the stall eating peppermints from them, ears pricked while looking alert and comfortable, indicating to them that he still had the will to live.

I felt all along that the horse would tell them if he didn’t want to go on, and that’s exactly what happened. Near the very end there is a scene of Barbaro in the back of the stall, head down, eyes dim, obviously not the same horse who had shown so much class and fighting spirit throughout the eight-month ordeal. Great subject, great show. Makes me realize why I fell in love with this sport.

On Thursday: Two more wins by Michael Baze, who is running away with the jockey race…trainer Paulo Lobo continues his fantastic meet, getting another winner with first-time starter KNEELING’S PRIDE…CAPTAIN KURT came off the bench to impressively win the 7th for Melody Conlon…one winning ticket in the Pick Six for $103,522.

On Wednesday:Â A three-bagger for Baze, two wins for David Flores…eight different trainers went to the winner’s circle…bug boy Tom Foley let another horse get away from him as CHARM N BROAD carved out a suicidal pace before getting run down by odds-on IMAGINE in the 7th. Any kind of rating job and ‘BROAD wins the race at 14-1…it was announced that Darley has purchased the breeding rights to both STREET SENSE and HARD SPUN. Enjoy them while you can, they undoubtedly will be off to the breeding shed at the end of this year. Someone will have to explain to me the logic of retiring these talented horses (like Bernardini) after their 3-year-old seasons. What for? To try to produce more talented horses that can be retired after their sophomore years? At this rate we will never see any of these star 3-year-olds get a chance to develop into great older horses. Makes you appreciate the old geldings like LAVA MAN and THE TIN MAN. We get a chance to follow them and become fans for more than than just a year and a half.

Excellent 11-race card on Saturday (four stakes) and the Belmont Stakes. Should make for a great day of racing. I will be giving a free handicapping seminar at Del Mar’s Surfside Race Place at 11:00 a.m. at the Sports Club Patio on the second floor. Hope to see you there.

To View Free Samples of Wednesday and Thursday Premium Plays, click on the links below: Premium Plays for June 6Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premium Plays for June 7

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