Little Brother

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 29, 2009 in News | No Comments >>

Nicanor, a full brother of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner whose story captivated the racing world for months, will race for the first time either this weekend or next, trainer Michael Matz said Monday.

Nicanor had a solid five-furlong work Sunday at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., and if all goes as planned, the 3-year-old colt will either race on dirt at Gulfstream Park this weekend or in a turf race the weekend of Feb. 7th.

“He’s getting there. Either one of the two,” said Matz, who also was Barbaro’s trainer. “I’m not sure yet. When we get him back to the track, we’ll see how he is.”

A decision will likely come Wednesday, when entries are made for the Saturday card at Gulfstream.

Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado — who also rode Barbaro and called his time aboard the horse “the best trip of my life” — will be aboard Nicanor for the colt’s debut, Matz said. Prado rode Nicanor during a workout two weeks ago at Palm Meadows.

The first three races of Barbaro’s career were on turf before he switched to the dirt for the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream and won, pointing him toward the 2006 Derby.

Barbaro won the Run for the Roses by 6 lengths — the largest victory margin for a Derby winner in 60 years — but saw his racing career come to a dramatic end at the Preakness, when he shattered three bones in his right hind leg in the opening strides of that race.

He defied the odds by surviving for eight months and enduring close to two dozen surgeries before being euthanized because of complications related to laminitis, an often life-threatening problem in horses who shift their weight to one leg in order to keep pressure off another injured limb.

The second anniversary of Barbaro’s death is Thursday, and there’s a certain irony that Nicanor’s debut could come on what will be a bittersweet weekend for Barbaro’s connections — Matz and owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson.

“He has worked like a nice horse,” Matz said. “We just have to see. But yes, I’m excited to have him in the barn right now.”