Barbaro Seeks Second Leg of Triple Crown

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is the big favorite in Saturday's Preakness Stakes. Author William Nack tells Linda Wertheimer the latest Triple Crown challenger reminds him a bit of the great Secretariat.

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(Soundbite of Kentucky Derby Announcer)

Unidentified Announcer: And down the sides they come in the Kentucky Derby and Barbaro is running away. It's Edgar Prado aboard and Barbaro...

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, but can he do it again? Barbaro and Jockey Edgar Prado will try again in Baltimore today as they run the million-dollar purse in the Preakness Stakes. Sportswriter William Nack joins us in the studio. He's the author of My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money and the Sporting Life. Also Secretariat: The Making of a Champion. Thank you for coming in, Bill.

Mr. WILLIAM NACK (Sportswriter): Nice to be here.

WERTHEIMER: Now, Barbaro's Kentucky Derby run looked fabulous on television. He won by seven lengths. It seemed effortless. You were there, did you see something that the rest of us might've missed?

Mr. NACK: Well, the one thing that struck me was that his action on the front end, his four legs and his shoulders, the way he raised them and snapped his legs down was reminiscent of Secretariat. I haven't seen a horse with that good front-end run since Secretariat, and it was very exciting to watch him. It was almost a little bit of a deja vu. I'm not saying he is Secretariat, but there were shades of him.

WERTHEIMER: Bill, watching that great big horse kind of put his head down and...

Mr. NACK: That's right.

WERTHEIMER: ...reach forward the way he does, as Secretariat did. Thoroughbreds by definition have interesting parents. So is that what makes Barbaro a cut above the rest, is it his bloodline, is it his trainer, is it his heart, is it his jockey, what do you think?

Mr. NACK: Actually, Bernardini, another horse in here, has probably as good a bloodline as anybody. He was a very expensive horse. The Arabs own him. But there's a bunch of horses in here that should be able to win this race based on pedigree. Barbaro has a tremendous pedigree. He's by Dynaformer, who's a son of the great Roberto...

WERTHEIMER: Right.

Mr. NACK: ...and out of a very good a Carson City mare, who Carson City's by Mr. Prospector. So he's got...

WERTHEIMER: Wow.

Mr. NACK: ...the pedigree. He's got stamina on top and speed on the bottom, and that's a great combination.

WERTHEIMER: What do you expect from him today in Baltimore? The Preakness is a different kind of race.

Mr. NACK: Yeah, it's really different. This is the one race that spooks me more than any of them. It can be the hardest one because the turns aren't tighter, but I think they're flatter, and you know, and they're going to be gunning for this horse, the other jockeys and the other horses. They're going to be gunning for him. He's the target. And if he has good racing luck and he runs back to his Kentucky Derby, I believe he will win. But I believe that Brother Derek, as well as Sweet Northern Saint, are going to be able to test him. They had terrible trips in the Kentucky Derby. And if they have reasonable trips now, they could be very formidable. This horse is not going to win by six of a half unless he is indeed even better than I think he is. And this Bernardini's a good horse too.

WERTHEIMER: But what could get in his way if he's this good? Doesn't he just kind of pop out of front and enjoy it?

Mr. NACK: Yeah, if he can stay clear of traffic. The one great thing about him too is he's got a wonderful jockey. He's got a great pedigree. He's got speed, tactical speed. He can stalk, he can go to the lead, he can come from off of it. He's a very tractable horse. He's not crazy. And one thing that could stop him is that he has never had just two weeks between races. All of his races have been at least 34 days apart.

WERTHEIMER: And he had a really long vacation before the Derby.

Mr. NACK: Exactly, he had five weeks, and now he's got two weeks. Can he turn around in two weeks or will he, as the handicappers say, bounce?

WERTHEIMER: William Nack, thank you very much.

Mr. NACK: Nice being here, Linda.

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