RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The second jewel in horse racing's Triple Crown, the Preakness, will run tomorrow in Baltimore. The three top finishers in the Kentucky Derby will race again, along with six other horses. But much of the attention will be on a horse that won't be there.
Barbaro suffered a disastrous injury at the start of last year's Preakness. He shattered his right hind leg and, despite an intense effort to save him, he was euthanized earlier this year. Barbaro belong to Gretchen and Roy Jackson. They and their famous horse will be honored at this year's Preakness. Gretchen Jackson joined us from her home in West Grove, Pennsylvania.
Welcome to the program.
Ms. GRETCHEN JACKSON (Former Owner of Barbaro): Thank you very much.
MONTAGNE: I imagine you might have mixed feelings about returning to this year's Preakness.
Ms. JACKSON: Yes, I do. It's an honor to be there. And some of the events we're looking forward to. And of course I miss Barbaro all the time.
MONTAGNE: When you look at this year's horses, do they compare?
Ms. JACKSON: I can't be objective at all. Nothing compares to Barbaro. You know, I'd like to see a Triple Crown winner. I'd like to go for Street Sense. He provides us with that thrill. At the same time, I love Hard Spun because he's a local horse bred by friends. And then I love Curlin. He's wonderful.
MONTAGNE: All of those are top finishers in this year's Kentucky Derby.
Ms. JACKSON: That's correct.
MONTAGNE: Talking again about Barbaro, he had two foal brothers.
Ms. JACKSON: That's correct.
MONTAGNE: One's a yearling and one was just born last month. Is it too soon to know how they compare to Barbaro in terms of racing?
Ms. JACKSON: I think so. We'll never know until that gate swings open and they go down the track. You can have the greatest set of long legs, huge lung capacity, a will to run, you just never know. And they've also got to have that huge desire to win. It's a lot that goes into it to get there. And then you've got to have the luck so they don't come down with some flu or lose a shoe in the race or get bumped and taken out of the contest. It's just an amazing thing to win the Kentucky Derby. It truly is.
MONTAGNE: What are the chances that one of these horses will be a champion like Barbaro?
Ms. JACKSON: Gosh, I think it would be a miracle. You know, it was a miracle that we had a horse as good as Barbaro, in our estimation. To have another one would just be incredible. But we haven't given up hope. That doesn't mean we aren't hoping for another champion.
MONTAGNE: In regarding the naming of those two brothers of Barbaro's, our commentator Frank Deford, as I think you know, asked listeners to suggest names for the brothers based on the names of Barbaro's sire and dam - Dynaformer and La Ville Rouge. And we have a clip of Frank reading a few of those names and take a listen here.
FRANK DEFORD: Paint the Town Red, Le Scarlet Dynasty, Burgundy Punch, The Power of Red and Puissance Rouge.
MONTAGNE: Those were just a few of the hundreds of names suggested by MORNING EDITION listeners. What did you end up deciding?
Ms. JACKSON: Nicanor. N-I-C-A-N-O-R. Nicanor. We decided to draw upon the lithograph that we have hanging on our family room wall that we got Barbaro's name from also. We just loved it - six heads of hounds, and they have the most incredible expression. And he's the second hound in from the right.
MONTAGNE: And the foal?
Ms. JACKSON: And the foal we haven't named yet.
MONTAGNE: Oh, so our listeners still have a chance?
Ms. JACKSON: Yes.
MONTAGNE: Thank you for joining us.
Ms. JACKSON: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: Gretchen Jackson and her husband Roy own Nicanor and another yet-to-be-named brother of Barbaro. The beloved horse and its owners will be honored at the Preakness tomorrow in Baltimore.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.