Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro will face only a relative handful of opponents in Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico -- a far cry from the full, 20-horse Kentucky Derby field he embarrassed two weeks earlier.
Some potential rivals aren't anxious for another try at the budding star. Others are hoping for less troubled trips than they got at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Bob Baffert is among those looking elsewhere. None of his three potential Preakness starters will be running at Old Hilltop.
"We were tempted to run in the Preakness (with Saturday's Lone Star Derby winner Wanna Runner)," Baffert said. "I told Mike (owner Mike Pegram) if Barbaro hadn't run a race like that -- if it had been a race like last year -- we'd take a chance. But that horse is pretty special and this horse here needed time to develop."
Baffert also withdrew Point Determined and Bob and John from Preakness consideration, saying Point Determined was never thought of as a Pimlico contender. "If Barbaro were to defect on Monday, then I'd run Bob and John, but they are going back Monday to California to prepare for the Belmont," he said.
Brother Derek, which dead-heated for fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and Sweetnorthernsaint, which finished seventh as the pari-mutuel favorite, will be back for another try at Barbaro.
"We just hope to get a better trip," said Sweetnorthernsaint's trainer, Mike Trombetta. His colt was bumped at the start of the Derby and shuffled back.
Brother Derek, which has never lost in California nor won outside the Golden State, will have his typical, easy regimen up the Preakness, said trainer Dan Hendricks.
"It's a little by design, to have a fresh 3-year-old," Hendricks said Sunday from his California barn. "Last year we started doing this and I found out it worked really well, to be light out of his races. It doesn't require a lot of works between races."
Also confirmed for the second jewel of the Triple Crown are Gotham Stakes winner Like Now; the Nick Zito-trained Hemingway's Key; and Withers Stakes winner Bernardini. Possibles are non-stakes-winner Diabolical and Federico Tessio victor Ah Day.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Derby champ also was taking life relatively easy at the Fair Hill training center. "It's something they can't take away from him," trainer Michael Matz said. "He'll always be the Kentucky Derby winner. We'll just try to get through this one and go from there."
In weekend racing with potential for this fall's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships:
$5 million Classic, Powered by Dodge
-- Trainer Bob Baffert dropped Wanna Runner into Texas for Saturday's $300,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby and walked off with the $185,000 top prize. Wanna Runner, an Ontario-bred, 3-year-old El Corredor gelding, sat right behind the early pace and then simply took over when asked by jockey Victor Espinoza, winning off by 5 1/4 lengths, ridden out. Wait in Line was next in line and Admiral's Arch finished third. Wanna Runner ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.71. It was the second big ship-in payday in a row for Wanna Runner. In his last start, he won the $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico. Baffert said he took Wanna Runner off the Kentucky Derby trail because he didn't want to push the horse. Then, he said, owner Mike Pegram "has always wanted to go to the Queen's Plate and he's a gelding so we're not trying to make a stallion here. We're just having fun with him. It's fun to go to different tracks."
-- Surf Cat rallied from last in a field of five to win Saturday's $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park by 3 1/2 lengths over Spellbinder. Dixie Meister was third. Surf Cat, a 4-year-old son of Sir Cat, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:40.65 under Alex Solis. "Around the turn, he felt like a train going downhill," Solis said. "He is very powerful, just a great horse. He is way better this year. He's been doing that going short, and he did it again today."
$3 million John Deere Turf
Grey Swallow, the odds-on favorite, stalked the pace in Saturday's $250,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park, went to the lead when asked by jockey Alex Solis and won off by 5 lengths over Brecon Beacon. Runaway Dancer finished third. Grey Swallow, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred son of Daylami, ran the 1 1/2 mile over firm turf in 2:27.33. "He's an ex-champ of Ireland," said winning trainer Dermot Weld of the 2004 Irish Derby winner. "I thought he'd win. That's why he is here." Weld also praised the new Hollywood Park turf course. "They often say Arlington Park in Chicago has the best turf track in America. I think they've got a rival here, now."
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- Siren Lure was squeezed at the start of Saturday's $100,000 Los Angeles Times Handicap at Hollywood Park, gained on the outside during the run down the backstretch and then came between rivals in the final furlong to win by 1 length over the lukewarm favorite, Areyoutalkintome. Prorunner was third. Siren Lure, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Joyeaux Danseur, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:08.57 for jockey Alex Solis. Trainer Art Sherman had been running Siren Lure primarily on turf but the gelding picked up his fourth main-track win. "The timing was right, I guess," Solis said of his ride. "He's a nice little horse."
-- Tiger got the advantage at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park and drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Dark Cheetah. Bishop Hill Court completed the trifecta. Tiger, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Storm Boot, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.49 with Eibar Coa in the irons. Coa said he told trainer Jimmy Jerkens and the owners, "They are going to have a lot of fun with this horse. He showed me in his last race how serious and professional he is. Today, he did everything on his own."
-- Main Executive led most of the way to a 2 1/4-length victory over Millfleet in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) New Providence Stakes at Woodbine. The 4-year-old, Ontario-bred son of Bold Executive dueled for the lead and didn't get clear until the turn, then had little trouble. He finished the 6 furlongs in 1:09.20 with Richard Dos Ramos up and now is unbeaten at four starts at the distance. "There were some very good horses in this race," said trainer Radlie Loney. "But I knew he'd be the horse they had to beat."
$2 million Emirates Airlines Filly & Mare Turf
Ebony Rose rallied three-wide down the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Hilltop Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico by 1 1/4 length over Its Just a Dream. Art Show finished third and the favorite, Saoirse Cat, faded to finish fourth after leading briefly on the turn. Ebony Rose, a Kentucky-bred filly by Bernstein, got the 1 1/16 mile in 1:49.72 under Chris DeCarlo. "We thought she was stakes caliber," said part-owner Gene Mello. "She's come along well and they've done an outstanding job with her."
-- Aussie Rules surged to the lead in deep stretch of Sunday's French Two Thousand Guineas at Longchamp and went on to victory over Marcus Andronicus. Both the top two are sons of Danehill. Stormy River, which led to mid-stretch, held on to take third.
-- Tie Black was awarded first-place money in Sunday's French One Thousand Guineas at Longchamp when the first-finisher, Price Tag, was disqualified for interference in the stretch. Impressionante was placed second because of the foul.
-- Cosmo Bulk got to the front with a furlong left in Sunday's International Cup at Kranji in Singapore and ran on to win by 1 3/4 length over King And King. Bowman's Crossing was third while Godolphin Racing's Valixir was last of 13.
In other weekend racing:
More Than Pretty posted a major upset in Saturday's $100,000 Open Mind Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, rallying from mid-pack to win by 1 length over Handlewoman. Bratt'sstablestar was third and the favorite, Serena's Cat, beat a steady retreat to finish eighth of 10. More Than Pretty, a Kentucky-bred filly by More Than Ready, got the 5 furlongs on "good" turf in 57.14 seconds with Calvin Borel aboard. She is trained by Bernie Flint. "I had to find me some racing room," Borel said of his trip. "So I just let them go on about their business."
Dave settled near the back of an 11-horse field early in Sunday's $100,000 Kingston Stakes for New York-breds, then had to come wide to challenge for the lead at the top of the lane. With Javier Castellano providing the encouragement, Dave then gamely outfinished the favorite, Golden Commander, to win by 1 length. Pa Pa Da was third. Dave, a 5-year-old gelding by Ends Well, ran the 9 furlongs on the "good" inner turf course in 1:49.13.
Lone Star Park
Upstream pulled the upset in Saturday's $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds, setting a brisk pace and then holding on despite drifting out in the final furlong to win by 2/4 length over Private Fight. Samba Jones, the even-money favorite, was third after a wide trip. Upstream, a son of Open Forum, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:46.29.
In the $125,000 filly division, Open Meadows stalked the pace set by Shesabigcat, got the advantage in the stretch and won by 2 3/4 lengths over Shesabigcat. Little Rumble was a long-shot third. Open Meadows, also by Open Forum, finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:47.52.
High Button Shoes pulled off an old-fashioned victory in Sunday's $150,000 Hendrie Stakes for fillies and mares. After stalking the pace, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Carson City filly came three-wide on the turn to challenge for the lead, quickly got to the front and drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Gold Strike, the favorite. Miss Concerto finished third. High Button Shoes, with Todd Kabel aboard, got the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.38.
Blazing Sunset blazed right to the lead in Sunday's $65,000 Alydar Stakes for 3-year-olds and made the advantage stand up, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. The favorite, Neko Bay, made a late run to take second and Greedy Way finished third. Blazing Sunset, a Kentucky-bred son of Talk Is Money, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.01 with Tyler Baze in the irons.
Gamblers Passion came along outside the leaders in mid-stretch to take the lead and win Saturday's $65,000 Mamie Eisenhower Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 1/4 lengths. Switch Lanes came between rivals to take second and the odds-on favorite, Camela Carson, fell short with a rail bid, finishing third. Gamblers Passion is a 6-year-old, Iowa-bred mare by Prospectors Gamble. She got the 6 furlongs in 1:10.84. "We're going to stretch her out the next trip," said winning trainer Gene Jacquot. "That's no problem. I think a stretch-out is better for this mare."
Rich Fantasy drew off like the odds-on favorite she was in Saturday's $40,000 Ribbon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. The Illinois-bred daughter of Richter Scale fought to the lead on the inside, then took complete charge and won ridden out by jockey Francisco Torres. She finished the 6 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:09.51. It was the first stakes win for Rich Fantasy, which got home second in two earlier stakes tries.