Barbaro staying in comfort zone


ELKTON, Md. (AP) – Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro won’t arrive at Pimlico until Friday, a day before the Preakness Stakes.

Since Barbaro is training just 60 miles from the track, Michael Matz wants to keep his 3-year-old colt at Fair Hill Training Center as long as possible. He also considered waiting until Saturday morning to send his colt by van.

“I didn’t want to run into traffic or for something to happen on the way down Saturday,” Matz said Tuesday. “I’d like him to stay in his own stall here, but he’s got to give up a little bit, too.”

Matz said Barbaro would settle into his new stall at Pimlico late Friday, then go for a prerace gallop Saturday morning. “Hopefully, he will run his race on Saturday afternoon,” Matz said.

Matz has about 50 horses at Fair Hill, a plush 350-acre facility in the woods with a mile dirt track and a seven-eighths-mile track made of wood chips. There are no set training hours as there are at race tracks.

“He relaxes here,” Matz said, looking over at Barbaro grazing about 50 yards away after a morning 1-mile gallop. “I think he will recuperate here better.”

Barbaro, who has won all six of his races, is used to arriving late. In his first five victories, the bay colt showed up on the day of the race. He spent a week at Churchill Downs before winning the Derby by 6 lengths on May 6. He was shipped from Fair Hill to Delaware Park and Laurel for his first two wins, then from Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., to Calder and Gulfstream Park for his next three victories.

While Pimlico officials would have preferred the Derby winner to spend the week at the stakes barn, Matz has the luxury of a short commute.

“We might as well take advantage,” Matz said. “For him to stay at the track down there when he can have a place like this for a the next couple days is a little bit ridiculous.”

AP-ES-05-16-06 1557EDT