Friday, January 16, 2009

Maturity Coming Through for Nicanor

Lael Stable’s Nicanor, the full-brother of 2006 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Florida Derby (G1) winner Barbaro, is doing “terrific” and has trainer Michael Matz eagerly eyeing possible debut dates on Donn Handicap (G1) weekend later this month.

“I’m not sure there’s a race scheduled for him,” said Matz Friday afternoon. “I would love to get him into a race those days.”

The 3-year-old homebred son of Dynaformer drilled from the gate Jan. 11 at his Palm Meadows training base and is scheduled to work a half-mile Saturday morning.

Nicanor’s most recent work was a sharp five furlongs in 1:01.35, the fifth-fastest of 22 breezing that distance. It was slightly quicker than 4-year-old filly and fellow Matz-trainee Desired, who also broke from the starting gate. It was also the fastest of three five-furlong breezes Nicanor has posted since December.

Matz says the colt’s intelligence has accelerated as his workouts have accelerated.

“He has really matured a lot just in the last month,” said Matz.

With workouts on both dirt and turf, Matz indicated Nicanor is just about ready to start and has stayed locked on the timeframe drawn up for his debut since going back into serious training last month.

A start on the weekend of Jan. 31 would not only fit Matz’s schedule, it would mean Nicanor could start his career around the same time 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin began his at Gulfstream. It also coincides with the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), which Barbaro won Donn Day 2006 for his first victory on dirt.

Barbaro went on to win the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) before breaking his ankle in the Preakness Stakes (G1). The resulting attempts to save the colt’s life captivated the world. Barbaro eventually succumbed to laminitis eight months later.

“We’re not sure if it will be seven-eighths or a mile,” said Matz of the distance of Nicanor’s would-be debut. “If we want to start on the turf, we can do that because he works equally as well there. We have options. We just need the race to come up.”

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