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Saturday, January 10, 2009


Turf Work Opens Possibilities to Career Debut


Lael Stable’s Nicanor, the full-brother of 2006 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Florida Derby (G1) winner Barbaro, passed another test this week imposed by trainer Michael Matz by working out on the Palm Meadows turf course last Monday.

The 3-year-old homebred son of Dynaformer remains pointed toward a highly anticipated career debut at the end of January or early in February, but after his latest drill could make that start on the grass.


Nicanor breezed five furlongs in 1:04.50, initially chasing fellow Matz-trainee Common Channel. It was over a ‘firm’ turf and around traffic cones, or ‘dogs,’ protecting the inside part of the course.

“They started off slowly because Nicanor needed a horse who was just a little faster to go after,” said Matz. “He did it very well and (exercise rider) Peter (Brett) stayed with him and he finished up and galloped out very well.”

The workout was Nicanor’s first over the turf. He record three workouts over the artificial surface at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland last summer. It was the colt’s fifth drill since arriving in South Florida.

Barbaro started his career with three straight wins on grass before moving to the turf in the 2006 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. He went on to win the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby 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.

Matz has previously spoken of Barbaro’s and Nicanor’s apparent fondness for both dirt and turf surfaces. The former champion Olympic equestrian is pleased with the options this latest workout opens up.

“He’s doing very well and now (his first start) will depend on which race comes first in the timeframe we’re looking at,” said Matz. “If a maiden race comes up at seven-eighths or a mile we can go there, or if we want to race around two turns we can go to the turf. It will just depend on what we want to do when he’s ready.”


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