- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

BALTIMORE — Looking at the three horses in front of him, Javier Castellano wasn’t concerned. He knew his colt, Bernardini, had enough pep to get past Like Now, Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint.

But when he peeked over his shoulder and couldn’t find Barbaro, Castellano knew the 131st Preakness Stakes was theirs for the taking.

“When I didn’t see Barbaro, I decided it was time to go and that’s exactly what my horse did,” Castellano said.

Racing for only the fourth time in his life and first time longer than a mile and around two turns, Bernardini looked like a seasoned pro. He blew past his three competitors through the second turn to win the Preakness by 51/4 lengths yesterday before a record crowd of 118,402 at Pimlico Race Course.

Castellano didn’t see Barbaro because the Kentucky Derby winner and biggest Preakness favorite in six years ($0.50-to-1) was pulled up by jockey Edgar Prado less than a quarter mile into the race. Barbaro sustained fractures above and below his right hind ankle and his racing career is over. A determination whether life-saving surgery can be performed will be made in the coming days.

“Everybody wanted to see a Triple Crown winner and the sport has waited a long, long time for one,” Castellano said. “And everybody thought he would be a Triple Crown winner.”

Barbaro’s injury/defeat leaves Affirmed in 1978 as the last horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Bernardini paid $27.80 to win, the biggest Preakness winning payout since Deputed Testamony paid $31.00 in 1983. Trained by Tom Albertrani, Bernardini became the first non-Kentucky Derby horse to win the Preakness since Red Bullet upset Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

“We felt he had the talent to compete at this level and with Barbaro,” Albertrani said.

Sweetnorthernsaint finished second, followed by Hemingway’s Key, Brother Derek, Greeley’s Legacy, Platinum Couple, Like Now, Diabolical and Barbaro.

While Sweetnorthernsaint had a better performance than in the Kentucky Derby, the game plan of Brother Derek’s team — follow Barbaro — was quickly compromised and the colt had to navigate his way around the slowing Barbaro.

“I can’t feel bad about that after seeing what happened to Barbaro,” Brother Derek trainer Dan Hendricks said.

Unraced as a 2-year old, Bernardini earned his Preakness shot with a 33/4-length win in the Grade III Withers Stakes April 29 at Aqueduct.

Riding Bernardini for the second time, Castellano was perfect in how he placed his colt. Around the half-mile pole, with Like Now and Sweetnorthernsaint running in front of him, Castellano didn’t panic when Brother Derek and jockey Alex Solis went by them.

“I was in great position behind those two horses and when Brother Derek came up to us, I stayed patient because I didn’t want to move too soon,” Castellano said.

Albertrani, though, was momentarily concerned.

“When Brother Derek went by him, it looked like he was backpedaling and wasn’t running the race we had hoped for,” he said. “But when he came back into the picture at the 5/16th pole, I knew he was going to take off.”

Like Now and Brother Derek faded and Bernardini needed only a couple of strides to dispose of Sweetnorthernsaint, moving from fourth to first around the second turn.

Albertrani said no decision has been made about running Bernardini in the June 10 Belmont Stakes.


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