Week in Review: Barbaro's Best Sibling Yet?

Madam Milan | MJC photo


Ever since the tragic demise of the great Barbaro (Dynaformer) in 2006, his many, many fans have been hoping to see a second coming of the GI Kentucky Derby winner emerge from his bloodlines. That's a pretty tall order since horses like Barbaro come around only once in a great while, yet the Friends of Barbaro have every right to be disappointed.

Barbaro's dam, La Ville Rouge, has been bred 12 times since she foaled Barbaro and has very little to show for it. Trying the formula that worked so well the first time around, Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, bred La Ville Rouge back to Barbaro's sire's Dynaformer seven times and did not get a graded stakes winner from among the bunch or a horse that earned more than $373,000.

That's disappointing, but there might just be a new chapter about to be written when it comes to Barbaro and his family. When Dynaformer was pensioned, the Jacksons turned to Bernardini and bred him to La Ville Rouge. There's a bit of irony in that because Bernardini was the horse who won the GI Preakness S. on the day Barbaro broke down. The first foal, Mo'ne Davis, named after the young female pitcher who almost singlehandedly won the Little League World Series for her team from Philadelphia, has done little on the track. It is the second Bernardini–La Ville Rouge that should have people excited.

Her name is Madam Milan and she could not have looked better winning a maiden special weight race on the grass Friday at Laurel (video). Granted it was her second start and it was a mere maiden race, but she absolutely looked like a filly with a ton of potential. With Daniel Centeno aboard for trainer Arnaud Delacour, she sat behind a slow pace, found a path along the rail and then exploded past Dancingwithpaynter (Paynter) to win going away.

Since she is a filly and looks like a horse that prefers the grass, you can forget about her winning he 2018 Kentucky Derby. But the smart money is betting that she will turn out to be the best of Barbaro's siblings that have raced so far and, quite likely, the first to become a graded stakes winner. Keep an eye on this one.

Speaking of Prospects

With all due respect to the team that selects the TDN Rising Stars, they blew it when they overlooked Diamond Tap (Tapit), who broke her maiden Thursday at Keeneland (video). Understandably, that she is a 3-year-old rather than a 2-year-old may make her more a late bloomer than a rising star, but on this occasion it might have been worth digging a little deeper. She is trained by William (Buff) Bradley who wins with first time starters abut as often as there is solar eclipse, so the filly figures to get dramatically better over time. It's also worth noting that the word was out on Diamond Tap, who went off at 2-1, unheard of for a Bradley first time starter.

Researching this is not something that can be accomplished between the time these words are being written and the deadline for this story but the only Bradley first time starter to win over the last many years is probably Divisidero (Kitten's Joy), a two-time Grade I winner. Bradley's best horse to date has been Groupie Doll (Bowman's Band), a two-time Eclipse Award winning female sprinter, and she finished eighth in her debut. As far as Rising Star statues goes, the Bradley camp should demand a recount.

Longshot Lukas

While Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas may not win as many races as he used to, no one can argue that he still isn't one of the best longshot trainers in the game. During the opening week of the Keeneland fall meet, Lukas struck with 32-1 shot Goats Town (Dublin) and 13-1 shot Nanoosh (Paynter). Neither compares to the Hail Mary he completed this year at Saratoga when winning with 115-1 bomb Perplexed (Maimonides), the highest priced winner of the meet. Anyone making a simple $2 win wager on all horses Lukas has started this year, through Saturday, would have earned a flat bet profit of $73. Not too shabby.

Bobby Would Be Proud

With a limited supply of Frankel (GB) offspring racing in the U.S., it comes as no surprise that only a handful have made it to the winner's circle here and none have won a graded stakes. That's not going to last much longer.

Chad Brown trains Rubilinda (Frankel {GB}), a 3-year-old filly who won the $200,000 Pebbles S. at Belmont Saturday. After winning the Christiecat S., she's won two in a row and seems to be improving with each start. She's not Breeders' Cup material, at least not yet, but it would be stunning if she were not to win a graded stakes race in the very near future.

Kind of cool that the best Frankel to race so far in the U.S. is trained by Brown, Bobby Frankel's protege.

The Pebbles went off at 5:19 p.m., and just in case you've come to believe that Brown wins every grass stakes races run in America, at least in the eastern time zone, he proved he is actually human 16 minutes after the Pebbles. Though sending out the favorite New Money Honey (Medaglia d'Oro) and the fourth choice, Uni (GB) (More Than Ready) in the GI QEII, he could not manage to hit the board. The race was win by La Coronel (Colonel John) for trainer Mark Casse and his highly regarded assistant David Carroll.

Bob Kulina, Last of a Breed

This item technically falls outside the parameters of “The Week in Review” because Bob Kulina announced his retirement the week prior, but I'd still like to have my say on the man everyone around Monmouth knew simply as Bobby.

As is the case with any racing executive, I didn't always agree with some of the moves Kulina made and I'm still suspicious that he might have something to do with the first-ever interview I conducted as a racing writer when I got hired out of college to work in the publicity department at Monmouth. I was assigned to interview Leroy Jolley for an advance for an opening-day stakes. I asked Jolley one softball question and he proceeded to scream at me for 15 minutes and made it very clear that he thought I might just be the biggest idiot on the face of the earth.

I survived that encounter with Jolley and grew to develop a tremendous amount of respect for Kulina. He devoted some 45 years of his life, not just to a job, but to a special racetrack that he loved. Sadly, over the last four or five years of his career, he had to focus not on improving Monmouth, but finding a way for it to survive. But he did so with the determination that was his trademark.

Kulina loved the game. Kulina understood the game. And that's getting harder and harder to find among those who run the nation's racetrack these days. There are too many execs who care only about their casinos and/or lack a basic understanding of the sport they have been put in charge of. The sport needs a lot more people like Bobby Kulina.

Monmouth will never be the same without him.


Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link


Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.