Barbaro's brother shows promise in 1st victory

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Nicanor suddenly has more in common with his older brother, Barbaro: A dominating win.

Are you ready for the FONs?

Nicanor looked on his way toward following in the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner's hoof prints. Nicanor broke his maiden in a romp, a 15¼-length victory on the turf at Delaware Park - the same track where Barbaro won his first career race.

A day after the win, co-owner Gretchen Jackson was relieved Barbaro's baby brother was finally able to bust into the winner's circle.

"One of my thoughts was, he better do it this time," Jackson said Thursday. "He'd been so close. The result was very pleasing. It looks like we might have a horse that might have some talent."

Nicanor's connections are the same team that were behind Barbaro three years ago: He's owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, and trained by Michael Matz. Nicanor is a full brother, also by Dynaformer and out of La Ville Rouge.

He had fallen short of breaking his maiden in his first three races before Matz so decided to shake things up by putting blinkers on the colt. That appeared to focus the promising colt - Gretchen Jackson said Nicanor had been a "dawdler" - and he won the 1 1-16-mile race in 1 minute, 46.31 seconds.

The convincing victory could have been because of the blinkers, the turf or a weak field. Or maybe Barbaro's brother is showing signs of growing up.

"I knew he was a good horse. Maybe it was just maturity," Matz said. "It was just a matter of time until he put everything together. I'm sure he'll be a pretty good horse."

Matz wasn't sure what's ahead other for Nicanor other than perhaps a condition race. Jackson also was unsure of his future plans.

No matter what's ahead, Nicanor will never top the popularity of Barbaro. Barbaro shattered his right hind leg in the 2006 Preakness only a few strides into the race, ending his career and starting an eight-month fight for his life. He became a symbol of courage and strength for the self-proclaimed FOB's - Fans of Barbaro - before he was euthanized in 2007.

Pimlico officials had renamed the Sir Barton Stakes the Barbaro Stakes in a race held on Preakness day. That race has been put on hiatus because the racing office had trouble with entries the last few years, a spokesman said Thursday.

Matz hoped Nicanor would have been a Kentucky Derby horse this year. Instead, the horse appears ready for a full career that just won't include any Triple Crown races.

"Hopefully it will be a good start for a nice career," Matz said.


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