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Kentucky Derby Spotlight: Barber Road

Kentucky Derby contender Barber Road
Barber Road before the Arkansas Derby. Thank you to Mel Miller for the photo.

Kentucky Derby Spotlight: Barber Road

Barber Road was bred in Kentucky by Susan Forrester and Judy Curry. He is sired by Race Day, a multiple-graded stakes winning son of Tapit, and is out of the Southern Image mare Encounter. He is Encounter’s most successful foal so far, though his second dam (maternal grandmother) Cope Away produced multiple-graded stakes placed Susan’s Angel as well as stakes winners Copingaway and Adorable Jane.

The Kentucky Derby is a race that often sees expensive horses participating, but Barber Road is not one of those horses. His sire’s stud fee was only $6,000 in 2018 and he sold for just $15,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November Sale. Compare this to purchase prices of other Kentucky Derby contenders: Epicenter was bought for $260k as a yearling, Messier for $470k, Cyberknife for $400k, and Taiba commanded a whopping $1.7 million as a 2yo.

Barber Road began his racing career with a 4th place finish at Colonial Downs. Two months later he won a $30,000 Maiden Claiming event at Keeneland after a thrilling duel with Lemonadeatthelatch. He then captured his 2nd consecutive race, a 6.5 furlong Starter Allowance, at Churchill Downs.

[Video: Watch Barber Road break his maiden at Keeneland]

Barber Road hasn’t won since this race, but he has been ever consistent at the stakes and graded stakes level. He was 2nd in the Lively Shivley at Churchill Downs, 2nd in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, 2nd in the Southwest (G3), 3rd in the Rebel (G2), and 2nd in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He has far outearned his $15k purchase price — he has earned $650k to date.

Barber Road is a closer, meaning he races towards the back of the pack and then makes his move from behind horses. This running style has caused him to run into traffic during his previous races and in a race like the crowded Kentucky Derby, he’s going to need a clean trip to win.

“He's a smart horse,” his trainer John Ortiz said in an interview with HorseRacingNation. “He knows that the race is won at the wire, at the end, not at the beginning. So he paces himself. And he's smart. He listens very well to his riders – in the morning and in the afternoon. He's a very intelligent horse, he does listen to cues that his riders are asking of him. So that's going to be the key. It's just the relationship between Reylu (Gutierrez) and Barber Road.”

Barber Road is John Ortiz’s first Kentucky Derby horse. He feels that Barber Road will love the extra distance of the Derby, as he tends to gallop out strongly after crossing the wire.

Will you be cheering for Barber Road on the First Saturday in May?

[Video: Watch Barber Road finish behind Cyberknife in the Arkansas Derby]


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