01/27/2009 12:00AM

Barbaro brother ready to run


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The best-known horse who's never raced is just about ready for his debut. Nicanor, a full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, could race at Gulfstream Park as soon as this weekend. Or he might wait one more week. Regardless, trainer Michael Matz said he's ready to run.

"He's going to run a mile on dirt on Saturday or wait and run on the turf on Feb. 8," Matz said at his barn at the Palm Meadows training center. "The last four to six weeks, he's really come around. How good is he? He's really been working quite nicely. He's got a nice disposition, too."

And he's got quite a fan club. Because of the drama that surrounded his late older brother, Nicanor has been under a microscope for some time. Matz was encouraged by his most recent work Sunday, when Nicanor worked in company with the far more experienced Rockland - who is scheduled to run in the Grade 3, $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday - and the filly Magical Affair.

"It was a good work for all of them," Matz said. "They worked right together."

Peter Brette, Matz's top assistant and exercise rider, was aboard Nicanor. Brette also was the regular work rider for Barbaro.

Rockland, a son of 2004 Derby winner Smarty Jones, was ridden in his workout by jockey Jose Lezcano, who has the mount in the 1 1/8-mile Holy Bull. Rockland is coming off victories on dirt at the Meadowlands and on turf at Calder.

"I had planned on running him on dirt last time, but the race didn't go, so I ran him on turf," Matz said. "I'm not too worried about the distance. I don't think it will be a problem with the horse."

The only problem Matz has with Rockland is getting near him.

"He'll bite you in a second," Matz said.

Idol Maker gets rematch in Holy Bull

Idol Maker finished fourth behind Danger to Society in an allowance race Jan. 8 and will be seeking revenge in the Holy Bull.

"If he ever puts it together, he's going to be a good horse," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Idol Maker. "Like a lot of the Empire Makers I've been around, he needs time to come around."

Idol Maker defeated maidens in his debut at Belmont Park in October, then was fourth in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct before his lone race at Gulfstream. The Holy Bull will be his third straight start at 1 1/8 miles.

"The end result of his last race was a little disappointing, even though he ran against some nice horses," Pletcher said. "He got in a little tight at the three-eighths, sucked out of there, but once he got in the clear he came back on. We're trying to get him to figure the game out."

Danger to Society is unbeaten in two starts. Among those also pointing to the Holy Bull are Atomic Rain, Bear's Rocket, Beethoven, Bruce N Autumn, Nowhere to Hide, Saratoga Sinner, Stately Character, and West Side Bernie.

A.P. Cardinal, who finished second in the Jan. 8 allowance race to Danger to Society, is bypassing the Holy Bull in order to await the Grade 3 Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 14, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Another Derby prospect for McPeek

Kenny McPeek, who trains Danger to Society, has yet another promising 3-year-old in More Than Willing, who defeated maidens going 1 1/8 miles Sunday under jockey Kent Desormeaux. In attempting to keep his prospects apart, McPeek said he is leaning toward sending More Than Willing to the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn for his next start.

"I thought he showed a lot of professionalism," McPeek said. "He could have gone right to the front, but Kent was real conservative with him and sat back there with him."

McPeek said Free Country will run in the Sam Davis and Theregoesjojo is headed to the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 7 at Fair Grounds.

"It's bizarre to be holding four good chances," he said. "That's scary."

DeCarlo set for more surgery

Jockey Chris DeCarlo was scheduled to undergo surgery Friday, the latest chapter in an ongoing medical saga that began more than 14 months ago when he fractured a collarbone in a race at Calder.

DeCarlo was initially out for 10 months - "I should have only been out for four," DeCarlo said - but the plate and pins holding his clavicle to his scapula, put in after long-delayed surgery, now have to come out.

"I'll be out another four to six weeks," DeCarlo said. "It's never-ending."

DeCarlo has been back riding since September and could have waited to take out the equipment. However, he said an upcoming change in medical insurance made it advantageous to do it now rather than later.

Maram coming along slowly

Maram, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in her last start, is coming back slowly and won't run until the spring, trainer Chad Brown said at Palm Meadows.

"We're a little behind schedule," Brown said. "I needed to give her a little more time than I thought I would after the Breeders' Cup. She was in New York for about a month before she came here. She's got a saddle back on, but we're going slowly.

"Initially, I had hoped to run her toward the very end of Gulfstream or the beginning of Keeneland, but I don't know that we're going to make that."

Laragh gets geared up

The news is more encouraging for Laragh, who finished third in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf and then won the Hollywood Starlet. She had her second local work over the weekend and should be ready to run within two months, according to trainer John Terranova.

"She's right back where's she's supposed to be," Terranova said. "We'll probably look for something the first couple of weeks of March. She's doing wonderful. Really, really well."

Terranova also has a half-brother to champion sprinter Benny the Bull in training at Palm Meadows, an unnamed 3-year-old colt by Broken Vow.

"He breezed up here for the first time the other day, an easy three furlongs," Terranova said. "He's bigger than Benny the Bull, which is one reason he's taken so long to get going. Right now, it looks like he'll be ready to run sometime this spring."

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch