Updated on 09/17/2011 11:57PM

Barbaro good to go again

Barbaro nibbles on greenery on the Churchill Downs backside the morning after his 6 1/2-length tour de force victory in the 132nd Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Kentucky Derby appeared to take so little out of the victorious Barbaro that a couple of hours after the race, when trainer Michael Matz got a brief respite from the postrace interviews and phoned his assistant, Peter Brette, to see how Barbaro was doing back at the barn, Brette replied, "You could enter him again tomorrow."

They will have a little more time than that. After racing once in 13 weeks, and entering the Derby off a five-week layoff, Barbaro will now come back in two weeks for the 131st , the second leg of the Triple Crown, on May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.

And if Barbaro were to win the Preakness, he would move on to the June 10 Belmont Stakes with a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. That drought is the longest since the Triple Crown series was first swept by Sir Barton in 1919.

For the first time in 20 years, there is no bonus tied to winning the Triple Crown, since Visa did not extend its Triple Crown sponsorship this year.

The light schedule Barbaro had preceding the Derby was designed by Matz to have him fresh, fit, and dangerous for the demands of racing three times in five weeks during the Triple Crown.

"Well, now the table's turned, isn't it?" Matz said. "That's what we were planning for with the five weeks' rest. It looks like we made the right plan.

"Two weeks, obviously, for any horse is probably coming back quick, let alone winning the Kentucky Derby. So that was the reason to give him eight weeks off [before the Florida Derby], try to have a fresh horse. I don't think it'll be a problem, but we'll have to wait and see. If we've made a mistake, we'll know it in two weeks."

Only a handful of horses who chased Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby are scheduled to challenge him again in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. That includes Brother Derek, who finished in a dead heat for fourth, Sweetnorthernsaint (seventh), Lawyer Ron (12th), and possibly Bob and John (17th).

Horses who skipped the Derby but are scheduled to run in the Preakness include Bernardini, the Withers Stakes winner; Like Now, who won the Gotham and was second in the Lexington; Simon Pure, who was fourth most recently in the Arkansas Derby; and possibly High Finance, a recent allowance winner at Belmont Park.

"If ever you're going to beat him perhaps now is the time, because he's going to be a bear when he goes a mile and a half," said Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Like Now.

Bluegrass Cat, who was second in the Derby, Steppenwolfer (third), and Jazil (dead heat for fourth) are among those who are going to skip the Preakness and instead be pointed toward the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

So, while the Derby had a full field of 20, it appears the Preakness will come in decidedly smaller than its maximum of 14 runners.

Barbaro got a Beyer Speed Figure of 111 in the Derby. His 6 1/2-length margin of victory was the fifth-largest in Derby history, behind four horses who won the race by eight lengths, the last being Assault in 1946. He also became the sixth horse since 1915 to win the Derby while still unbeaten, joining Regret, Morvich, Majestic Prince, Seattle Slew, and Smarty Jones.

"It gives you confidence to know that when you think everything is right and they do run a race like that, it makes you feel good to know you've done everything you could do," Matz said.

Barbaro left Churchill Downs on Sunday afternoon for Matz's stable in Fair Hill, Md., where the colt trained last year before heading to Florida for the winter. Matz said Barbaro would remain there until at least a few days before the Preakness.

"Usually we just come down the day of the race," Matz said. "We might go down a couple of days early and school him in the paddock. He got a little antsy in the stall [in the Derby]. In the Florida Derby, he was bad in the stall and when we took him outside he was okay. We have to do a little work on that."

Barbaro is now unbeaten in six starts, and the way he dominated the Derby had many wondering how good he could be, considering he already has shown great ability on the turf. In fact, one breathless journalist at the postrace press conference asked an unwieldy question that took almost as long as the Derby itself, wondering if Matz would bypass the Preakness and Belmont in order to shoot for next month's Epsom Derby.

Matz had a bemused look on his face. "Let's take one step at a time here," he said.

"I'm sure one day he's going to get beat," Matz said Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. "But I sure hope it's later than sooner. I mean, I hope he doesn't. Maybe he's a once-in-a-lifetime horse."

One thing that is not in question about Barbaro is his ability to handle a distance. Being a son of Dynaformer, the longer the better. And since he just turned 3 on April 29, he is still maturing.

"He's got a right to grow and get stronger," Matz said.

"The future's in front of him," he added. "How good a horse could he be? There's no telling."

Brother Derek, whose four-race win streak ended in the Derby, will remain at Churchill Downs until May 17 and then fly to Baltimore, trainer Dan Hendricks said. Brother Derek was compromised by a wide trip from post 18, and also lost his right-front shoe.

"We're not really sure when it happened," Hendricks said.

Hendricks, though, refused to say that cost Brother Derek the race.

"He could have been second," Hendricks said. "He was wide, and he ran into a monster. You've got to take your hat off to the winner."

Michael Trombetta, the trainer of Sweetnorthernsaint, was encouraged by the extended midrace move that Sweetnorthernsaint made after losing position when he was bumped solidly at the start.

"He passed a lot of horses," Trombetta said. "After he made up all that ground, he just got a little tired."

Sweetnorthernsaint was sent by van to Laurel Race Course on Monday. Trombetta said the only reason he would come to Pimlico early would be if he works Sweetnorthernsaint before the race.

"Then I'd stay there," he said. "Most likely I'll keep him home and gallop to the race."

* In the , Barbaro was 19-1 in pool one, 15-1 in pool two, and 9-1 in pool three.

- additional reporting by David Grening

Preakness contenders

Horses pointing for the 131st Preakness at Pimlico on May 20. The field will be limited to 14.

BarbaroM. MatzE. Prado1st, Ky. Derby
BernardiniT. AlbertraniJ. Castellano1st, Withers
Brother DerekD. HendricksA. Solis4th-dh, Ky. Derby
Lawyer RonR. HolthusJ. McKee12th, Ky. Derby
Like NowK. McLaughlinundecided2nd, Lexington
Simon PureD. Lukasundecided4th, Ark. Derby
SweetnorthernsaintM. TrombettaK. Desormeaux7th, Ky. Derby
Possible entrants
Bob and JohnB. BaffertG. Gomez17th, Ky. Derby
High FinanceR. Violetteundecided1st, Bel. Allow.