04/06/2006 11:00PM

Barbaro looks a model of versatility


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Following in the traditions of Smarty Jones, who was bred in Pennsylvania, and Afleet Alex, raced by Cash Is King Stable, whose members live in the Philadelphia area, Florida Derby winner Barbaro is owned and bred by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who live in West Grove, Pa., and race horses in the name of Lael Stable.

Barbaro was bred in Kentucky and was foaled at Sanborn Chase farm, which was run by Sandy and Bill Sanborn, Roy Jackson said. More than a year ago, after the Sanborns went to work for larger horse operations, the Jacksons' mares were sent to Mill Ridge Farm, Jackson said. La Ville Rouge, the dam of Barbaro, is boarded there.

Mill Ridge, where last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Giacomo, was raised, is owned by John and Alice Chandler. The farm stands the eminent sire Gone West, as well as the important classic sire Diesis and the Breeders' Cup Turf winner Johar.

Jackson explained the selection of Dynaformer, the sire of Barbaro, for La Ville Rouge. "We have always liked Dynaformer as a sire of racehorses, and we use Headley Bell as our adviser," Jackson said. "We sit down and go over our ideas, and I think part of Headley's thought in this mating was to get a stallion who would add some size to the foal."

The owners and adviser liked the resulting Dynaformer colt well enough that they sent the mare back to the stallion a year ago, before Barbaro ever started. As a result, "Barbaro has a full brother who is a lovely, quality colt, and we're going back again," Bell said.

One of the positive factors in selecting Dynaformer for La Ville Rouge is that both share a number of similar qualities. A high-class racehorse, Dynaformer excelled on both dirt and turf, with his most important victories coming in the Jersey Derby and the Discovery Handicap. Likewise, La Ville Rouge was a switch-hitter, placing in graded stakes on both surfaces.

Jackson recalled that he and his wife bought La Ville Rouge when she was a 2-year-old, after she had run second in the Tempted, as part of their continuing acquisition of good stock for their racing stable.

"We have concentrated on buying fillies at the sales or while racing that could turn into broodmares eventually," Jackson said, "and La Ville Rouge went on to race a couple more years. She just missed being a really good race filly, placed in four graded stakes, two on dirt and two on grass."

Her better performances varied in distance from a mile in the Tempted and Noble Damsel to 1 3/8 miles in the Long Island and Sheepshead Bay handicaps.

Her aptitude for racing well at longer distances marked La Ville Rouge as somewhat atypical for her sire, Carson City, a sprinter and sire of many horses who excelled in sprints.

Furthermore, La Ville Rouge is a full sister to just such a filly, Lucky Lavender Gal. But their dam, the King's Bishop mare La Reine Rouge, was a stakes winner at 2 from only two starts. That doesn't tell us a great deal about La Reine Rouge's own distance capacity, but two of her full sisters showed stakes form up to nine furlongs, and their sire, the Round Table stallion King's Bishop, was an admirable performer from six to nine furlongs, with his best victory coming in the Carter Handicap.

Although a daughter of the Mr. Prospector stallion Carson City, La Ville Rouge is not a blocky or heavy-bodied mare. Instead, she is "an average-sized mare," Jackson said, "and she doesn't look much like the sprinter type."

When mated with Dynaformer, a 21-year-old son of English Derby winner Roberto who stands at Three Chimneys Farm for a stud fee of $100,000, the result was Barbaro. He is typical of the offspring of Dynaformer, who gets scopey, good-sized horses who run and win and stay sound.

As evidence of their sturdiness and longevity, Dynaformer's numbers are among the highest, with 85 percent starters from foals and 64 percent winners.

The statistics on La Ville Rouge are even better. Both of her first two foals are not only runners and winners, but both are stakes winners. Barbaro's 4-year-old half-brother is stakes winner Holy Ground (by Saint Ballado).

From the evidence of his racing style and bloodlines, Barbaro will be adequately equipped to race 10 furlongs in the Derby, and the greatest challenge there, as ever in 3-year-olds' first experience with 1 1/4 miles, will be his opponents' aptitudes to racing the extended distance.

He might even find added competition within his owners' own stable.

The Jacksons also race the highly regarded Showing Up, a colt who is unbeaten in two starts and was scheduled to run in the Wood Memorial until a bruised foot removed him from contention. The Jacksons also bred and sold George Washington, one of the favorites for the 2000 Guineas.