Barbados Heads $50,000 Don Bernhardt Memorial

Barbados Heads $50,000 Don Bernhardt Memorial

Coglianese Photography/Lauren King

Ellis Park Press Release: The 4-year-old colt Barbados has been banging heads with the best sprinters in the country. Now he gets a class break in Saturday’s $50,000 Don Bernhardt Memorial Stakes at Ellis Park.

Barbados, who was purchased for $340,000 as a 2-year-old at the 2014 Keeneland November sale after winning a maiden race by five lengths, is the class of a solid field of older horses racing 6 1/2 furlongs in the Bernhardt. But he’s trying to regain the form that saw him capture Gulfstream Park’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid and Grade III Hutcheson Stakes for new owner Suzanne Stables and trainer Mike Tomlinson.

The colt’s only victory in nine starts since was a $100,000 stakes at Tampa Bay Downs that kicked off his 4-year-old season. But in that stretch he’s run in some of the top sprint stakes, including giving sprint champion Runhappy his closest competition of 2015 when Barbados was second in Keeneland’s Grade III Phoenix.

Barbados has been plagued by foot problems that appear behind him. A five-furlong workout in 59 4/5 seconds–fastest of the morning–at Churchill Downs last Monday indicates all is well with the son of Speightstown, himself a champion sprinter.

“It’s a class drop compared with what he’s been running against,” said Billy Lawson, assistant trainer to Tomlinson. “He worked awful good Monday. I think this is what he needs to get his confidence built back up. But he’s training like a bear. Hopefully he’ll get the job done. He couldn’t be doing any better right now. If he wins, we’ve got bigger things we can look forward to. He’s going into this race as good as he’s ever gone into a race.”

Barbados will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., who won last week’s $50,000 Ellis Park Turf on the grass mare Sweet Acclaim, whose connections also were using that stakes as a step back to set up more steps forward.

But as Barbados’ tepid 7-2 odds indicate, there are others with legitimate chances.

Black Bear, the 4-1 second choice in the field of eight older horses, is 6 years old and has raced only 13 times, winning seven. He was off for 2 1/2 years when he showed up in a $50,000 claiming race this spring at Churchill Downs, finishing third. Trainer Randy Morse claimed Black Bear for $62,500 out of his next start, which the gelding won by four lengths while earning a 100 Bris speed figure that matched his career high.

Others: $251,971-earner Speightsong, also a son of Speightstown; $250,133-earner Bump Start; seven-time winner Tanner’s Popsicle; the Indiana-bred stakes-winner Mister Pollard; along with Gorgeous Bird and Mr Business.

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin’s quest to become North America’s richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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