Kentucky Derby a mixed blessing for trainer Barba


Associated Press

Posted on April 14, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Louisville, Ky. (AP) - Trainer Alexis Barba had mixed emotions when she learned Wednesday morning that Make Music for Me would draw into the Kentucky Derby following the last-minute defections of Endorsement and Interactif.

Of course, there is the excitement that comes with running in the world's most famous horse race. She has a chance to make history as the first woman to train a Derby winner.

All of that was tempered by the knowledge her opportunity came at the expense of others.

“It's very exciting, but you feel bad for the other person,” said Barba. “You're glad you're in, but you're sad for the other person, that's just the way it is.”

Barba had earlier entered Make Music for Me in Friday's American Turf at Churchill Downs as a fallback position. Now it's on to the Derby.

The door for Make Music for Me opened when Sunland Derby winner Endorsement broke his right front ankle after a workout, and he may have surgery Thursday. Trainer Todd Pletcher opted not to run Interactif.

Of the two defections, Endorsement was the most surprising.

Trainer Shannon Ritter, aboard for the drill, knew something was wrong as the horse walked back to the barn.

“I didn't even notice it right away until we had been further down the road walking,” said Ritter.
Pletcher had said for several days that Interactif was doubtful for the Derby. He ended the suspense with an announcement that the colt would be pointed to turf races in the future.
“I think he's a little better on the grass,” Pletcher said.  “Even though he trained well here, I just felt that a mile-and-a-quarter on the dirt is not his specialty.”
With rain in the Derby Day forecast, Pletcher had toyed with using Interactif as his Derby mudder.
“Even though it looks like he likes a wet track, we felt it was in his best interest to wait,” he said.