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Chelios Makes Stakes Debut in Barrera

Chelios - 615x400 (Benoit photo)
Chelios makes his first stakes start in his fourth career race when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Laz Barrera Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

A Glen Hill Farm homebred by Distorted Humor, Chelios was second to Ferocious on April 12 at seven furlongs, beaten 2 ½ lengths. It was the bay colt’s first start in 10 weeks.

“That race should help him,” trainer Tom Proctor allowed, quickly adding, “I don’t know if he can beat the horse that beat him (Ferocious), but we’ll see.”

Proctor played host at his barn to trainer Art Sherman at Churchill Downs, where the trainer of California Chrome bedded down the colt that would go on to win the Run for the Roses last Saturday.

“I’m glad that it worked out well for Art,” Proctor said. “I always believed there are no fairytales in this business, but I might have saw one.”

California Chrome, meanwhile, is set to fly out of Churchill Downs on Monday at 12:30 p.m. and arrive in Maryland at 2 p.m., along with groom Raul Rodriguez and exercise rider Willie Delgado.

California Chrome is scheduled to go to the track at Pimlico Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday just prior to 7 a.m., and be the first horse on the track at 5 a.m. Saturday morning. Only Preakness starters will be permitted on the track that day from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Doug O’Neill, off to a fast start at the Spring Meet with eight wins through Thursday to lead the trainers’ standings, runs Twenty Percent in the Barrera.

The son of Dixie Union was an impressive 3 ¼-length winner in his debut race on March 22. “That’s a tough race,” O’Neill said of the Barrera. “I wasn’t really expecting to see that kind of depth to it, but my horse is doing well, so we’ll see what happens.”

The field for the Barrera, race seven of nine: Ferocious, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Tonito M., Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Kobe’s Back, Corey Nakatani, 9-5; Chelios, Gary Stevens, 3-1; Twenty Percent, Mike Smith, 6-1; Puppy Manners, Tyler Baze, 20-1; and Top Fortitude, Kayla Stra, 6-1.


Saturday’s stakes race is named for Lazaro Sosa Barrera, a Hall of Fame trainer who died at the age of 66 on April 25, 1991.

Born in Havana, Barrera was one of nine brothers who went on to become involved in Thoroughbred racing in the United States.

In an illustrious career that lasted 50 years, Barrera is one of only three trainers ever to win four consecutive Eclipse Awards, but will be best remembered as the trainer of Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, in 1978.

Former jockey agent and current racing Manager for Triple B Farms Alex Procel took time to recount one of many tales about the late, great trainer.

“We were in Puerto Rico to run a horse in a stakes with David Flores riding,” Procel said. “They loved Laz in Puerto Rico, and the day before the race, they had a party for him.

“One guy came over and said, ‘I know why you guys are here. You came for Mister Frisky.’ I said, ‘Who? Who’s Mister Frisky?’ He said, ‘He won 11 in a row.’ So we met the owners, who said they were thinking about sending the horse to the United States, and that’s how he came to this country with Laz as his trainer.”

Among Mister Frisky’s victories is the 1990 Santa Anita Derby.



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