It is funny how some things never go away, like swimming or riding a bycicle. Once you are experienced in watching a horse race, the "feel" for it never leaves you.
I have not been on a racehorse,... heck, not even on a racecourse, in 15 years now. I don't know any US horses until they are announced before the race (back in Yugoslavia, I knew every horse and every person involved, I watched all horses train, I have probably watched their parents and grandparents race, I was 'in' on all the behind-the-scenes gossip, etc).
All I do now is try to watch the three Triple Crown races every year (and I watched the Breeder's Cup once). I missed the Derby two weeks ago, so I made sure I watched the Preakness today, as everyone said that Barbaro was a fantastic horse (which is pretty much how they hype the Derby winner every year, but 6.5 lengths margin of win in the Derby is actually pretty amazing).
I tuned in only about 15 minutes before the starting time, so I could skip all the foolishness of the commentators. I wanted just to see the pre-race parade and the race.
I liked Barbaro - he's a big powerfull horse, but I could not tell much from him just walking around. Then I saw Bernardini and got really excited - that was a look of a champion. If I could bet (and as a judge and a racecourse official I never did bet in my life), I would have put all my money on Bernardini.
I really surprised myself at how good my eye still is. I saw Barbaro go lame on about his second lame step and immediatelly misdiagnosed an injury to the right hind hock, which I changed to right hind ankle as soon as the cameras went back to him and several minutes before anyone got to interview the vet (who was the first one to mention the ankle).
Back to the race itself, I could see that Bernardini was going to win way back when he moved from fourth to third place - he looked fresh and awfully fast and had clear track in front of him while the two horses in front were fussing at each other.
So, again this year, no chance of a Triple Crown. I hope that Barbaro does not have to be put down. His racing days are over, but as a powerful Derby winner with a good pedigree, his career at stud is guaranteed.
Read more here and here.
Update: Barbaro's injuries are much worse than anyone expected - multiple fractures and dislocations. He is in surgery as we speak and they are trying to patch him up well enough so that he can walk comfortably in the future and will not have to be put down. Let's hope that they are successful.
Update 2: After a seven-hour surgery, it appears that Barbaro is OK and will live.
Update 3: If you want to get a lot of detail from someone who really knows racing inside out, check out Left At The Gate blog and a whole series of posts there.