Looking Back to Look Forward

One of the most common questions surrounding Nicanor concerns when he will make his first start. However, there is no need to get worried that he hasn’t raced yet.

Although it is very important not to confuse the 2-year-old Dynaformer colt with his siblings, a quick peek at his family history might help ease the worried minds of those who are concerned he hasn’t raced yet.

La Ville Rouge’s first foal is Holy Ground, a stakes-winning son of Saint Ballado that was born in 2002. He also was bred by the Jacksons and trained by Matz.

Holy Ground found his biggest success as a 3-year-old, when he won the 2005 Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park by 13 1/4 lengths. He also placed in two other stakes races that year.

As a 2-year-old, however, Holy Ground only raced once. His first race came Nov. 27, 2004, and he won that contest, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight, by 8 1/2 lengths.

Next up for La Ville Rouge, of course, was Barbaro. He only made two starts a juvenile, and he won them both. His first race came Oct. 4, 2005, and he won the 1 mile special weight by 8 1/2 lengths. Barbaro finished his 2-year-old season in the Laurel Futurity, which was held Nov. 19. He won that day by eight lengths.

La Ville Rouge’s only other foal of racing age is Man in Havana, who is unraced. The son of Quiet American was not interested in racing and has been gelded.

For what it is worth, two of the most popular runners this year, Curlin and Big Brown, had limited or non-existent 2-year-old campaigns. Curlin, the reigning Horse of the Year, did not race at all at 2, while Big Brown only made one start. The future Kentucky Derby winner first ran in a race on Sept. 3, 2007, but did not start again until this March.

So, be patient -- it is only August, after all. Also, please remember, that when and where Nicanor will make his first start is solely up to the Jacksons and Michael Matz.


Leave a Comment:



27 Aug 2008 4:26 PM

As far as I am concerned later is better....Give him every chance to grow and to be strong mentally and physically....

Does Nic appear to like running really fast ? Does he want to race ? Can you tell if he has a competitive spirit ??

27 Aug 2008 4:28 PM


27 Aug 2008 4:29 PM
Karen, PA

I loved this update for the specific reason that it educates us to lay off, so to speak, in focusing on the racing aspect when we know we are even more concerned about NICANOR's healthy development.

Thank you for the reminder, as I am certain that EVERYONE is so enamoured of the Barbaro family that we only want the best for these beautiful horses.  

It is just part of those desires that we want to see a bit of Barbaro, perhaps, back on the track and avenge, if you will, the fates that took him from us and his great talent and potential.

I believe one of the biggest concerns, including new track surfaces, drugs, breeding, etc., is the idea of racing campaigns beginning at 3 instead of 2 for the possible safety of the horses' development.  Lots to consider and change up, perhaps.

But there is no mistaking the love and passion for the Barbaro family and connections and the desire to see them all triumph, in whatever form that takes.

GO NICANOR !!  when you are ready !

27 Aug 2008 4:35 PM


27 Aug 2008 4:46 PM

Yes it's great to think that Nic might be the next Barbaro but let's not forget he could just as easily be the next Man in Havana. Everyone needs to relax in thinking that this horse is a sure fire stake winner. La Ville Rouge is not exactly Toussoud or Vertiquex when it comes to producing. I reccomend a wait and see approach. Meanwhile there are several top two-year-olds ready for the spotlight including, Munnings and Desert Party who will square off in the Hopefull this weekend at Saratoga and an impressive first out winner at Del Mar on Sunday named Majormotionpicture for Bongo Racing.

27 Aug 2008 4:54 PM

Patience is a virtue.  I believe God is in this and Nicanor will race when he tells them he's ready.  God Bless you all!

27 Aug 2008 5:04 PM
Kath from SC

Thank you for the update. Nicanor will race when he is ready. GO NICANOR

27 Aug 2008 5:35 PM

Thanks for these words of wisdom.  Big Brown only had one race as a 2YO (which he won in Barbaro-like fashion on turf) because it's all his feet would allow.  I'm not sure why Curlin didn't hit the track earlier, but if it at all made for a more sound horse that we can enjoy beyond his 3YO season, no harm there!  I like the slower-pace and strength training that Nicanor is undergoing - patience is indeed a virtue and good things take time. I look forward to seeing Nic on the track only if/when he's ready - and not a moment sooner!

27 Aug 2008 5:47 PM

Thanks for the update...I will be happy if Nicky doesn't race until he turns three years old...just look at the run Curlin is having as a 4 year-old, and he's still considered to be a baby in  horse terms. We want our Nicanor to be phsically developed when he runs his first race!

27 Aug 2008 6:08 PM

I echo the comments left so far.  I had recently read an article in Readers Digest about Barbaro from Prado's perspective (how often do you see that?).  I can honestly say my heart was handed to me and I did not have a dry eye when I finished reading the article.  

Fate will dictate what will be, and we can only dream that Nicanor will pick up where his big brother left off (Triple Crown?).  

The fact that Nicanor is in good hands only emphasizes that in a perfect world, these gorgeous thoroughbreds will be taken care of in the rightful respects.  But it isn't.  I stress this is a business, nothing more, nothing less.

But to dream that there will be another horse that will take our breathe away like Barbaro did is left up to us only proves how human were are as horse lovers ourselves.

RIP Barbaro....to Nicanor....your fate is delivered, your moment is at hand.

27 Aug 2008 8:11 PM

Thank you for the update.  I never knew when Holy Grounds first race was.

I know Nicanor is in the best of hands and will race when it is the right time.  No need to hurry.  I picture him running happily through the Fair Hill trails with Peter.

27 Aug 2008 8:17 PM

Nicanor is blessed to have connections who will let him be what he is.  The FOB trust the Jacksons, MM., Peter, Grae and all of his connections to do what is in the best interest of Barbaro's siblings.   Thank you for sharing these glimpses of this very special young horse with us.


27 Aug 2008 8:31 PM

Thank you for the update . Any word about Nicanor is most welcome. Of course we want him to run, be the fastest and win ever race but thats just the dream of his fans. We love hearing about anything concerning him, his connections and of course our beloved Lentenor. Yesterday I received my photos from the Bloodhorse of Nicanor and La Villa Rouge and am awaiting a photo of Lentenor. what beautiful horses they are and being allowed to share in the growth and development of Barbaros family is a great source of comfort and joy. We should not be seen as a pressuring public that wants Nicanor and Lentenor on the racing circuit for racings sake but more like proud family members that can't wait to lavish praise and claim bragging rights. It wasn't just great watching Visionaire win, it was THRILLING! There's nothing like watching a horse win when you are emotionally involved  but to win like Visionaire did, coming from far off the pace, is awesome. We are devoted fans that are very lucky to have the Jacksons, Mr Matz, Mill Ridge farm and Fair Hill Training center people to admire and connect with in this small way regarding Barbaros family. Love you all and most important, want only the best for everyone.

27 Aug 2008 9:03 PM
The Colonel

I always thought the Dynaformers took awhile to come around, so I'm not worried about when Nicanor's start is. He'll let us all know when he's ready to rumble.

27 Aug 2008 10:15 PM

I knew I would forget to mention somebody in my previous comments and sure enough I didn't include Stephens Thoroughbreds nor did I praise Ready Set for his wonderful win in the West Viriginia Derby. Ready Set is the best example of just how kind and patient the Jacksons are as owners. Both the Jacksons and Michael Matz have let Ready Set grow and learn his craft. His Derby victory was so sweet. Good job team.  

27 Aug 2008 10:25 PM
Janet, CA

Nobody wants to see another tragedy like that of Eight Belles on the track.  So as much as we all look forward to seeing what Nic has for us, I'm glad the Matz and the Jackson's intend to wait until Nic is ready to show.  Thanks for the reminder!

27 Aug 2008 11:23 PM

I am so thankful that Nicanor is not being rushed to the track.  Too many babies are put out there before they are physically ready.  Thanks to the whole team for doing right by the horse.  I am rooting for him and hope he does well but above all I want him to be a happy healthy horse.  

27 Aug 2008 11:49 PM
Mary in Maine

I'm so happy with this. I've long thought injuries could be reduced by waiting to race two-year-olds and maybe not racing them at that age at all. I truly believe the team working with the Jackson's horses are the best and they keep showing me that's true.

Thanks for the update. So many inquiring minds want to know. :)

28 Aug 2008 7:24 AM

I just wonder what will happen if he does NOT avenge (so to speak) the loss of his brother.  What if he ends up like the Green Monkey, now pretty much forgotten.  Will everyone then turn to his brother and forget him?  Will everyone keep following Nicanor?  I loved Barbaro too, but I don't think Nicanor should have to carry all of the weight of replacing Barbaro on the track, which is what this forum seems to be doing. Keep the hope, but remember all of the other hopeful 2 year olds this year.  This one is no better than them until he proves it.  

28 Aug 2008 8:43 AM

Please pace him! He's going to need all his energy for his 3 yr.old campaign! Thank you for the update!

28 Aug 2008 9:34 AM

No one is expecting Nicanor to replace Barbaro on the track. People have simply fallen in love with the Barbaro, Jackson, and Matz families, and pedigree tracking is a fascinating pasttime.

28 Aug 2008 11:37 AM
Karen - Michigan

Thanks for the Nicanor update.  I certainly appreciate hearing about Barbaro's brothers.  I haven't been concerned when Nicanor's racing career would start because I knew Barbaro was not raced much as a 2-year old.  I know the Jacksons know what's best for Nicanor.  What a beautiful horse he is!

28 Aug 2008 11:58 AM

We all loved Barbaro so much that his beautiful younger brothers have inherited that love.  That they are breathtakingly beautiful doesn't hurt.  What would be awful is if anything bad ever happened to them, we simply could not bear that.  SO PATIENCE everyone!!  Let Nicky develop at his own pace and grow into a strong young horse.  Just let us see pictures of him from time to time to tide us over.  And, thank you for the recent pics of Lentenor and his beautiful mother.

How we love this family...

28 Aug 2008 12:05 PM

We are HAPPY when Nicanor is HAPPY!!

That is ALL that matters.IF he never wins a race IF HE NEVER RACES but is still a HAPPY HORSE then I AM OVERJOYED!! Everyone is doing an exceptional job in considering the well being of this horse and for that I AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL!!!PLEASE CONTINUE...

28 Aug 2008 12:16 PM
sandie h

could someone at mill ridge please let me know the correct birthday of La ville Rouge, i have the birthdays printed on the pictures. i am also trying to learn dynaformers bithday. thanks!!!!!!!!

28 Aug 2008 1:19 PM

It was incredibly thrilling to watch Visionaire win and even more because his trainer is Matz.  Nicanor does have a difficult legacy to match but he is a beautiful soul no matter what.  Some horses run strongly at 2 (Secretariat) and the 2 year races only make them stronger.  But some horses are just not ready at 2. That is the trainer's job...to know the horse.  The Matz's are masters at knowing their horses.  I think we all agree that they can be trusted to make all the right decisions regarding Nicanor's training.  It's great to be able to watch him grow, thanks to Bloodhorse for keeping us up to date.

28 Aug 2008 1:55 PM

Sandie --

LVR's birthday is April 8, 1996

Dynaformer's birthday is April 1, 1985

28 Aug 2008 2:24 PM

For me it isn't a surprise that Nic hasn't raced yet.  Maybe its because of my own background.  Maybe not.

I hope it'll be on tv when it does happen as I can watch.

28 Aug 2008 5:40 PM
4 Barbaro

No true FOB that I know would ever stop loving Nicanor because he does not turn out as a great race horse, he is loved just because of Who, not What he is. Most of us would just be glad that he is safe and pampered and loved by all his connections.  Your updates are most informative and welcome. It is only human nature to want to relieve some great time in your past, most of us realize we are only dreaming of another Barbaro, and we know that there never will be another Barbaro and no one is trying to replace him.

28 Aug 2008 8:57 PM

Curlin didn't race for a reason. Didn't he have shin splints or something like that. He sold below his projected price because of it and Helen Pitts and her staff doctored and babied him for a long time then the first time she ran him Steve saw him and that was that. I don't respect any of his connections because of the way it was handled. Pitts and her barn deserve all the credit for Curlin and his accomplishments. Period

29 Aug 2008 12:24 AM

Check out what Michael Matz said about Nicanor in the philly.com/dailynews/spotrs for 8/28/08.

For a man of few words Micahel Matz gives a pretty good endorsement of Nicanor.  Not sure he will ever be Barbaro (He doesn't have to be for my sake) but wow this is exciting.

29 Aug 2008 10:04 PM

Perhaps our impatience would be quelled and our curiosity satisfied somewhat if there were videos of him galloping at Fair Hill.  I think most of us would be satisfied with that for the time being.  Right now I need a Nicanor fix.  I am starved for pix and updates.  Jim Coarse, how about a video of our boy??  

30 Aug 2008 2:58 AM

speaking of the green monkey....

what has happened to him and where

is he today...

30 Aug 2008 8:54 PM

Amanda, thank you.

I think that the trend toward light racing at 2, if at all, is a good thing. I was so used to seeing horses run 10 to 15 times at 2 in the earlier parts of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and knowing that Man O' War had started ten times at 2, made me curious about what would be looked for. A certain mental or physical development, or something else that only those close to a particular individual would see? Really would rather see everyone start at 3. Giving Nicky plenty of time to grow into himself is a caring thing to do. The Jacksons and Mr. Matz are to be commended for their great care of their charges.

I have only trained one horse in my life and I was determined that she wouldn't be ridden until well after she turned two and didn't start with the bridle until she was almost two. The longer, the better, is my personal preference.

31 Aug 2008 4:46 AM
kwj n.c.


31 Aug 2008 10:52 AM

MJ - Thanks for the link.

Nan- The Green Monkey made three starts as a 3-year-old, and his best race was a third place finish. He has been retired to stud and will stand his first season next year at Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds in Florida.

01 Sep 2008 10:03 AM

I read an article in the Philadelphia News from 08/29/08 about Nicanor and it appears that Nicanor is indeed a very curious horse; remember the movie camera picture and Nicanor looking at it? Here is what Michael Matz said in the article about Nicanor's curiosity.

"I don't want to say he's not smart," Matz said. "He can get distracted in the littlest of ways . . . Hopefully, by next year, he can be a nice handicap horse and become even better."

The article also said, look for Nicanor in a race in October.

Perhaps the rides in the woods are twofold for Nicanor; building up strength and allowing Nicanor to see sights other than the track. I believe Nicanor gets distracted because he is smart.

01 Sep 2008 2:01 PM

And thank you MJ for letting us know about the article about Nicanor.

I think Michael Matz might be purposefully understated on Nicanor. If Nicanor has a great day in October, everyone will be ecstatic. And if Nicanor only has an average day, no one will be disappointed.

01 Sep 2008 2:09 PM

I agree it does not matter when Nicanor races or how many times as a 2 year old. I still think Curlin is a good example; whatever the reason, he did not race as a 2 year old because he was not ready. If Nicanor can come through as Curlin has, there can be no complaint!!

02 Sep 2008 12:45 PM

Kathy, I am pretty sure the quote you posted was in reference to Ready Set, not Nicanor. =)

02 Sep 2008 1:41 PM

You know Amanda, I believe you are correct. My faux pas is due due to working graveyard, bifocals and the fact that I naturally assume that no one talks about any horse except Nicanor. Having reread the article, the lines attributed to Nicanor are much more positive.

02 Sep 2008 4:54 PM
Matt H.

It's also worth considering that if a horse as popular as Nicanor is doesnt see success until after the age of 3, it will pull a lot of casual fans away from the "triple crown only" fan base and into more knowlegeable horse racing fans.  If "The Brother of Barbaro" starts to really shine as a 4 year old lot's of people will tune in to see him compete.

03 Sep 2008 10:10 AM

It is definately well done on this blog that the safety and well being of this horse are prioritized, and you will definately get that out of Matz's barn.  However, he is a Dynaformer-Roberto colt, most of which carry a hard core attitude (I always think of Rock Hard Ten, another Roberto line- Prospector cross, just like Nicanor.  He is big, bad, and is booked solid with a $50,000 stud fee).  Roy Jackson is a great horseman, but there is also a reason he keeps going back to Dynaformer with LVR.

03 Sep 2008 3:34 PM

I think if people were to check out photos of previous Triple Crown winners and other special horses, they would see the obvious, such as confirmation and muscle tone, but if they looked closer they would see see a "Hey I am a Star" or "I am Special" attitude. Man o' War has such a picture at Pedigree Query. Now from what has been said, Nicanor loves to please. He also love the limelight, which may be the reason that Michael M. keeps the cameras away; they are too distracting to Nicanor. The picture of Nicanor at Pedigree Query shows him in a light workout obviously enjoying himself. If you take a look at Dynaformer's photo, it's a yeah, whatever, let's get this over with now photo. Statistics are very important in winning in horse racing, but if the horse doesn't enjoy the competition, you aren't going to have a winner.

15 Dec 2008 3:53 PM

Recent Posts

We Recommend...

Recommended Reading

More Blogs