Nicanor Update

For those of you concerned about Nicanor, there is no need to be worried. The 2-year-old Dynaformer colt is still in training.

“He is just hacking at Fair Hill,” said trainer Michael Matz. “We are just giving him some time. He is just growing so much right now.”

Intermixed with exploring the trails at the Maryland training center, Nicanor is also still making appearances at the track. He just isn’t having “official” works.

“He goes to the track once or twice a week, still,” said Matz. “We are just waiting until he grows up a little bit.”

Please continue to have patience with Nicanor, as horses all have their own time frame for getting to the races.


Leave a Comment:


Amanda, Thank you so much for this reassuring information.  We've all been so concerned.  (I wonder how big he'll get to be??)  Can't wait for a recent photo.

20 Oct 2008 4:30 PM

I, personally, am not so concerned about his racing debut as I am about his welfare and health, in general.

Thank you. Michael and Amanda, for putting our minds at ease.  

20 Oct 2008 4:36 PM

Thanks for the update on Nicanor. He can take all the time he needs, just want him to be safe and happy.

Bless you for putting his needs first.  If he likes to race fine, if not that's okay too.

20 Oct 2008 4:37 PM
The Colonel

Thanks for the update. I have been growing curious as to what he's been up to. Not surprised he's not doing anything serious yet, and would like to see how big he's gotten.

20 Oct 2008 5:55 PM
Leah P.

When He Is Going To Be Racing Not In Breeders Cup Right He Such

Prety Baby Boy Good Luck


20 Oct 2008 6:25 PM

I know our boywill tell us when he is ready, maybe official works when he goes on his vacation to Florida for the winter.  All in good time and if he doesn't start to run until he is over 3 than it ok with me.

20 Oct 2008 6:26 PM

Thank you for the update.  Is his growing physical, mental or both?

20 Oct 2008 6:37 PM

He's a Dynaformer.  Anyone expecting this horse to compete at 2 or even early 3 is expecting a lot.  Dynaformers need time, and lucky for him, he's with people who will give him all the time he needs.  He'll be a racehorse when he's ready.  I vote for more Michael Matzes with training licenses and more owners like the Jacksons!

20 Oct 2008 6:41 PM
Karen, PA

You rock, Michael Matz!  

You "knew the horse," as Gretchen Jackson said, when you paced Barbaro's races before the Derby, and you are clearly pacing Nicanor the way Nicanor should be paced.  

He and the Jacksons are SO fortunate to have you at the helm with Peter and the rest of your team.

Thanks so much for the update.  We care very much for Barbaro's family and their connections.

20 Oct 2008 6:48 PM
Lisa in Colorado

Thanks you for the update. i am so glad Michael understands what Nic needs and is making sure he gets the time to grow and grow up.

20 Oct 2008 6:54 PM
Kath from SC

Thank you for the update. What ever Nicanor decides he wants to do is fine, as long as he is healthy and happy.

20 Oct 2008 7:45 PM

My only concern with waiting with Nicanor is that other horses will be stronger, and more able to withstand the rigors of a potential Triple Crown while Nicanor could be less so, yet forced to compete. I really don't have faith in Matz after barbara, and he's repeating the same errors again. I think one can play the waiting game, but as we saw with Barbaro, waiting can ultimately end in tragedy in a lightly raced horse who breaks down. So, we may end up with a great horse who races later, just not in the Triple Crown. Part of me is annoyed that Matz is placing this horse in jeopardy by waiting, and then possibly demanding too much in the Spring Triple Crown on legs that could literally crack under the strain. I'd rather see him be another King Glorious who avoided the Trple Crown, Easy Goer and Silence, and carved a niche for himself.

20 Oct 2008 8:01 PM

Thank you so much for the note on Nicanor.  He is loved by so many and in several thoughts and prayers.  Thank you Amanda for giving us the opportunity to stay informed on what is going on in the lives of Barbaro's brothers and his connections.  

20 Oct 2008 8:13 PM


is Fair Hill open to the public? I'm in Maryland, and would love to take a look for myself. I'm sure access would be limited, but, maybe from a distance?

wonder if we are looking at a late start for nicanor, maybe spring?

patiently waiting....

20 Oct 2008 8:51 PM

Thanks for the update!  He's in good hands, so there's no need to rush him while he's still so young, in my opinion.  It will no doubt serve him well to hack around those beautiful woods and hills in Fair Hills.

20 Oct 2008 9:12 PM

Thanks for the update! I am pleased that they are taking their time with him, as I am sure they do with all their horses. Nicanor will be ready in his own time.

20 Oct 2008 9:17 PM

I am so glad to hear that Michael Matz is taking good care of this beautiful horse, and keeping him on the right track while he grows physically and mentally!! Hope to see him out showing us his talent when he's ready!

20 Oct 2008 9:28 PM
needler in Virginia

It's nice to know Nicanor is growing as he should.... like a teenager! Waiting is the hardest thing of all, but he'll eventually end up looking just grand, and his days of short-necked giraffe look-alike will be only a memory. Better to grow at odd rates, and in spurts, than to look perfect at 2, and fall apart at 3.......NOT literally, you understand!! Growth rates vary wildly, and I understand that most Dynaformers are so full-bodied that a slow growth rate better serves their eventual body types. And "just hacking" is perfect for all horses, especially growing babies.

Can ANYONE think of a better person to be in charge of Nicanor?? NOT ME! I've seen Mr Matz compete over the years, and have never seen him ride any horse in less than perfect condition.

Best wishes to all at Fair Hill; may you have a lovely autumn.......

20 Oct 2008 9:48 PM

Thank you Amanda for getting an update on Nicanor. Michael knows best. Nicanor is such a cutie, I just wish they took more photos of him.

So Nicanor is still growing. Wasn't he 16.2 hands last summer? Continued good health and success to you Nicanor. Take you vitamins and stay away from the rich desserts your dad likes so well.

20 Oct 2008 10:16 PM


Just because they are waiting for him to mature doesn't mean he will be any worse off in the Spring. Big Brown seemed OK with his lack of experience. But mainly because the odds of him being the next Barbaro are very very slim. La Ville Rouge would have to be the next Better Than Honor and that was a trillion for her to have 2 Belmont winners and now Casino Drive. With thousands of horses born each year... he might not be ready for the TC. He might have to sit it out and race in other races. I'm not saying he isn't going to be a fantastic racehorse or that he can't be a champion like his brother. But waiting for him to grow up... even if that takes longer than some of his peers... doesn't endanger him like you are thinking. And just because he is Barbaro's brother doesn't mean he will be in the starting gate come the first Saturday in May. There are plenty of champions that make their mark outside of the TC.

21 Oct 2008 12:01 AM

Thank you aduckworth for the peace of mind. I admit some of the fears expressed by other people was beginning to get me. I even thought "what if he got hurt and  they didn't want to alarm his fans"? Thank goodness common sense got a hold of me and erased those nutty thoughts. We need to remember he was a late foaling colt as well as a Dynaformer that needs more time to mature. Nuts to you that bad mouth Michael Matz. He is a true horseman and everybody is better off that he has Nicanor in his care. How many two year olds does it take to break down before you understand that horses are like anything else, each one is unique. Some take longer to grow and mature than others. It's that simple. Push a horse before its time and not only can they break down but they also burn out and you break their spirits. Peter said Barbaro didn't understand it all until the Florida Derby. He started the race as a boy and ended it like a man. They need time and thankfully the Jacksons make sure their horses get it. Huh Ready Set!

21 Oct 2008 12:24 AM

how BIG is BIG???most humans think all Horses & humans have to be BIG to do something BIG...John Henry the FREAK was 15.1...BIGGIE SMALL!!!Old Bob Bowers BOY!!!

21 Oct 2008 2:35 AM

Glad to hear the horse is doing well.  Hacking and the track as a mixture is a good thing.  Surely, the connections will not be changing their game plan by reading what "Jon" wrote in a comment above.  So, if I am to understand "Jon" correctly, he would rather push Nicanor into something for which he is not ready.  And, who is to say that Matz will push the horse too hard in the spring trying to make Triple Crown races?  If the horse isn't ready to run some of the big preps and the Triple Crown, then it just wasn't meant to be.  Matz is doing the right thing and will continue to do so.  All brothers and sisters aren't equal.  Nicanor is Nicanor -- not Barbaro.  

21 Oct 2008 9:25 AM

Nicanor is a breath of fresh air during these crazy times.I wish the media would focus on good things instead of all the depressing news we here.Nicanor is in the best hands and Michael Matz was right on on how he trained Barbaro.

21 Oct 2008 9:55 AM
Karen in VA

I don't understnad comments about Nicanor being pushed into Triple Crown competition, since his connections have announced no such plans.  What if he is better suited to turf?  I also believe that no one more than Michael Matz and the Jacksons have suffered "what ifs" about Barbaro's career, so get off their backs.  Those folks suffered a heartbreak I can't begin to imagine, and I still weep for Barbaro.  The lessons they learned will help to protect Barbaro's siblings.  I am so happy to have an update and know this horse is getting the best care possible and will go to the track only when he is ready.  Nicanor in the 2010 Arc, yeah!      

21 Oct 2008 11:05 AM

Jon I would imagine that getting Nicanor to the Triple Crown is a 'best case only' scenario.  Just because Barbaro developed at a pace that put him on that route does not mean Nicanor is being pointed the same direction.

While as fans of Barbaro of course we want to see the brothers in the TC races but the reality is at this point we might have to look more at how Lentanor develops for that dream and hope to enjoy Nicanor as a star of the sport in his late 3, 4 and dare we hope 5 year old seasons.

21 Oct 2008 11:10 AM

Dynaformer is a good 17 hands and I disagree with Jon - Barbaro did not break down because he was fragile - I was there and I swear Brother Derek came in on him and his (Brother Derek's) front foot hit Barbaro's back leg.

Babies need time to grow - want them to break down?  Run them when their knees are open and they are uncoordinated.  Take your time Mr Matz - you have forgotten more about horses than most people know.  I'm just glad Nicanor is with people that will take their time and not rush him.

21 Oct 2008 11:31 AM

I don't see the Jacksons or Michael Matz "forcing" Nicanor or any other horse to do something they are not ready to do. He'll be raced if and when he's ready, and he won't be over raced.

21 Oct 2008 12:13 PM

A 2008 start would seem to be out of the question, as it would be unlikely to enter him without 3 official breezes.  It seems by the comments that there is no imminent plan to put him back on the work tab-but if he is going to approach 17 hands, so be it.  To me it looks like his younger brother grew alot earlier than he did.

21 Oct 2008 12:25 PM

Guessing it took awhile for his knees to close.  Sounds like all connections are doing an outstanding job with this colt.  It's harder to keep the big ones sound.  

Can't wait to see him grown up.  I have a feeling we'll be hearing his name.

21 Oct 2008 12:52 PM

Thank you for the update.I am so curious to see how big he gets.  I think his Daddy is at least 17 hands!!

21 Oct 2008 1:28 PM

I am so glad Nicanor is getting the time he needs to grow and mature. Most trainers and owners push these young horses to the  track too hard and too fast.

WI can understand the need to recoup some of the investment for buying, training, and the expensive upkeep of young throughbreds.

But it has to remembered; they are living creaturesmade of flesh and blood. They are race horses, not race cars!

21 Oct 2008 2:09 PM
Chris Taylor

I have faith in his connections.If we take our time and map him out a good spot through out his carreer we will se him in the 2009 Kentucky derby.We all know the pedigree is there.GOOD LUCK BABY BOY

21 Oct 2008 2:38 PM

this is the second time I've heard a reference to going to Florida.  Does Michael transfer all of his horses to Florida for the winter??

21 Oct 2008 5:04 PM

I am really happy to finally hear about Nicanor! I will be waiting patiently for his first race, even if Michael does not decide to race him as a two year old. I do hope that he stays safe and sound, and grow up to be a big horse with a lot of strength. I will be waiting patiently to hear more about him soon. I just hope that he at least may contain some talent like Barbaro did.  Good luck, Nicanor and I will be waiting for you!

21 Oct 2008 6:10 PM
christy tate

thanks for the update. I for one am glad mr. matz is taking his time with nicanor. so many young horses get hurt because they're rushed along. so kudos to him and his team.

21 Oct 2008 7:38 PM

Thank you so much for the update on Nicanor. I was so worried because I haven't heard in so long.  God bless Mr. Matz and Mr. Brette, they know what Nicanor needs.  Please keep us posted!!  

21 Oct 2008 8:03 PM

Just glad to hear that he is getting some time to "just be a horse" and hack around the trails while continuing to get to the track for gallops too!  I bet he is just going to mature so much over the winter and be ready for springtime campaign!  He will do just fine when he is ready!

21 Oct 2008 8:43 PM

Thanks so good to hear that Nicanor is doing his thing - and that he is not being rushed. He is still a young guy, let his body grow and become strong, no rush, he needs to be ready and well formed.

21 Oct 2008 10:42 PM

I think we should leave the training to Michael.  He is the professional.  We are just fans.  If Nicanor makes it to the races, fine.  If he doesn't, fine.  One thing I don't worry about is any horse owned by the Jacksons & trained by Michael.

22 Oct 2008 7:38 AM
Triple Crown Karen

To JON who shows his lack of knowledge with his comments......I have been IN horses all of my life and can tell you that Michael Matz is the "Horseman's Horseman".  His training of BARBARO in NO WAY contributed to his injury and the loss of that great horse.    Michael's attention to DETAIL and knowledge of ALL the horses in his care is without equal in this industry.  The DYNAFORMERS are BIG horses and slow to need TIME!   So unless you've owned/bred/trained horses, you ought to think before you start commentary on someone's training methods and knowledge.  

22 Oct 2008 8:57 AM


Completely disagree with your logic.  In face I believe the opposite, that pushing and racing youngsters before they have had time to fully develop is causing more injury and tragedy.  I also think most "unsound" type breakdowns occur in the front legs and not the hind.  The hind legs propel and the weight forward and the front legs take most the impact.  Barbaro's was different and a freak occurrence, perhaps he was even minutely clipped in the heel... speculation of that is irreverent now.

However, look at Curlin.  He did not even race until 3, he was in all three TC races, and look at him, he is tough as nails, built like a tank.  I have every faith and confidence in Matz and in no way imaginable do I hold him responsible for Barbaro's tragedy.  I know he will do what is best for Nicanor.

22 Oct 2008 9:20 AM
s lee

Nicanor may be growing in height, or he may just be growing into his body, like a lot of teenagers.  I had a Connemara once who couldn't get out of his own way until he was 4!  I've never seen a horse trip over himself so much!  But once he figured out how many feet he had and how to balance himself, he became a wonderful cross country jumper.  

Nicanor is hacking over trails, which should help him learn how his body works and how to stay in balance, as well as going to the track.

Time will tell if there's a racehorse in that growing body!

22 Oct 2008 10:46 AM

Nicanor is very lucky to be in such capable and caring hands. Michael Matz is one of the best horsemen in the world. I also saw him compete and agree with Needler, his horses were always in spectacular condition. It follows that his race horses would also be in top shape when they compete. I'm sure that a lot of Matz's training philosophy is based on his years of conditioning eventers. As stressful as racing is, eventing, especially over fences puts enormous stress on muscle, tendon and bone. Horses that compete at the top levels, like the ones Matz competed at, are developed slowly, just like Matz is doing with Nicanor. I think we can all rest easy that they are doing everything possible to make sure Nicanor is strong and agile when he steps onto the track for his first race. As far as his height goes, I would expect him to be big, Dynaformer is 17 hands or maybe 17.1. I think Barbaro was 17 hands also. Fair Hill has a website and they do have barn tours. However, im not sure you will get to see Nicanor. Might have to request that thru Matz's barn. Amanda, any new word on the other two yr olds at Fair Hill? I saw Ice Road ran a dismal race at Kenneland. Think he was 6th or 7th. I had hoped he would do better then that. As always, thanks for the updates.

22 Oct 2008 10:48 AM

Please leave Brother Derek out of this!

22 Oct 2008 11:08 AM

I am making no comment on the handling of this individual horse, but this is silly:

"He's a Dynaformer.  Anyone expecting this horse to compete at 2 or even early 3 is expecting a lot.  Dynaformers need time..."

The best two-year-old filly in the world, Rainbow View, is by Dynaformer. Generalizations are only useful to an extent...

22 Oct 2008 11:52 AM

Thanks for the update. Can't wait for another picture.

22 Oct 2008 12:21 PM

I am curious. Is Michael Matz training Nicanor the same way as he did Barbaro? I don't believe that a lot of people were following Barbaro progress the way we are trying to follow Nicanor's progress. And I don't believe Nicanor is because Barbaro was racing at 2 if memory serves me correctly, which means that Barbaro was following a more vigorous training program than Nicanor currently is on.

I have always believed that Barbaro had a terrible accident in the Preakness, brought on by another horse or the ground the horses were running on. In no way should Michael Matz be blamed.

I for one hope Nicanor makes it to the Triple Crown because I have a feeling that he may just have the best shot in decades at the Triple Crown. Nicanor is already doing the cardio/endurance work on the trails. He trains twice a week at the track for speed and Michael is allowing Nicanor to have fun while he is training. Let's face it, if Michael and the Jacksons didn't believe Nicanor had serious potential, I don't believe he would still be at Fair Hill.  

22 Oct 2008 1:17 PM

I have an image of Nicanor standing toe to toe with Babe the Blue Ox......

thanks for the updates.

22 Oct 2008 3:38 PM

a little birdie from Fair Hill told me yesterday that Nicanor is just over 17 hands right now.

22 Oct 2008 3:41 PM
carol from portland

I would not hold my breath waiting for Nicanor's racing debut.  Just reading between the lines I would guess that the trainers have discovered that Nicanor is not terribly interested in racing or training at this point which is just fine.  I think it is better not to push the horse into something he doesn't want to do.

22 Oct 2008 5:16 PM

What happen to Barbaro whas a injury that can hapen anyday in racing Michael Matz is very good trainer. Nicanor is a race horse and when he is ready to run they will know maybe he has not developing as fast as eveyone wants he could be tha ther is something not right with him right now and they are not saying i can understand that he will be ready in time i am okay with that watch the Breeders Cup this weekend i think that Student Councel is going to run well.

22 Oct 2008 8:10 PM

People we must understand that Nicanor may never run in the Kentucky Derby like his brother Barbaro. I don't care if he ever races he still special to me.

22 Oct 2008 10:00 PM

mdfan,   Dynaformer is that big, and my one encounter with a Dynaformer colt (Boss Lafitte--out of War Thief by Lord at War) left me in awe. If Nicanor's getting anywhere near that size, he's gonna look like a man among boys first time out!   Like many of you, I don't care where that it, I just want him to get to his career destination (be it on the flat, jumping, or not even racing), as long as he gets there in a healthy state.  

22 Oct 2008 11:52 PM

I think i should just point out that all the scientific studies (you can go read them) have shown that two year olds in full training and racing are significantly LESS likely to suffer catastrophic breakdowns due to increased bone loading and strength. You have to 'train' the bones to be strong from a young age, albeit with care obviously.

In England, horses who have raced as two year olds on the flat are far less likely to breakdown when they start their jumping careers as older horses than those horses who have been put aside in a field, not raced as 2/3 year olds and started jump racing aged 4+.

Whilst some people believe as JLF does, in actual fact all scientific, published studies i've seen (i have a Masters in equine studies) appear to disagree.

23 Oct 2008 6:46 AM

Maybe neither Nicanor or Lentenor will be successful at the racetrack.  That's okay, they could end up as three day event horses, show jumpers (too bad Michael doesn't compete any more) or even steeplechasers (McDynamo anyone?) Who knows, let's wait & see....  

23 Oct 2008 12:14 PM

I live just 8 miles from the Fairhill race track; I go there often to watch the horses work out. But they are very particular, I have been approached several times, they want to know if I am an owner, etc.  I say "no, I am just here to see the horses..." They are polite but tell me it is private, etc. The horses are, of course, very valuable, they remind of this. But to date I have been polite, they have accepted me and even offered me a private tour, so I guess I have done the right thing. I have seen Nicanor breeze once, truly an amazing thing to see....will he ever be a champion like Barbaro?? Probably not.....but he is a beautiful horse......

24 Oct 2008 12:00 AM

Rockland was so well behaved for his race.  He waited patiently in the gate for several other horses who resisted being loaded several times each,and were finally loaded. Then he ran his first race and came in 3rd!  He is a beautiful boy, too! He worked out recently and hopefully will race again soon. Ice Road had a difficult run at Keeneland.  Beautiful boy, though.

24 Oct 2008 4:33 AM

Rainbow View is a great filly, with an awesome 2-year old campaign.  Also, Nicanor's damsire, Carson City had a great record and reputation for producing Juvinille success, and was a good 2 year old himself-- but the reality is almost half of the Dynaformers don't race at 2.  One has to think that his well documented size and  his attitude issues have alot to do with it.

24 Oct 2008 12:25 PM

I think it is wonderful that an insider that knows an insider would give us a little insight into how much Nicanor has grown. If memory serves me, Nicanor was around 15.4 hands when he arrived at Fair Hill. And now he is over 17 hands high. We probably need confirmation on this, but if this information is correct, it may explain why everyone is going easy on Nicanor...poor baby. Imagine growing 6+ inches give or take in four months...woo-e, he's big.

24 Oct 2008 2:53 PM

A spectacular filly named Zenyatta just won the Breeder's Cup Distaff.

She is over 17 hands, is a dark Bay, and is beautiful and commanding on and off the racetrack.  I looked at her and thought of Nicanor.  That he may be over 17 hands already is mind boggling.  Zenyatta apparently began racing "later" rather than "sooner" and she is unbeatten.  That they are taking such care with him suggests that he has a ton of ability and they are just waiting a bit for him to catch up mentally as well.  They all know what they are doing.  We must be patient.  Watch TVG -- lots of good horses racing daily there.  Curlin runs tomorrow

and so does Casino Drive.

24 Oct 2008 9:11 PM

I agree Nicanor is special.  It will either take him a long time to get to the races or he may never race at all.  We will have to see if he goes to Florida with Michael this winter.

24 Oct 2008 10:14 PM
Majella from Ireland

Im not American but Ive noticed this: Zenyatta didnt race until NOVEMBER of her 3rd year long after the Triple Crown. Now look at her, shes probably going to be Horse of the Year. The Triple Crown/ fillies Triple Crown is not everything. Even if Nicanor misses the Triple Crown he could still be a great horse. (Again Cigar missed the Triple Crown, as did Seabiscuit and countless other great horses.)

25 Oct 2008 6:31 AM

Kim, that is what they said about Barbaro - a man among boys.  Watching the magnificent and very big Zenyatta yesterday, I thought about Nicky and had a feeling that I would see them both at the same time one day.

25 Oct 2008 2:39 PM

To all of those who are upset he's not running: just remember, Curlin never ran at two either.

You know, Curlin? Horse of the Year? North American record holder in earnings?

25 Oct 2008 3:49 PM

Classic Dynaformer youngster, no need to be worried about him.  He should be exciting to look for as a three-year-old

25 Oct 2008 7:14 PM

By the way, growing up, doesn't always mean size.  It is a maturity level also.  Racing is a thinking horses game.  Like Curlin, he knows what he is doing, and shows it.  A foolish or immature colt can get hurt.  

25 Oct 2008 8:26 PM

Here's the thing--- Zenyatta won the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic on Friday and just might win a Horse of the Year award. Zenyatta never ran a lick as a 2yr old and only raced at the end of her 3rd year and won both times. The reason she never raced is because she is over 17 hands and needed a lot of time to develope. If your going to state that a  horse need/should/must/etc race as a two yr old be prepared to explain the exception or at least agree that the rule is not cast in stone nor apply to every horse. Seems like a lot of us have said Dynaformers need more time to develope due too their size. Don't recall anybody saying "all". Not all Dynaformers are big, some are built like their dams. Anyway Zenyatta and a lot of horses like her prove they don't need to race at any set timetable. Can you say Curlin?        

25 Oct 2008 9:14 PM

This horse needs to be running in the Kentucky Derby next year.  Period.  Racing needs a hero, and what a story this would be if Nicanor runs it, and wins it.  The casual fan needs a reason to get excited again about racing, and Nicanor's presence in the race will do just that.

26 Oct 2008 9:45 AM

In the book Barbaro: A Nation's Love Story, Barbaro's growth spurts and training routine pretty much parallel's Nicanor's.  Including the hacking in the woods and on the trails, interspersed with morning gallops.  If it is indeed true that Nicanor is over 17 hands (and I am not surprised, he'd caught up to Messaging on July 12 aas far as his height was concerned), he is going to be huge!  Lentenor was projected to be even bigger than either of his brothers as a younger horse.

They got their sire's size and strength and their mom's sweetness and beautiful eyes.  The best, just the best!

26 Oct 2008 1:51 PM

Its great for raceing to see the great following this horse has however dont be let down full brothers are often very different dont be let down

26 Oct 2008 6:25 PM

I would like somebody to get confirmation with Mr Brette or somebody else from the stables that Nicanor is 17 hands already. Going from 15.2 to 17 hands in the time frame he has been at Fair Hill is alarmingly fast. If it is true, there is almost no way his bone structure would be capable of handling racing speed right now. Take your time Mr Matz. Don't worry about us armchair trainers lol.

26 Oct 2008 6:53 PM

It as noted that Rainbow View takes after her dam and is a little smaller than usual.  In Nicanor's case, his brother first grew up and then filled out to catch up with his height. So, we are probably witnessing the same process with Nicky.  He's grown tall and now needs to "fill out".

27 Oct 2008 1:44 PM

Good to here he's alright! I can't wait to see him race!! I wonder if he'll race on turf first like Barbaro. I believe he is going to be great! Lentenor too! And I'm super excited for their mom's coming baby ^^

27 Oct 2008 3:11 PM
Deb G.

Nicanor is a gorgeous horse and I will relay some info. as a sort of FYI.  I was able to visit with Nicanor in May.  While there he was OVERLY excited to see me, acting like a 16 year old boy going through puberty - seeming young.  He is a beautiful horse with a very kind eye.  Like Barbaro.  Since I have seen his "boyish ways", I think it is wonderful they are allowing him the time he needs to "grow up", because I certainly thought he had some maturing to do, but was doing very well.  Each horse has their own time frame.  Just offer support to his folks taking care of him.  They are ALL wonderful and very loving with him.  He is in the BEST care and hands and you can be very assured the Jacksons and Michael Matz know exactly what they are doing!  :-)

27 Oct 2008 5:52 PM

funny how my last comment wasn't posted.......afraid that telling the TRUTH about Mr. Matz and THOROUGHBRED RACING AS A WHOLE will open an eye or two. Mr. Matz did race that horse when she was tied up, and does have the same motivation as all thorougbred trainers do, to win cash. here's the link to the story about the race in question, i would post this (as well as my previous comment), just to let the readers decide for themselves

27 Oct 2008 8:13 PM

I would bet that the talent runs in the family!  Suspect that that is another reason he's being protected.

They know what they have in Nicanor and they want to maximize his potential and make certain that he is at his very best.

27 Oct 2008 11:25 PM

Zenyatta is 3xRoberto(mare), and 3xMr.Prospector(sire thru Street Cry). Nicanor is 2xRoberto, and 3xMr.Prospector, inverted to Zenyatta---I'll guarantee you Darley, Ferguson, and friends will be paying high bucks for this Nick, at every opportunity.

28 Oct 2008 12:58 PM

Waiting for the right time? Missing 2 and some of 3? Think Zenyatta! She's a very big girl and I doubt anybody right now will criticize her training and racing regimen! I'd love to see Nicanor racing like a monster at 5 even if he misses at 3. Keep up the great work Mr. Matz!

28 Oct 2008 1:32 PM

Would someone please explain to me and perhaps others what "tied up" means. Sounds like something digestive, but I sure don't know about some of these horse terms dealing with a horse that isn't well.

28 Oct 2008 4:18 PM

applause to you Amanda (hope I have your name correct, couldn't find your name anywhere but in comments), happy to see my last comment was deemed postworthy. my feather ruffling was not just for feather ruffling's sake, but to perhaps shed a bit of light on the subject. Mr Matz is a fine trainer, but hardly a saint. he may care deeply for his animals, but not so deeply that he would take pause and refrain from sending an animal that was clearly not ready to race out to the oval. Round Pond is just one example, and forgive me for not having the resources to dig deeper to further prove my point. Alas, Mr. Matz is hardly the only conditioner sending horses out in that condition, but you folks commenting here at this site talk as if he can do NO WRONG. i have a lot of respect for Mr. Matz, and likewise respect ALL of your comments......just hoping you can see my side of the argument for just a moment.

thanks again

28 Oct 2008 7:04 PM

Rick, you'r an idiot.

28 Oct 2008 11:24 PM

I'm very happy to hear Nicanor is ok and not being pushed.Everyone developes at their own pace.I was very concerned about Nicanor since I hadn't heard about him for quite some time.

29 Oct 2008 3:49 AM

at least i can spell "you're"!!!!!

29 Oct 2008 9:43 AM

I looked it up. Tied up is associated with exertion. Muscles in the back, loin area, and hamstrings tighten up and are painful to the horse. Advance cases can cause dehydration and renal failure among other ailments. Round Pond is an 8 almost 9 year old horse that had symptoms of azoturia. Now if I were the owner or trainer of this horse, I would have insisted on a veterinarian checking on him. There are also veterinarians on the track that regularly scratch horses that are not feeling well, even as they are in the gate. And I for one do not believe there are many saints in the world, let alone in the horse industry. But it must be very hard for anyone to be placed under the microscope as he is. All I said was Michael Matz was not at fault for Barbaro's accident, I don't keep a tally of his mistakes. I have heard of a couple of names this past weekend that have had bigger issues than Michael Matz has had.

Hopefully he and other trainers strive for as few mistakes as possible and that is all one can ask for. And if they don't, then the ones that run the industry should take stronger action against the bad ones.

29 Oct 2008 9:57 AM

I enjoy reading everyone's comments and love reading new information about the Barbaro Jackson family.  

Rick, for the most part I don't think that any of us think MM is perfect.  But it is obvious that the connections of Barbaro/Nicanor/Lentenor are in general very caring people.  Many of us prayed day and night for Barbaro and his connections when his tragedy occurred.  Many of us still pray for all of his connections and pray for his brothers.  What I am trying to say is that we are looking for the good in people in the darkness.  This does not mean anyone is perfect, just means we see the best in people.  And Rick, even though you have "ruffled" some feathers, you are still reading this blog.  Please keep your negativity under control and strive for a better outlook in life.  I work at a hospital and am amazed at what an incredible difference prayer, love, and a positive outlook make in bleak situations.  I am not saying that these things always "fix" people, but they certainly cope better and impact other's lives in a more positive manner.    

29 Oct 2008 10:47 AM

Rockland is running again on Friday at Laurel for those of you living in Maryland (my former home).  He's a young horse with much potential.  He's calm, well behaved and came in 3rd in his first race.

29 Oct 2008 3:16 PM

Rick get a life and another blog. How many times do you need to be insulted before you have the sense to shut up. Michael Matz would not enter a horse in a race that was in distress. The track Vet and everybody else would know about it and the horse would be scratched. Do trainers run horses that clearly won't win but need a race? Of course they do and it is up to you as a consumer to make informed choices before you bet. Do owners insist on running their horses when the trainer thinks otherwise? I imagine so but an honest and respected trainer would not be associated with such an owner. You slander Michael Matz with your insane allegations. Do I think he's perfect? Of course not but what does that have to do with his being a top notch horseman? Evaluating someones talent and ability is not blind trust nor hero worshiping. The fact of the matter is Mrs & Mr Jackson intrusted Barbaro with Michael because they heard/knew he was very capable and just starting out as a trainer. Since everyone seemed to recognize Barbaro's potential, why would the Jacksons let Michael have him if their was any question? I respect Mr and Mrs Jackson and trust their judgement. I don't believe anyone would say the same about you.    

29 Oct 2008 8:45 PM

If Nicanor DOES go to Florida for the Winter, will there be a  blackout on updates?

29 Oct 2008 10:59 PM

I watched the Ladies Classic this weekend and enjoyed watching Zenyatta bulldoze the competition. I am glad her owners plan on racing her again next year so long as she remains healthy and enjoys it so much. I especially enjoyed her sizing up her competition before the race. Man is she ever feisty.

And I watched the video of Cigar on this website recently. He is one stallion who managed to win big and still managed to remain a big kid at heart. I think Nicanor will do just fine as a race horse.

30 Oct 2008 1:38 AM

To MVH. I'm thinking that if Nicanor does go to Florida for the winter, that would be a good sign and I imagine this website would continue with their coverage. I for one truly appreciate the coverage this website has given to Barbaro's bothers.

30 Oct 2008 8:23 PM

well I'm startin to think this horse will not make his debut until he's three...

30 Oct 2008 10:56 PM

Thank you the update on 'Nic'.  Certainly with Zenyatta being undefeated when she only started racing in the fall of her 3 year old season drives home the logic to wait until the horse is ready for the track!

31 Oct 2008 11:16 AM

Okay, I hope Nicanor is in the Derby, but I don't care if he takes on the steps of Barbaro, let's see him win the Classic next year. I don't think he'll be anything like Barbaro, he could be a claimer, and he could be horse of the year, but there will never be another Barbaro, but he could be better then Barbaro was. And even if he never wins a race, I know I'll try to make it to the track to see him race, just like most of you!

31 Oct 2008 12:14 PM
D in Las Vegas

I truly hope that they allow Nicanor to come into his own without being pushed into races he isn't prepared for. For example. Zenyatta is a breathtaking filly and she reminds me of a past great who shouldn't be fogotten; Forego. The way she closes a race like there is no competition is just like how he raced in the 70's. But mind you, it took Forego much longer to mature and to become that legend. He was born in 1970, the same year as Secretariat, and even ran the the K.D. but he was still growing and wasn't a great racehorse until age 4,5,6+ when he came into his own found his stride and his style. He raced long after Big Red was retired and even though he didn't win a Triple Crown, that horses name should be mentioned in the same breath as Secretariat and Seattle Slew. In my opinion Zenyatta's style and ability will serve her well especially since she will continue to race as an 'older filly/mare' I hope that Nicanor is able to find his stide and become one to make his own place in history. His brother did, and we will speak his name with love forever. Good luck and all the best to Nicanor

31 Oct 2008 3:37 PM


you must not know much about racehorses. for one, his name was Barbaro, not Barbara. second, It was not training that caused Barbaro to break down. he stepped Sideways on his own foot, causing it to shatter...Matz is a great trainer. He's like Larry Jones...awesome trainer and horseman that had great horses break down on them. it happens. you can't keep it from happening. Also, Waiting for a horse to muture, is better than racing it too early. racing too early triples the potential for injury. so, by waiting, the likelihood of him breaking down is less.

31 Oct 2008 4:33 PM
Chuck Wright

Safe bet he will never start. Matz won't start him with even a pimple on him. Too much pressure. At some point they will announce he has been retired to stud. All they are doing is delaying the inevitable. My guess is every time they get going problems appear.

31 Oct 2008 5:28 PM


with all due respect (which is quite more than you have shown me), i have provided the evidence to back up my "insane allegations". read the article, open your eyes.

31 Oct 2008 6:09 PM
Linda Maryland

I do not really care of Nicanor runs in the Triple Crown as long as he is safe and healthy. There are other races to run and his health is more important.

Michael Matz is one of the best trainers out there. He cares about his horses. That is the reason Roy and Gretchen Jackson use him. They care about their Horses.

God Bless Barbaro and his family.


02 Nov 2008 9:05 AM

It appears to me that Michael Matz is taking care to minimize inflamation to Nicanor's cannon bones while building them up with trail riding and light racing on the track. It would be far more devastating to everyone if Nicanor was badly injured than if he lossed a couple of races at the beginning of his career.

I do believe they are not posting times right now so that no comparisons can be made to anyone.

And it would seem to me that if Nicanor has grown a lot, he probably needs to gain some muscle and weight to support his new height. If he is 17 hands plus, it isn't likely he will have another huge growth spurt anytime soon, so they are just waiting for him to fill out a bit.

02 Nov 2008 12:04 PM

Rick, some people see what they want to see inspite of reality or the truth. You stated, and I quote "Mr Matz did race that horse when she was tied up". Read the article again. Michael Matz said she tied-up early in the week but she seemed to be okay, they got a race in her and she would be pointed to the Apple Blossom if she was okay. HE DID NOT RACE HER WHEN SHE WAS TIED UP! According to Dr Lydia Miller, equine vet affiliated with the extension unit at the university of Ill. College of Veterinary medicine at Urbana, tying-up is a muscle disorder associated with exertion and like anything else there are various levels of severity. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the horse can resume working out or racing when blood tests are normal. You see Rick, tying-up is confirmed by blood test. In Round Ponds case, you can bet your life it was done. Steve Haskins article in the Bloodhorse dated April 9, 2007, is about the retirement of Round Pond due to an injury. In that article Rick Porter talks about Round Ponds health problems, how she had a history of tying-up and how much she meant to him. I suggest you read that article and maybe, just maybe you will become more educated on the subject of Round Ponds condition before you spout off about Michael Matz. I stand by my previous statements to you.

03 Nov 2008 12:42 AM

I'm so excited! I can't wait to see a recent photo, and for his big debute!!

03 Nov 2008 2:08 PM

Am so conflicted.  Chuck's comments are so concerning, and yet, I don't really care about seeing him race.  I just care about seeing him and knowing that he is all right.  This waiting for information is so difficult for us. Imaginations run wild.  I cling to the magnificent Zenyatta's example.  She is such a large horse and she began racing late, perhaps that really is all it is: he's growing so much and they want to give him time to catch up in girth and maturity before  prepping him to race.  Wish we could see a current picture.

04 Nov 2008 1:35 AM

I don't believe that Michael Matz would say something that isn't in the game plan. I don't personally believe anything is wrong with Nicanor other than a huge growth spurt.

My question has always been, why keep up pretenses by lightly training Nicanor if he isn't going to race.

04 Nov 2008 10:53 AM

Hi all hope to hear from nic soon and len.You know it would be nice if the jacksons would buy george washington's only foal a filly to be sold nov. 21 ......yea

04 Nov 2008 1:15 PM

There was a blood test on Round Pond after she had tied up. Her blood tests came out fine, there was a meeting with the Fair Hill vet along with the exercise rider, asistants, everyone and they all saw it was safe to run her. She tied up on a wednesday, and the blood tests were done sometime between that day and friday, and they decided on friday if she should run.

04 Nov 2008 4:20 PM
susan nova

So I read Jon's comments about mistakes being made... frankly if you look closely... they are being conservative... I am with many that don't agree that Barbaro was fragile... if he was, he would have not fought as long as he did and as hard as he did... yeah, he had a lot of heart... but his body held together in a tough spot for a long time. Most horses aren't that strong... I would much rather bring one along slower, than push him to hard to early... I used to show western pleasure on the QH circuit, and was given a hard time because I wouldn't put my young mare into training until she was a late 3... she is more sound than other horses her age who had the hammer dropped on them in training... as many trainers put it... much like the little league pitchers of our day... many of them that are really good and talented and stand a chance at the pro's... are used up early, and have arm issues before they get out of college... don't tell me I don't know what I am talking about... my Brother In Law is a little league coach and does rehab for sports related injuries. He is amazed at how many kids arms or knees are totaled by the time they are 18... You want another example… Figure Skating… so just WHY did Tara Lipinski go pro post Olympics? Because she was starting a growth spurt, and she didn’t want to loose to Michelle Kwan again… guess what…  26 year old Lipinski has had hip surgery 2 times and now no longer skates… all because of the stress of the jumps required to compete at the Olympic level… which was her choice…. so lay off of Matz and the Jacksons for their choice.... Matz is one of a very special few trainers who truly care and know their horses so well.. while the TC is always in the back of ones mind... The last time we heard that Matz had an entrant in any of the TC races was Barbaro... I believe this is only because he won't push his charges to hard to early... If you feel you must criticize, please take a look at his eventing career… which is just as hard as racing… you don’t take a young horse to the big dance in eventing – and you don’t take a horse who is not physically ready or able to it either… in Horse Racing there are a lot of other trainers who wouldn’t think twice about putting Nic on the line now and pounding his young legs until they fall part.. I think Matz’s goal with all his horses is to have them sound and healthy… and if that means that Nic needs time to grow… then that is what he needs… you are NOT the one training this horse… watching his work outs or his hacks…. Let’s allow Nic what he needs…

04 Nov 2008 4:52 PM

Rockland just won his Maiden at Meadowlands!  He's Nic's work buddy and he is a fine, beautiful boy in his own right.  Way to go, Rocky!

05 Nov 2008 2:26 PM

Evidently, Barbaro went through a growth surt ashortly after he arrived at Fair Hill and Michael had him funning up the hills and trails and lightly galloping on the track until he caught up with himself and filled out and the words Michael used in describing him were the same he uses about Nicanor.  They are full brothers and it would seem reasonable that

they would be similar.  Read Barbaro: America's Horse.  It's all there.

05 Nov 2008 2:41 PM

it should have been "growth spurt" and "running".  I apologize.  The way Michael and Peter handle Nicanor is nearly exactly what they did with Barbaro.  They even spoke of giving Barbaro time to mature and that he'd tell them when he was ready to race.

I just can't imagine what it will be like when Lentenor joins them at Fair Hill next Spring.  How blessed we all are by these boys.

06 Nov 2008 1:11 AM

Happy for Rockland - the Smarty Jones babies are doing exceptional so far.

07 Nov 2008 8:08 AM

will NICANOR be goin hurdeling or chasing this year or will he continue in training until your sure his ready???

08 Nov 2008 7:44 AM

Here's wishing everyone, Nicanor and Lentenor and the Jacksons and Michael and Team, a very wonderful Thanksgiving.

24 Nov 2008 1:46 AM
Pa Equestrian

To Cassidy: YES FAIRHILL IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.. You can Drive up, Park even walk up to the track and watch the horses breeze if you get there early enough.A few trainers I know of there allow the public in the barns as well.

That said and done.. Whoever asked if he sends all of his horses down to FL.. The answer is he takes the majority of them and I will explain in due time.. He even takes a few personal horses down with him since Florida is where nearly everyone up here winters.. its Florida or Aiken , SC. Micheal Chooses Florida because of how warm it is and the lack of snow allows for more Good days out and less of a chance of Injury due to ice or snow which we get up here. I live maybe 4 miles if that from Micheals HOUSE in Pennsylvania and about 15 - 20 miles from Fair Hill ( its approx a 20 minute drive there and yes I have been there several times) . Anyways, Point in case.. The Horses He takes down to Florida are all horses that are either currently racing in their career, or are nearing their Debut, or are preparing for a major race ( ie the TC races) For a variety of reasons, but mainly so he can supervise thier progress better as this is where he winters as well as for training purposes. Florida has a different set of turf, Ground and footing than up here and this exposes the horse to a variety of environments thus broadening its horizon's if you will. The horses that are left behind up here, are either preparing to go home, coming off injury or illness, or are far enough along in thier career that he doesnt need to watch them 24/7. Not to mention, Nicanor is  what would be called a "high-profile" horse due to his brothers success and fame.

I hope this adds a little insight into why wintering in Florida or other "warmer" places is desired. Remember these horses haveto compete on a variety of surfaces and footing and in an array of conditions( snow not typically being one of them nor is Ice for obvious reasons) and tho fairhill may have a nice set-up, Breezing or even what they do to train and condition these horses is not ideal for winter weather up here. Horses get sweaty and whatnot and exposure at the temps we see is not favorable when your horse is sweating and NEEDS a bath ( most of fair hill's washracks are outdoors with the exeption of 1 or 2 barns there).So yeah.. Enough babbling on my behalf. Micheal is an Excellent Horseman and always puts the horses needs, concerns and safety first. He knows how a horse grows and developes and will not push him past those current abilities or factors. Oh and whoever asked if he would be jumping him to build muscle.. Highly doubtful at Nicanor's age.. he is still growing for starters, and most breeds dont start jumping until thier 3rd or 4th year as it is Not only very physically demanding on the horse, But its extremely mentally demanding as well. you cant just point the horse at a jump and he goes over it, Sorry Doesnt happen. Horses have to pay attention to the jump as well, learn when to leave the ground, as well as a variety of other factors which are unfavorable when a horse is merely 2 yrs old. My old horse when he was 2, went thru a phase which most people dont realize racehorses go thru as well.. and just like a child we called it his "terrible 2's" because anything he could get his teeth on, he did, and he was interested in everything and anything and scared of alot. His primary interest at that age is play, run, play, Run some more, eat, sleep a little and play a bit more.By taking him on trails Micheal is not only expanding his horizon's, but also teaching him not to fear a good bit of things, sudden noises or movements and jsut about any other oddity ( in the horses world that is) that is bound to happen at a track.

That all being said.. I wish him good luck and hope he is as successful as his brother was in whatever it is he does. Be it steeple chasing ( which again he wont run in that till atleast 3 due to the jumping involved), Flat racing, or another form of riding. After-all micheal matz doesnt ONLY do racing, I have driven by on days he was NOT at the track but at home and have seen him Jumping his own horses at his house ( the areana is in view of the road as you come down the hill ) So who knows what the future holds for this bright young colt.. Just know he WILL be great, but its gonna take some time.

16 Dec 2008 8:16 PM
Top Turf Teddy

Nicanor is suffering from the "Younger Brother Syndrome."  How would you like it if all you heard around the stable and paddock is "there he is, Barbaro's brother."  That is a lot to live up to, and most horses will simply give up, knowing they are up against it, so why try?  With therapy and time, he may be able to overcome the depression and fear of failure, and will come to the realization that he is his own man, and not to be compared to any family members, no matter how great.

24 Sep 2010 9:59 AM

Recent Posts

We Recommend...

Recommended Reading

More Blogs