Joe Barbazon admits to having had a bad case of butterflies in his stomach just prior to the $3-million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) last November at Santa Anita Park. The nerves were understandable because Presious Passion, a then 6-year-old gelding he bred with his wife, Helen, was moments away from running the biggest race in the lives of all those involved—the horse, the Barbazons, and owners Patricia and Frank Generazio.
Barbazon’s anxiousness gave way to sheer excitement while watching Presious Passion turn in an electrifying performance in the 11/2-mile Turf, as the son of Royal Anthem rolled out to his customary huge lead while setting seemingly suicidal fractions, then dug in with tremendous heart as he desperately struggled to hold off defending champion Conduit in the stretch. Though Presious Passion would eventually be tackled just yards from the wire and come up a half-length shy, his runner-up effort was nothing short of sensational.
It didn’t take long after the race for Barbazon to digest what had just transpired. And you can bet the moment was not lost upon a man who came from the most humble beginnings.
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