Every day, about 12,000 people from around the world look to Alex Brown to answer one burning question: How’s Barbaro?
Ever since the Kentucky Derby-winning Fair Hill horse broke his leg in a tragic Preakness misstep, the Web site Brown maintains
has become a premiere source for fans who need a daily dose of information.
Before May, Brown lived a quiet life exercising horses for four Fair Hill trainers including Tim Woolley, who has kept a stable at the training center for 11 years. As a side project, Brown also maintained the Web site www.timwoolleyracing.com, which then mostly listed racing stats on Woolley’s horses. Back then, about six people logged on the site per day, Brown said.
But that was before the gentle bay colt called Barbaro burst onto the national horseracing scene. Barbaro, who lived and trained next door to Woolley’s barn, astounded everyone when he won the Kentucky Derby by more than six lengths May 6. Two days later, Barbaro came back to Fair Hill a sudden star and started training for the May 20 Preakness.
Brown had an idea.
“I told (Woolley), ‘Let’s start putting up daily Barbaro updates, to try to build traffic to our Web site,’” Brown said.
Each day, he’d watch Barbaro scamper around the training track and he’d talk to the horse’s trainer, Michael Matz. Then he’d write an update and post it on Woolley’s site. The number of daily visitors to the site climbed to about 120 that week, Brown said.
Then came Preakness weekend. Barbaro burst through the starting gate early. He shattered his leg minutes later and paramedics rushed him to the New Bolton Center for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pa. with the outlook grim.
“After the disaster at Preakness, everyone in Fair Hill was devastated,” Brown said. “It was just such a shock. We weren’t going to cover Barbaro anymore.”