Poor Big Brown. The large media contingent he faces daily is a Heaven sent blessing compared to the "Hatfields and McCoys" act he endures around his stall from those who "say" they respect, love and revere the animal. Now to make it worse, the quasi mascot for UPS went out today and won the Haskell Stakes in New Jersey. 45,000 race fans lined the fence to witness 'Brown do something he has not done before. With only a few hundred yards remaining to the finish line, Big Brown did his best imitation of the great mare Serena's Song, put his head and belly down, and overcame the long shot on the rail to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a solid time of 1:48:1 for the mile and an eighth. Oh, he won 60% of of a million bucks with his effort, but in a post race interview, his trainer, Rick Dutrow, said that that "I thought we were beat today". In all honesty, Dutrow had instructed jockey Kent Desormeaux to "not interfere" with Big Brown and just let him run his race. If the horse was happy and calling his own shots, all would work out well. In quick order after the horses broke from the gate, Kent HAD to interfere with the horse as 'Brown was determined to burst to a lead and engage one of Nick Zito's speed horses.
If the group of "gentlemen" who make up IEAH Stables and trainer Dutrow, are truly aware of what happened to their horse today, they will come to a few new conclusions:
1) In a difficult race today, Big Brown was forced to show another part of his equine arsenal. Unlike the past, he had to rate behind a horse who was fit and ready to run today and make up the difference down the stretch...'Brown came home running the last eighth of a mile in 16 seconds. Don't underestimate your big horses heart and his athletic tendencies to be able to show a new dimension in his race running.
2) Give your jockey your blessing and your flexibility before he and Big Brown begin their next quick trip around some major track in some Grade 1. Desormeaux is in tune with this horse. ONLY he knew in the Belmont that SOMETHING was amiss in the way Big Brown galloped around that final turn and eased him. Only weeks later did photographic proof give credence to the jock's intuitions about 'Brown on Belmont Day. The horse had his right rear shoe torn from the hoof by a trailing horse in the first part of that race. As he was entering the hard surface of the entry to the paddock, the shoe re-attached to the hoof...as if nothing happened.
More than likely, the next month will be a 3 ring circus as to where Big Brown races again. I hope that his connections show some horse sense and choose not to run against Curlin just yet. My best bet is the MassCap in New England on September 20. With the Breeder's Cup Classic being the apple of the IEAH Stables eye, surely Dutrow will begin to get to the bottom of his athlete's heart and mind. Oh...while he is at it, maybe Dutrow will try and patch up this rift between all of the connections and let Big Brown feel some love.
HASKELL INVITATIONAL S. (G1)
4 Big Brown 2.40 2.10 2.10
6 Coal Play 8.00 4.20
2 Cool Coal Man 2.80