Where's Waldo, I mean Big Brown?

I am sticking both my blogs together this week in order to report and comment on something that I find rather bizarre. It concerns Big Brown. Remember when he was the talk of all racing from March to June, the sport’s next superstar who had performed deeds never before seen? Remember the hordes of media that congregated outside his barn the week before the Belmont Stakes, most of them convinced they were going to witness racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 30 years?

Well, when was the last time you saw Big Brown’s name anywhere of prominence? What in the world happened in such a short period of time? The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has had two works in the past two weeks and they both have gone virtually unreported by the major online publications. The Daily Racing Form managed to get a small three-paragraph item of the second work on their website at 6:42 p.m. that evening. A check of several racing message boards and forums produced one minor mention of the second work and nothing of the first work. You would think both works would be a much-talked about subject. Now that Big Brown has turned in two solid five-furlong works – in 1:02 3/5 and 1:01 1/5 – it would only be natural to assume websites would be reporting them in as much detail as possible and people would be talking about them. But it’s as if they barely existed. As IEAH’s vice-president of investor relations Mike Sherack said to co-president Michael Iavarone, “It’s like this horse has fallen off the face of the Earth.”

So, what happened? Trainer Rick Dutrow isn’t talking much, and hasn’t acknowledged either work in any detail, providing a few mundane words at most, because he apparently is at odds with the media for constantly printing negative things about him. Iavarone has had to endure the backlash of all this, and also is keeping a low profile after many of his quotes were misinterpreted and printed out of context, not to mention the negative twist the New York Times put on an article regarding the equine hospital IEAH is building. Yet through all this, IEAH is winning graded stakes after graded stakes – with Frost Giant, Pure Clan, Benny the Bull, and Kip Deville, as well as listed stakes winner Sharp Susan, in July alone -- and is on its way to having the favorite or second choice in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Sprint, Mile, and Filly & Mare Turf, and who knows what else?

So, as the name Big Brown fades from public view, at least until the Haskell Invitational Handicap, all anyone can do is assume that his works have been satisfactory to his connections. For the record, Iavarone said Big Brown “worked beeeautiful over a track that was like Jones Beach” and that exercise rider Michelle Nevin said it was reminiscent of his works at Palm Meadows early in the year when he was “cutting through the wind and through the track.”

As Iavarone said, “The Haskell cannot come too soon.” I’m sure. A great deal of debris has piled up in front of Big Brown since those happier days of the Preakness, and he is going to have to hurdle it in order to get out in the clean open air again. Those ocean breezes blowing in his face as he charges down the Monmouth stretch would be the perfect elixir.

With communications all but broken off between Big Brown and the public, the colt likely will have to win the Haskell, and impressively, in order to re-connect with the fans. But as of now it looks as if the fans will be forced to go into the Haskell without having a clue whether Big Brown’s works have been satisfactory or not. They might not even know what those works are until they see them in the past performances. So, do they bet the bejeebers out of him even though they’ve been kept pretty much in the dark about the horse? It’s just weird. He has two more strong works scheduled before blowing out three-eighths two days before the Haskell, so maybe the public will somehow be made aware of those works and what the connections thought of them.

What’s really strange about this situation is that there is an excellent chance Big Brown will return the same horse he was before the Belmont and blow his opposition away in the Haskell, and we won’t know how people will react. The fans and the media will have to try to recapture the passion they had for the horse, as well as the awe in which they once held him. Could he have lost that all because of one bad day that likely will forever remain a mystery? Is he suffering the slings and arrows that have been hurled at Dutrow? It would be a shame and an injustice if he is. If he continues to progress in his works, and Dutrow is once again beaming with confidence, as silent as it may be this time to outside ears, then why in the world shouldn’t we expect the real Big Brown to resurface on Aug. 3?

Let’s not forget so quickly the amazing feats this horse accomplished in such a short period of time. Unless he was some force that swept through the sport like a tornado and then quickly disappeared, or unless he has problems of which the public is unaware (which it’s been said is not the case), or unless he was somehow traumatized from his Belmont ordeal, there is absolutely no reason to think he won’t return the same horse he was before the Belmont. A horse like Big Brown doesn’t lose what he had, and what he had was something rare.

So, the bottom line is, Big Brown breezed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Monday and hardly anyone was aware of it. It looked impressive on paper, but what Dutrow thought of it is anyone’s guess. If Dutrow feels he’s been wronged by the media and wishes to keep his distance he has every right to. But the friction that exists is not healthy. One can only hope the void it has created between Big Brown and his once-adoring fans will be filled in the weeks ahead.


Leave a Comment:

Paula Higgins

Big Brown is a GREAT horse and I haven't forgotten him. All great horses have their "Upsets" and as we know that included Man O'War and Secretariat.

15 Jul 2008 8:32 PM

I think the fact that there were no comments when I first read your article, just reaffirms your assertion that his fans have deserted him.  I don't understand why. I love him and hope the old Brownie is back and annihilates the Haskell field. Thanks, Steve, for trying to bring him back as an important topic. I was disappointed Blood Horse and others did not display a photo of him in his workouts unlike in days of old and done recently for Curlin.

15 Jul 2008 8:42 PM

Thank you for this one!!  I've been wondering the same thing, and I couldn't understand what happened to him.  It's like people are assuming that he's no longer any good because he lost that one race.  I hope that he can recapture the glory that he had when he was in the middle of his triple crown run.

15 Jul 2008 8:47 PM
Ron Correll

Steve: I've reported all of Big Brown's works since the Belmont at tracksideview.com along with Pyro's and several other of the 3-year-old pretenders.


15 Jul 2008 8:48 PM

An old time trainer told one of his old trainer friends here about 2 weeks ago that his prediction is we have seen the last of Big Brown and that he doesn't think the colt will run in the Haskell. What precipitated this I couldn't get out of MY trainer friend. His lack of any presence is baffling except to say that maybe the media is keeping a low profile to not bring RD into the limelight.

15 Jul 2008 8:54 PM

I was never a devoted Big Brown supporter, but I think it's too bad that the racing public has begun ignoring this horse.  There's no doubt he's talented.  I'm looking forward to seeing how he does in the Haskell and, hopefully, in the Breeders' Cup.

15 Jul 2008 8:59 PM

I miss all the hoopla that surrounded BB in his Triple Crown quest 'cause I love this horse!  I think the thumb of IEAH has come down on Dutrow.  Iavarone made a comment in the Canadian Press two days ago that he doesn't want any headine worthy proclamations out of Dutrow leading up to the Haskell.  Expects Rick to "be quiet as a mouse and let the horse do the talking".  Sorry to see such strained relations around such a great horse.  Go get 'em BB!

15 Jul 2008 9:00 PM

This is the problem with the sport in general; they only love you until you stop winning. Luckily,  unlike most, Big Brown will be taken care of when his racing career is over. We Hope....    

15 Jul 2008 9:05 PM
Dan Feit

I think the lack of coverage of Big Brown's works in Major Publications has alot to do with the majority of America not paying attention to, or understanding the sport except on 3 days a yr(the 3 Triple Corwn Races).  If nothing was printed, in racing publications, thats hard to believe, who's handling PR at the track he is stationed at, or at Monmouth? Its thier job to sell that.

As for ppl thinking less of his ability because of the Belmont Stakes, chalk it up to the heat, the shoe, deep track, whatever.  This horse, still is a monster, only helped by the cause of a weak crop, made even weaker with the injury to Denis of Cork.  I am sure he will be at least 2-5 for the Haskell, and will probably win convincingly, reminisent of either Florida race this past winter.

As far as Dutrow staying silent, the guy is in a tough spot whatever he says he gets critizied for, and the owners have not run to his defense rather thay have told media outlets he is on "thin ice," whatever that means.  Thats the real shame the guy wins you the Derby then you put him on "thin Ice," one misquote might kick him out of the picture, w/ the IEAH super sensitive image stable.  Whatever happened to loyalty, If someone ever wins me the derby he can rob a bank, have a lower opinion rating than George Bush and still train my horse.

15 Jul 2008 9:11 PM


I'm hoping everyone forgets what a great three year old BB is. If I can get 2/1 on him in the Haskell I'll take a mortgage on the ranch.

I have thrown his Belmont nightmare out completely.  I have never seen a race in which everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.

Looking for a monster effort in NJ.

15 Jul 2008 9:28 PM

I've enjoyed his races, but, again, I'm not getting emotionally invested in a horse that's being hustled off to the breeding shed like most of the top three year olds of the past. I'm sticking with the girls from now on -- they seem to be kept on the track longer.

15 Jul 2008 9:29 PM
Rick S.

Skye, no one knows when Big Brown is actually going to work, so the odds that a photographer (such as myself) is going to hang out at Aqueduct in hopes of getting a work out picture is probably not going to happen.

Now,  Big Brown has worked 3 times on a Monday...

so if I go out to Aqueduct next Monday, he'll work on Tuesday.

Maybe i'll chance it...

15 Jul 2008 9:31 PM



15 Jul 2008 9:33 PM

I remember reading about his works, so he's obviously not being ignored.  What do you want, a feature article every time he steps outside his stall?  You seem to be overly obsessed with Big Brown.  Step back, take a deep breath, and repeat until you calm down: Big Brown is just a horse, not a god.

15 Jul 2008 9:35 PM

hi, steve just a comment. firts they was all this talk in another blog of how colonel john was going to be runner up to big brown for 3yrs old champion after he win the swap and the travers but he loss, so much for that. now i don't think big brown is winning the haskell. i think this is going to be shorter and better field than the others he face and i think he is going to get look in the eye for the firts time and fade out and the horse who is going to do that is Pyro and bb is going to be third and then retire to stud. also what you think of Pyro, and do you think we ever see a rematch with war pass.

15 Jul 2008 9:39 PM

Maybe the fans just got enough of the trainer or Brown's connections.  Big Brown is a wonderful colt, and he can't be faulted for a thing.  All types of personalities own and train horses, but the public should not blame the horse.  I personally believe Brown's trainer is good; he just talks a lot.  The public should give Brown, his trainer, and his connections a break.  Bad breaks occur to everyone.

15 Jul 2008 9:56 PM

What's to get excited about? The horse will probably race at most three more times for a grand total of 9 lifetime starts. Even if he wins his next three races, where does that leave the racing fans?

15 Jul 2008 10:01 PM

I haven't forgotten Big Brown and I can hardly wait to see him run again in the Haskell!  I am holding on to the hope that Curlin won't ship to France (since his turf race was not that great) and that Big Brown & Curlin will race together this year, since they are both phenomenol race horses!  

15 Jul 2008 10:01 PM

Maybe the casual racing fan has deserted him but not me. He was handled terribly from the start in the Belmont; you could see he was full of run, yet forced back. The jockey did not have the intuition to realize this.

I am going to New Jersey to see him run in the Haskell. I think IEAH should put the smooth hands of Edgar Prado on him and then we can watch that horse fly!

I think Big Brown is still a champ and I want to be a witness to his redemption at the track. The Belmont was not a "bounce" or a bad reflection on Brown but rather an ill-timed show of how NOT to ride a racehorse!

15 Jul 2008 10:08 PM

I can't speak to why racing journalists no longer seem interested in Big Brown. It is bizarre. True racing fans, I'll bet, are eagerly awaiting his return.  The only works I really heard about were 2 fairly slow works early on.  I absolutely loved the horse from the day I saw him win the Florida Derby.  I have not lost my devotion to him.  I remember that Curlin winning in Dubai seemed to play second fiddle to the media hype that began after Brown's Florida win.  Now the wind has shifted once again and Curlin is the media darling.  If Big Brown is really pointing to the Haskell, then I'll be front and center rooting him on for what I think will be a winning effort (unless it's horribly hot and humid and he has a shoe come part way off during the race!)Thanks for asking the question that I'm sure alot of people were wondering: where is Big Brown in the news?

15 Jul 2008 10:09 PM

The "quiet" surrounding Big Brown now is a very good thing.  The first half of the year was too much about his connections, medications, and (above all) money.  The second half of the year will be about this great horse and his remarkable talent. He will do all of the talking on the track.

15 Jul 2008 10:09 PM

The whole circus surrounding this horse is what probably turned the public off - it did it for me. If Dutrow doesn't want bad press, then maybe he should not be caught with medication violation after medication violation. Maybe he should not be so boastful. The press is only reporting the story. The claims by the ownership of being a big time Wall Street financier, which were quite inflated do not help, either. I feel sorry for Big Brown. He has the class that his connections lack.

15 Jul 2008 10:10 PM

No one really liked him (at least his connections, they're a part of the package) to begin with. So it's natural that if he didn't win the Triple Crown ... who cares?

Funny Cide raced after his Triple Crown bid, and the years between that and his retirement went virtually unreported outside of racing media.

I don't think Big Brown will garner the front page again in his lifetime even if he wins the Haskell, Travers, Breeder's Cup, 3yo champ, and everything in between - at least not on USA Today, NY Times or Sports Illustrated. It's a known fact that outside of the Triple Crown - the people who watch only those races - don't care.

A workout is nothing compared to the MLB championships for the media. Most people don't even know that's a nice chop for 5 furlongs; or even what 5 furlongs is distance wise.

I wouldn't be surprised if most of America thinks he's been retired already!

15 Jul 2008 10:16 PM

Tiznowbaby: Fillies are interesting.I remember a few of the top class 3yo fillies from the past couple years. It seems like Halfbridled, Folklore and Sweet Catomine were all the next big thing when they were racing. [Won their respective year's bc. juv. filly] Then they all retired well before the fall of their 3yo year.

Halfbridled was a big disappointment to me.

Y'know what sticks around even longer than fillies? Geldings.

;) Poundcake and Johnny Tornado have been 2 geldings I've followed since 2003 and they're still winning. I believe Johnny Tornado just blew 'em over not too long ago in a 1 and 1/2 mile event.

15 Jul 2008 10:23 PM

I myself adore Big Brown about as much as Curlin. His Florida Derby run reminded me a lot of Barbaro's Florida Derby. That was when I noticed him and I knew he'd win the big one. It's a shame how the general public just abandoned him after the Belmont. BB has done many amazing things in his career! Especially in the Derby. Only three (I think) horses have won from post position 20. To overcome that alone is an accomplishment in its self. He really is under appreciated and under estimated. I saw him at the Preakness. HE is a monster and I'm willing to bet he'll destroy the others in the Haskell.

15 Jul 2008 10:25 PM

In my opinion, the powers that be have put a muzzle on Dutrow (or perhaps he learned his lesson the hard way?)& without the mouthpiece extolling Big Brown virtually non-stop who is there to continue in his stead?

In due course, BB will come back into prominence & it will be like deja vu all over again.

It is a good thing to have BB flying below the radar these days. Dutrow had almost run out of superlatives & such high hopes were put on the colt that it all seemed to start working against him. Some people had strong objections to his connections so they had nothing good to say about the surreal BB.  How ridiculous!  The colt couldn't pick his trainer or owner(s). Give credit where credit is due.  In the end it is up to BB to show he has what it takes - once again.  When he bounces back, let's hope Dutrow can contain himself.

15 Jul 2008 10:29 PM

I have not forgotten !!! Noticed the paucity of news lately but the horse is an awesome athlete and will again be in the news.

15 Jul 2008 10:38 PM

When you really care about a horse or anything for that matter, you don't ever turn your back on them no matter what.

Big Brown will always be a great horse and if you were a true supporter you would always think that even if he never races again.

Thanks for the blog.  I always enjoy reading it.

15 Jul 2008 10:39 PM

Big Brown is a great colt.  It is so unfortunate that his connections have failed him and equally so that the public so quickly forgot all that he gave us this spring.  I would love nothing more than for BB to wipe out the Haskell field and go on to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

15 Jul 2008 10:39 PM

I haven't forgotten and am certainly looking forward to redemption in the Haskell.  The media could care less because he didn't win the Crown and no one seems to particularly like his connections--I prefer not to take it out on the horse--it's not his fault, he's done everything ever asked of him, including being pulled up in the Belmont.  Can't wait to see him run away with the Haskell.

15 Jul 2008 10:45 PM

Steve I think you know that I am surely Big Browns biggest fan. What we saw him do at the Kentucky Derby I am confident you will NEVER see again.  Big Brown had a terrible mishap getting his shoe ripped half off in the Belmont and you are right he hasn't lost any talent.  You can't blame the connections for playing it a little closer to the vest.  I thought Dutrow was very honest with the media and they ate him alive.  What should have been the best time of his life turned into a media feeding frenzy and attacks on him for being honest and open.  He will not make that mistake again and the media will now get typical lame answers to questions and not the beautiful bare honest truth. The fans will come back and most have not left and some may even come to like the horse.  The Secretariat protectors may even start to like him now that they can hang the Belmont over his head forever more.  I have a feeling when he runs in a few weeks many will start to realize the amazing talent of Big Brown. I pity any horse who meets him in the Breeders Cup.

15 Jul 2008 10:49 PM

Dan Felt, but can he embarrass you by getting a drug suspension after you came out against drugs, not tell you it was happening and make you look like an a@! thereby causing doubts about your super colt who spit the bit out after winning two legs of the TC decisively after the trainer admitted to taking the colt off his usual steroids. That is what the public who only watches the races three days a year sees and that is how THEY perceive racing.(maybe also on BC days too) As for some of the rest of us, Dutrows catty remarks accusing other trainers of wrong doing instead of accepting responsibility and bragging a brag he didn't back up then deserting his horse and his stable help to answer for him, well that answers for why those of us in racing aren't his fans, the colt disappearing well maybe his owners are finally putting a muzzle on the trainer and telling him one more bad move and he's gone.

15 Jul 2008 10:54 PM

Since we fans of Big Brown can only get information about him through racing publications and web sites, I think it is unfair to blame the lack of publicity about him on us.

It isn't as if we get to control what sport reporters cover, after all.  They make their decision, publish what they want, and claim it is what WE want to hear.

I write letters to editors begging for more racing coverage, but it falls on deaf ears.  

We haven't abandoned Big Brown, the short-attention span press has.

15 Jul 2008 11:07 PM

Steve, very interesting article. It's not something I'd thought about before, but now that I've read your article, it definitely makes sense. There was talk of his first work, the really slow one, a little bit but after that not really anything, not even a short mention. Nevin and Dutrow didn't seem to want to comment much after the first (or maybe it was the second one), and that very well could have to do with IEAH. However, I hope all is well with Big Brown, and I'm rooting for him to come back and finish out the year impressively.

Also, thanks for your reply to my comments on your Curlin post. If you do find anything out about Charming and would rather email it to me, my email is alexpuderbaugh@yahoo.com.

15 Jul 2008 11:23 PM

What's amazing is everyone fails to see that as soon as a deal was made for breeding rights and he was taken off steroids he ran LAST in the Belmont. Let's face it...even if he hated the track and everything went wrong he would have finished better than last. If steroids didn't improve him at all than why was he on them in the first place. The Haskell doesn't mean much because the competition will be weak, but if he wins the Classic then he is great....until then there are big question marks and an asterisk next to his derby win and preakness wins.

15 Jul 2008 11:33 PM
Ken from RI

Personally, when Big Brown lost the Belmont and the triple crown went down the drain yet again, the extreme disappointment was coupled with the fact that BB would probably only run 2 or 3 times more in his career at most and that really prevented me from reconnecting with the horse to the extent I was before.

15 Jul 2008 11:52 PM

Steve, we've talked. And I believe it when I said to Kent D. "I'll see you at the Haskell" and he said, "You sure will, we'll be there!" He couldn't say eniugh about BB! I do think Dutrow is keeping "mum" because of all the backlash he gets. The public (in general) thinks the man can do nothing right. He is now proving he's all business, the horses, all of them, are coming first. But I've watched his & IEAH horses winning over & over these past few weeks. I will be at the Haskell supporting BB and praying for a good & safe race. You can't discount BB because of one race, he's proven himself over & over. If you don't want to bet him, don't, better odds for the rest of us. I also saw Casino Drive is preparing for his trip to the US. Anyone know when he will race?

Norma Jean

New Jersey

15 Jul 2008 11:56 PM

Pyro will make everybody forget who Big Brown is after he clocks him at Monmouth.

16 Jul 2008 12:12 AM

The Best of Big Brown is yet to come.  Mark my words.  Rick Dutrow is a very good trainer and his horses have been talking for him ...yeah(IEAH) while his detractors are screaming nay(neigh).  Pardon the pun but who's horsing around?

16 Jul 2008 12:12 AM

Please people (Cass,Paula) can we stop mentioning Curlin and Big Brown in the same sentences as some of the Great horses in history,Man O War,Cigar etc need I go on,granted they are both good racehorses but with regards to Curlin passing Cigar's all time earnings you cannot compare the two 1 the purses,really Cigar would be closer too 20million than 10million,2 how many G1 winners has Curlin defeated not to mention a little streak of wins he put together little more than 5 in a row,has Curlin actually beaten 5 G1 winners,good horses not great...pick up "the grey ghost" and read about a great horse.

16 Jul 2008 1:09 AM

Until we get rid of steroids and breeding such fragile speed balls,with legs like glass nothing to do with race surfaces,and get back to durable,healthy horses maybe we will see a Classic winner race more than 6 times and call them great......unless that horse wins the Derby,Preakness,Belmont,Travers,BC Classic and Dubai then we can invent a new word for that type of animal.

16 Jul 2008 1:16 AM
Equus Femina

I haven't abandoned him, and frankly I've been scanning the net and the Form daily looking for any shred of info on Brownie.  It disappoints me that the media seems to be shunning the horse simply because Dutrow is being a bit of a "closeted" jerk.  We know now what was a likely cause, note not the ONLY cause, of his disappointing performance on June 7th.  Like others have said, even the greatest horses in history have not been infallible.  I've not given up on Big Brown for a moment and I'll be groaning on August 3rd when the rest of the world comes to their senses and remembers what a great horse he still is, and always was.  A loose shoe, a bad trip and a hot day might have slowed him down once ... but he'll be back with a vengeance.  Of that I'm certain.  I never see fans abandoning Curlin after any of his losses.  Yeah.  I just don't get it.  Brownie will show 'em again when he leaves the Haskell field eating his dust.  

16 Jul 2008 3:04 AM

Big Brown hasn't gone anywhere...it's the humans that left because BB went south ONE day & 99% jumped off the wagon...when he does good in the Haskell they will jump right back on like they never left...this is what 99% of the humanoids do...Long Live The Dirt...Oh yea & the KING too if he keeps winning!!!

16 Jul 2008 5:11 AM
dave york

Big Brown has completed four of the most impressive races in history.  Alot of great horses have one unexplainable race.  Can you remember Spectacular Bid and many others.  If BB goes undefeated the rest of the year, that crazy Belmont will be a topic of discussion forever.  Dutrow is great for the sport.  

We need more personalities.

16 Jul 2008 5:46 AM
Mike from Ossineke, MI

It is obvious now why BB lost the Belmont-how could any horse win a race when his shoe is hanging off his foot!  What a shame.  Kent D was right all-along, there was something not right.  

16 Jul 2008 5:51 AM
Pyro Hater

Am I the only one who realizes Pyro only beats weak fields in slow times at 1 1/16th miles, he's no good, get over him!

16 Jul 2008 5:56 AM

I search bloodhorse.com every day for news of Big Brown.  Not all fans are fickle!

I also read about both works because I Googled Big Brown also.

Hope he comes back even stronger in the Haskell.


16 Jul 2008 8:05 AM

I still believe that Big-Brown is the best 3 year old in 2008.He is going to win every race he runs in before he retires, then the world would see how great he is and give him the respect he deserves.

16 Jul 2008 8:23 AM

Good article, and it does seem like the media had a major Big Brown hangover after the Belmont. He's fallen off the media's radar for now, but he'll be back in the spotlight after he wins the Haskell for fun. Big Brown is still head and shoulders above the rest of the 3-year-old crop.

16 Jul 2008 8:27 AM

I love watching the girls, who are actually running better times than the boys this year.

That aside, I loved BB, but with all the media crowning him as "awesome, super, phenomenon" I couldn't see it...average times in his visually impressive wins & in his first "dirt-in-your-face challenge he falters (though I don't hold him at fault for not getting his best shot in the beginning of the race, he did get to the outside, third, early in a very long race)..the other horse, you know, the one that won the Belmont, ran in the same heat, the same track, the same distance..of course, I did have the exacta that race (heehee)

I agree, though, with DofC out, we can only hope for improvement and moving up of at least a couple of others to have a shot of a horse race.

16 Jul 2008 8:39 AM

Ooops, I forgot to add, I hope hope hope all goes well for Casino Drive's return for the BC

16 Jul 2008 8:43 AM

As always, i enjoy your commentary on all things TB.  I know there are BB fans already calling him "Great"...I, too love BB and what he "COULD" do for the Industry.  BUT, I really have no love for his trainer....the man created this atmosphere after being such a "blow hard" about his horse winning the BELMONT...that race is NEVER a "foregone conclusion" in the immortal words of Dutrow.   The man needs to learn a little class and I'm afraid for a lot of fans, it's carried over to BIG BROWN.   That, taken together with the fact that we all KNOW he's not racing past this year...it's ind of like, well, why bother getting excited....'we won't see him as a 4 yr old!"

Contrast THAT with the reception CURLIN received IN DEFEAT and you can see that to the average race fan....having their "heroes" come back to compete as and older horse IS important to us!   Couple that with the CURLIN connections ability to "re-assess" their ambitions after losing what wa supposed to be a "prep" race for the ARC, and then present a bit more "like-able" face to the world.

I mean when's the last time you saw a NY crowd applaud a horse who LOST?  i have no love for Asmussen as he is just as mired in the whole "medication" scene as Dutrow is, but at least the owner makes up for some of that by taking on ALL COMERS and trying to pursue something more than Stud fees!

SO let's "bring it on" and see BIG BROWN'S folks step up to the plate!   Let them map out a course for HIM to meet with CURLIN......then, if BB can beat "his elders" and show his true heart.....THEN I'll call him GREAT....until then that description is reserved for horses like SECRETARIAT, FOREGO, DR. FAGER, DAMASCUS...etc, etc.

16 Jul 2008 8:49 AM

steveuk30ca you couldn't be more right.  I am sick knowing that Curlin will pass Cigar's all time money mark.  He does not deserve too.  He is an amazing horse, but the purses he has had to work with have been so much larger.  They need to estimate how much each past runner has made using 2008 dollars now if they want to compare something like that.  I have seen it before on another website done that way.  Good luck to BB.  I am really not a fan of his, but just because he lost the Belmont doesnt mean he should be completely forgotten about.  His Kentucky Derby was amazing.  I gave him no chance at winning from the 20 spot.  Good luck to Pyro also.  

16 Jul 2008 9:08 AM
Kelly E.

Well said Steve!  But, it is true that horse racing is the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" game.  Why are you so surprised?  You've been around long enough to see this happen over and over again.  This is especially true of the horses that win the Derby/Preakness then fail in the Belmont.  People feel cheated...let down...disillusioned.  I don't agree with this - though it was a bitter pill to swallow after (my fav) Silver Charm's defeat in the '97 Belmont!  It didn't stop me from rooting for him -- even now, 11 years later.

So, don't discount the loyal Brownie fans.  I think he will do well the rest of the year no matter what they decide to do with him.

As for Dutrow -- I feel sorry for the guy -- but c'mon, grow some b*lls and tell Ivarone to chill.  I know I would certainly feel like boycotting all IEAH horses if he takes BB away from Dutrow.

16 Jul 2008 9:10 AM

My question is this: Why the Haskell instead of the Travers?  I don't buy the explanation by Iaverone that the legendary heat and humidity in Saratoga relative to Monmouth was a deciding factor.  I'm sure he's aware that the Jersey shore can get pretty sticky in August.  

16 Jul 2008 9:11 AM

Yeah, the media will be sorry they are covering Fed Ex and DHL instead of the Haskell.

Rachael,  Thanks for mentioning the fillies - The older horse thread caused me to remember some of the great fillies and mares races from the '80s - The top colts were going to the breeder's shed - But, most of the best racing was in the older F&M races - Imagine an eight horse field in a Grade I with eight different winners of Grade I races.  Royal Heroine, Sweet Diane, High Haven, L'Attrante and like in the same race.  And, speaking of older ladies, who can forget the six year old Estrapade defeating the guys in the Arlington Million, or Royal Heroine, the Female THOY getting nipped by John Henry in the Million before coming back to win the BC Turf.  Those days were special.

16 Jul 2008 9:15 AM

I have not deserted him. I have always thought him a GREAT horse.  I think his connections should find him a new trainer. One who does not pout and shut the public out just because he didn't get his way in one race.  Big Brown should be being built up by his connections, not hidden, and he should have a trainer that believes in him, and fights for the horses reputation with pride.  The horse knows the difference when attitudes change.  He will hopefully show his greatness again.  

16 Jul 2008 9:22 AM

I haven't forgotten Big Brown.  I hope he is back to his old self on August 3.

16 Jul 2008 9:22 AM

people just now realize that race horse trainers have been using the Barry Bond technique to prepare their charges for the big day and are maybe just not that interested in super athletes or super race horses any more.If you watched the senate hearing you would become down hearted. Also even Curlin's trainer is under a cloud now.

16 Jul 2008 9:33 AM

Thanks for this article, Steve.  I am one fan of Big Brown who has never wavered in my support of or love for him.  I have, however, been mystified by the lack of news about him.  The way I see it, he's a champion, the best 3 year old in America.  So why wouldn't news people write about him?  I've been very unhappy about having to search for information.  And, oh, to the people who think he has run in just "average" times, perhaps you should read about speed figures. . . liked Beyer or Ragozin.

16 Jul 2008 9:35 AM

I realize that I am dating myself but I remember watching Damascus run and his remarkable turn of foot. Big Brown looks to have inherited Damascus 'explosive moves--he will be back. I wonder since the Belmont if IAH isn't reconsidering retiring him. They might want to rebuild his image and I can't think of a better way than to let BB show his stuff. Great writing, Steve.

16 Jul 2008 9:35 AM

I Love Big Brown, but I think we all needed a break from his Connections, especially his Trainer. I think they also realized they should not have mouthed off so much. He's a great horse, I just wish he had different Connections-like The Jacksons!!!

16 Jul 2008 9:39 AM


I was bummed too when those fillies were retired, but I've really been enjoying Hystericallady, Ginger Punch, Tough Tiz's Sis, Dreaming of Anna, and Precious Kitten. I was really looking forward to Nashoba's Key. As for the geldings, The Tin Man was my guy.

16 Jul 2008 9:40 AM

Mr. Haskin

I hope you are right, but it wasn't long ago when a horse named Discreet Cat the only horse to ever beat HOY Invasor, was also considered by many to be oh so brilliant! and then something went terribly wrong.  No one really still knows how he went from not beating but crushing Invasor to being a shell of his former self. I've often said horses are very much like great fighters, they only have so many great fights or races in them.  I hope we've not seen the best of BB's races already, but only time will tell.

16 Jul 2008 9:44 AM
Steve G

It's dificult to speak about the horse in a vacuum...the connections come up. The race writing I admire ( as a fan, not a bettor ) weaves the equine & human stories into a more compelling picture.  What are writers to do with the likes of Dutrow?

Having said that, Big Brown ran 3 jaw-droppers in a row...The Florida Derby, KD & Preakness were sensational...and the Belmont was such a disappointment on almost every front for the horse, it was as though a door closed over his stable door with him inside directly after.

I would have been happy to continue reading about the horse, post-Belmont since so many questions arose after his day of "infamy" on the track.

You'd have to ask the scribes or their bosses why nary a word was written.

Thanks for bringing the topic back up to the surface here.

16 Jul 2008 9:59 AM

Lol... when you see what Big Brown does to the field at the Haskell...lol... suddenly Curlin will become a turf horse for the rest of the year...just watch!

16 Jul 2008 10:05 AM
Pam Graham

The horse is still the star in the only arena that counts to him - his stable.  I'm sure Dutrow, Nevin, the groom, the hotwalkers, and everybody in the barn still treat BB as the Big Horse.  

Bottom line:  He's going to be cared for and taken care of for the rest of his days.  Unless he ends up in tragedy on a racetrack, BB is in a no-lose situation.  He has no idea who's printing what about him.  So all good.  

He's one of the lucky ones.  No chance for ending up in a slaughterhouse.  No chance of being stuck in a field somewhere without care or attention.  

Watching Big Brown run, seeing his amazing turn of foot, has been a tremendous joy.  I'm happy for his beautiful self.

16 Jul 2008 10:24 AM

Note to 90 Proof: Charlie Whittingham used to say that horses are like strawberries; good one day, but maybe not the next.  Enjoy them while you can.

16 Jul 2008 11:31 AM

Let's get the facts straight about Curlin.  He is a four year-old.  at the same time in his career, Cigar had earned a whopping $270,015 in 15 starts.  Curlin has almost $10 million in 13 starts.  Do you honestly believe that Curlin if given the opportunity to run strictly on dirt 20 more times that he would not have more than $20 million in earnings?  

16 Jul 2008 11:51 AM
Matthew W

I doubt Big Brown will lose again, thus, they'll get the benefit of the doubt concerning his Belmont fiasco---I say never lose again and that includes Curlin in the Classic and yes they should both run in the Classic...at this Big Brown has not faced much at all but oh how he's done it!!

16 Jul 2008 12:02 PM
Kelly S

My personal take is that I don't care about the horse anymore, but it doesn't have anything to do with his Belmont.  I stopped liking him after the announcement that he was being retired to stud.  Now, before you BB lovers start attacking me with the same tiresome arguements, yes, I know it's not the horse's fault that he's being retired, and perhaps I should enjoy him while he's here.  However, I'm completely fed up with the early retirement of perfectly healthy stars.  I never felt an overwhelming connection to BB to begin with.  Why?  I just didn't.  I'm not going to waste my time now trying to establish one when he won't be around.  Let me also stop those of you who are thinking of responding, "Oh, would you rather he keep on racing and get injured and have to be put down?"  I can't even find the words to describe how insulting I find that.  It's rude and completely ignorant.  Just because I enjoy watching racehorses actually race does not mean that I am hoping they will break down.

It's great for people that love BB to sing his praises and defend him, but it's pointless to attack those that don't like him.  I don't expect everyone to love all of the racehorses that I love, just as I don't expect everyone to like the same people, food, or hobbies that I do.  It's an individual thing.

It was a good article, Steve.  You really know how to touch on the topics that get everyone going!

16 Jul 2008 12:14 PM


I think you hit most nails on the head regarding the lack of coverage of Big Brown.  

I think the silence from Dutrow was mandated by Iavarone - Dutrow came very close to losing his cherry gig when that positive came out on him two days after Iavarone made a big hoopla about running drug free.  I think the owner has muzzled the dog.

I'm not as impressed as you by BB's works, however - from 106 to 101 to 102 just doesn't seem to sparkle for a horse of his obvious talent!  He barely ran in the Belmont - he should be a lot sharper than that at this point, IMO.  

Even if he wins it by 12 under wraps - it will be against inferior competition - so where's the redemption of his reputation when he continues to beat up on really subpar horses?  And if he loses or even squeaks out a win?  Well - they are gambling he won't.  They can't afford to have him defeated again or he will be really devalued from a stallion marketing standpoint.  Remember - his breeding is solid but not fashionable or overly strong - his reputation on the track is the biggest selling point.

16 Jul 2008 12:15 PM

I AM his fan since I saw him for the first time in FD. I was sooo "in love" with War Pass at that time, but Big Brown become my second choice for the Kentucky. When War Pass was sidelined, I concentrated all my attention on Brownie. I never gave up on him, even after his poor performance in Belmont. I still do love this horse and I think that he is a sensational animal, much better and rare than 10 Curlins combined together (please forgive me Curlin's fans!) and I still have a faith in him! As the song says: "....even the best fall down sometimes..." - everybody deserves a credit for a weak moments in their liefs... and a second chance. I'm a big "racing" fan since I saw Barbaro, he brought my attention to the horse racing. I do enjoy it since, but one thing that makes me really mad sometimes, is that if even the best horse looses one race, the public is turning its back to that horse and the attention goes directly to some recent winner...it is sad and not fair. Does anybody remember Tampa Bay Derby this year? favorite War Pass finished last and instantly lost his title. At the same time a long shoot Big Truck - who had happened to have a good day - become a star. racing world is like a flag in the wind, it changes its direction every time the wind changes...Best regards to everyone and that was a really great article :-) Thanks Steve!

Go Brownie GO!!!!!Show to everyone how good you are!

16 Jul 2008 12:25 PM

I will never believe that shoe theory.  If that is true about the shoe the thing that puzzles me is that I did not see any favoritism of that leg or hoof while he was running.  You would have seen a change in his stride, or an attempt to get away from it had it been hurting him,  like the so called "Hot Nail". There would have been damage to the area of the hoof or evidence where the nail was continuing to be jammed in.  He lost the triple crown because he simply is not in the same category as Affirmed,  Seattle Slew, Secretariat or Citation. It takes a truly exceptional athlete,  when will everyone get it.

16 Jul 2008 12:32 PM
Julie L.

Mr. Haskins I have been wondering for years why we have had a lack of reporting in the daily newspapers sports section on horse racing. I believe it's because of the fact that good horses are retired too soon which does not allow the average sports person to become invested emotionally in a particular horse especially one that captures the attention of the true fan. Why was the Man O' War Stakes only seen on TVG? I checked both ESPN channels to see if they would be covering it and instead they thought the Pro Bowling or Golf was more important. This was Curlin's first effort on the turf and the fact that he is the reigning horse of the year and with the possibility he may go to France for the Arc this should have generated interest from newspaper sportswriters and the television media. What happened? As for Big Brown, well, the possibility of having a Triple Crown winner in 30 years is what generated all of the interest in Big Brown and once the darling of the media didn't come through well then they could careless now what this horse does although I believe they will be paying attention when the Haskell Invitational is run as they want to see if he can redeem himself in their eyes and if he does not win then they will most likely be bashing him harder than anyone on these blogs.

16 Jul 2008 12:36 PM

who cares.

The horse is going to run three more times (at most) then go on to the breeding shed to continue the downward spiral of the modern thoroughbred.

Danzig - 3 starts before retiring with injury

Boundary - 8 starts before retiring with injury

Big Brown - 9 starts maybe (with a history of foot problems) before retiring.

I was a huge Hard Spun fan last year until the moment they said he would not race at four, then I could not follow him.

As far as Big Brown being a great horse, how can anyone make that claim?  What has he done that was so special that Afleet Alex, Smarty Jones, Barbaro, Bernardini and others didn't do as three year olds? And that is just a recent list.

And I know you'll say the 20 post in the Derby and the 12 in the FL.

But..Barbaro was a graded stakes winner on turf and dirt and won from the 10 in the FL Derby.  Smarty Jones was undefeated through the Preakness, Afleet Alex won two thirds and was second in the BC Juvenile and third in the Derby.

Big Brown is a good horse and I hope he returns in top form, but aside from the TC chase, I never got what all the buzz was about anyway.

16 Jul 2008 12:37 PM

doesn't look like any of the competitive three-year olds will be in the Haskell, but instead going the JD/Travers route.  A big win in the Haskell against nobody won't mean much to mean unless he goes on to also win the Travers against the best of his generation, (which aren't all that great).

16 Jul 2008 12:38 PM

I can't get over the comments here about BB running in The Haskell at Monmouth.  We all know, the Haskell field will not be representative of the horse's that ran in the triple crown. So, even if BB does win , what point will be made  ..... BB can run ???  The only way BB and his connections can show BB is a quality horse is if he goes to the Breeders Cup, otherwise , The Haskell is just a tune up to pick up some money.

Why not the Travers , someone asked ..... maybe the competition in that race.  You can't make any statement about how good a horse is till he proves himself against his equals. The horses of yesteryear took on all comers, that's what made them great. Running against lesser quality horses, is like a Major League professional sports team playing their minor league team. It was nice to see the game, but all the while, we knew what the out come would be.

16 Jul 2008 12:39 PM

Something still doesn't add up ...

I know horses are not machines, and have off days. I've seen changes in form amounting to 5 maybe even 10 lengths from race to race. But the Belmont was a 20+ length form reversal. And it wasn't the pace: BB showed in earlier efforts that he could press and/or lead. The fact that Desormeaux did not receive days for his ride is a disgrace to the industry, IMO. BB wanted to run in the lane! Fans were bilked out of millions, and no one in authority - NTRA, NYRA, Congress, whomever - seems to be concerned in the least bit.

Some explanation on what happened is still in order (but I'm extremely doubtful that we will ever get one.)

16 Jul 2008 12:39 PM

Myself I am sick of hearing Dutrow bashing. Don't think he has done anything worse than alot of other trainers and seems he has alot of good horses in his stable. Big Brown has done a super job considering his bad feet since day one. Hopefully he will obliterate the opponents in the Haskell. I do agree with another poster (forget the name) that people only hear the triple crown talk and after that there is very little news only in Daily Racing Form.

16 Jul 2008 12:52 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, thank you for this. As the weeks have gone by, I've wondered the same. I've been watching the races for about 38 yrs. and Big Brown is the first horse since Secretariat that gave me goose bumps. So, I guess that makes him great in my books and I can not wait to see him again. It would be wonderful if he was also raced in the Travers. He is an awesome horse and it is a shame that he will not have the time or the races to prove whether his name should be listed with the greats. No reflection on him, just how the industry has changed.

16 Jul 2008 12:53 PM
Sally F

I would love to see and EXPECT to see this wonderful horse "redeem" himself in all the eyes of those who would criticize his ONE poor showing and it seems as though the reason cannot truly be found.

Run On, Big Brown!!!  We love and believe in you!!  

16 Jul 2008 1:06 PM

Big Brown is a very special, once in a lifetime horse.  AND the more I read about Mr. Dutrow (including his own explanations and comments) the more I LIKE HIM. I have owned & raced horses in the past, and speaking as an owner, he is exactly who you want caring for your horse.  

16 Jul 2008 1:18 PM
Mike S

BIG BROWN is nowhere near "GREAT." He's a very nice, a very good horse, but "great" is not something that he is now, nor will be in the future (he's only going to race another time or two). He broke his maiden and won an allowance by 12 lengths, so what? I don't care about maidens or allowance races. He won the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness in good fashion, which is very good. Lots of horses won three stakes races in a row. He bombed, royally, in the Belmont Stakes. He had every chance to run down DA' TARA going down Belmont's long backstretch but he couldn't do it. Just could not do it. By the time BIG BROWN was eased he had been passed by almost all the horses in the race! He was floundering. He was badly defeated. So, he won 3 stakes, ran dead last in another stakes, and people are calling him "GREAT"?  "Great" in what way?

If you want to reference a truly GREAT horse look no further than SPECTACULAR BID. There has not been a horse as great (as he was) since he retired. There have been other great horses (JOHN HENRY, CIGAR, HOLY BULL, SUNDAY SILENCE, etc.) but nothing that equals or surpasses SPECTACULAR BID. And BIG BROWN is nowhere The Bid's league.

16 Jul 2008 1:33 PM

I was at the Belmont and was lukewarm to BB, until the gooseflesh moment when BB came onto the track to a great roar.  From that height to the strange conclusion, he remains a very good horse.  But why should I and "the public" get excited now when the Haskell is on TVG only and not even available in my area.  Once "ESPN horses" were largely unknown to the general sports fan/public-now TVG.  SportsSouth carried TVG last summer, but cut coverage of the Haskell as the field entered the gate.  Face it:  Only the chase for the triple crown gives a horse a public identity.  Curlin's Saturday race merited two closing lines as SportsCenter ended, and drew a mere 8000plus fans to cavernous Belmont Park.

16 Jul 2008 2:01 PM
Nicky Trees

BIG BROWN will come back Bigger&Better. After all,even the great Curlin lost races.

16 Jul 2008 2:16 PM

I can't get over the comments here about BB running in The Haskell at Monmouth.  We all know, the Haskell field will not be representative of the horse's that ran in the triple crown. So, even if BB does win , what point will be made  ..... BB can run ???  The only way BB and his connections can show BB is a quality horse is if he goes to the Breeders Cup, otherwise , The Haskell is just a tune up to pick up some money.

Why not the Travers , someone asked ..... maybe the competition in that race.  You can't make any statement about how good a horse is till he proves himself against his equals. The horses of yesteryear took on all comers, that's what made them great. Running against lesser quality horses, is like a Major League professional sports team playing their minor league team. It was nice to see the game, but all the while, we knew what the out come would be.

16 Jul 2008 2:30 PM

Big Brown has a cloud hanging over him that will never blow away. Dutrow took him off steroids, he flopped in the Belmont, and it was announced he would receive his steroid doses for the remainder of his career. Public perception of such actions is reason enough for the media to not subject the masses to all things Big Brown, and that's fine with me. The sooner he is off to stud, the sooner we can begin a new search for a more worthy hero.

16 Jul 2008 2:48 PM
Gerrie P.

Big Brown remains a star to me.  Personally, I believe the luster has dimmed because he  is not going to race as a four year old.

Its disappointing.

16 Jul 2008 2:51 PM

Big who?  He has 2 races left.  Not much can be accomplished with that so that's why he's been forgotten.

16 Jul 2008 2:52 PM


Thanks for your insight on BB. I have been an advocate for this horse from day one and Just like the BC blog regarding Curlin, BB is still a rockstar to me. I could never dismiss his accomplishments just because he lost the Belmont. I can't help but feel the hush hush is intentional. I have never experienced it but I can't imagine the media frenzy and what Dutrow and the entire BB camp went through during the TC run. At first it is probably glamorous but I would imagine after the attacks by the media and the mud slinging that went on, it really makes a person think. You have to watch your step and your mouth every second. That doesn't sound like fun to me. I think they want to train BB and return to the life they had before all the madness and frankly I don't blame them. Your mention of his breeze was the first I had heard of him in a while. I had hoped your were lucky enough to get a glimpse of him in person to fill us in on his condition, but not this time (sigh). I can't wait to see BB back on the track. I found him and his running style exhilerating. I was also shocked to see the photos of the shoe. Although one would never know 100%, I just can't help but think this, along with everything else, was a contributing factor to his poorly run Belmont. I rode my horse last night and he was off on a front foot and I found a tiny little rock sticking in his hoof and once removed, it made all the difference in the world.

16 Jul 2008 3:02 PM

I agree with you Steve G. Even the blog stable at the Bloodhorse shut down all discussion on BB and his loss. Perhaps it was because of all the bickering and arguing. Regardless, I think people weren't finished speaking when it came to BB. Both the ones that disliked him and his die hard fans.

16 Jul 2008 3:11 PM
Chi / Tampa

I haven't forgotten Big Brown! But gotta admit that it's been rather pleasant without Dutrow's blabbing! BB needs quiet time and no jinxes! Bring on the Haskell!

16 Jul 2008 3:12 PM

Thank you for your comments on Big Brown.  As much as I hoped he would win, he is not a Secretariat...then there is the steroid issue.  He has since been given his shot...so if he returns to winning form, is it because of the steroid or not?  I would like to see him challenged by some outstanding horses before I declare him a true champion.  I hope for a return to racing to prove all the opposition wrong but there I feel because of the drugs and Dutrow, Big Brown will never be free of all the controversy.

16 Jul 2008 3:30 PM
John Pricci

Hey Steve,

You might not have seen this but I was on the case. As you can see, however, I'm not sure where he's at right now. But in his stall, he acted like his old self to me. See you at Monmouth. Here's the link:


16 Jul 2008 3:46 PM
Janesville Liz

I still believe he is not going to race again. Only two works, and not very sparkling ones at that. Only a matter of time before it is announced he is not right and will be scratched from the Haskell. Mark my words.

16 Jul 2008 4:04 PM

If Big Brown does run the Haskell I am sure he will win very easily.

Monmouth Park has had a way in the past 10 years to get a big name horse to run in the Haskell either by offering a bonus to have the horse run or making the handicap weight favor that horse they are trying to lure.

I think Big Brown is an extremely talented horse

But I think it takes away something when you have  horse with so much talent racing against horses that are not as talented as in say a horse that never won a grade 3 stakes or or grade one and carries only 3 or 4 lbs more.

I have been going to the Haskell for many years now in honor of my father who has past away. This was his favorite race. I remember his stories of many of the great horses Holy Bull, Bet Twice beating Alysheba.

The days of the 10 lbs weights difference is gone.

Personally I enjoyed watching a horse more like Curlin who has had to carry the weight and still showed heart and still one as in his last dirt race. And would love to see Curlin vs Big Brown this fall at the Breeders Cup.

16 Jul 2008 4:46 PM
Billy D.

I think there are a number of factors why "Splotchys" fans abandoned him. One is Richard Dutrow's ignorant comments regarding the rest of the horses he's run against, two, Desormeaux's horrible Belmont ride. Three, the fact that "Splotchy" didn't preform up to his previous performances when it was discovered he didn't get his monthly dose of Winstrol. Finally people don't like losing money on heavy favorites. 'Splotchy' didn't win any fans by running out of the money either. From what I've read on here after the Belmont, the people at the Belmont were leaving cursing "Splotchy" and his trainer. Perhaps people felt like they were fooled and that "Splotchy" is a fraud. Even if "Splotchy's" not a fraud, the 'perception' of his last performance lingers with people. The only remedy for the lost interest in 'Splotchy' in my opinion is for him to come back 'clean' and win and keep winning. I'm not too concerned about the Haskell, however I think the real test for 'Splotchy' will be the Travers. Perhaps Casino Drive will make an appearance at the 'Spa.'

16 Jul 2008 4:56 PM
Melissa G

I think we may have seen the best of Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and he's just not the same horse anymore.  That would explain why we don't hear anything about him from Iavarone and Dutrow.  I think part of it is that I'm trying to emotionally unattach myself from this horse since he's on his way to the breeding shed already.  Any comparison between Big Brown and Secretariat is a disgrace to Secretariat. Secretariat's records still stand.  The only record Big Brown holds is  the biggest Belmont flop.  Thank God for Curlin.

16 Jul 2008 4:56 PM
I Miss Rags to Riches

I have never been a huge Big Brown fan-I respect him as a dual classic winner, But I refuse to be a fan of a horse that is just killing time until it's time to breed.......Which is why It's hard to be a fan of ANY horse anymore

16 Jul 2008 5:05 PM

Andy,I have nothing against Curlin at all or the amount of start he or Cigar will and have made,I'm saying to much is made about the earnings lets give Cigar 6.2 mill for his classic and Dubai win alone,we cant make the earning define what is classed as a great horse....

16 Jul 2008 5:17 PM

Steve thanks for this write up on the bizarre loss of coverage on Big Brown.  I hope Iavarone and IEAH read through it.  

Mr. Iavarone,

Please forget the Haskell and get that horse to the Travers where there will be some competition.  You've got a good trainer, a great horse.  You might want to think about a different jockey.

16 Jul 2008 5:29 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you all for all your comments. It's great to read such lively debate and diversity of opinion.

John, that was a terrific column, especially about one of my favorite bands, Southside Johnny. I loved your first encounter Big Brown. I've felt the same way being around him, and whatever he goes on to accomplish, he still will be unlike any other horse I've ever been around. And its' hard to explain why; he was just different. There was a time until the quarter crack and the Belmont fiasco that I believed he was close to perfection. Invasor was another who stood out from other horses, as did Afleet Alex and Smarty Jones in their way. But Big Brown just did things other horses didn't.

16 Jul 2008 5:30 PM
The King of the Derby

Big Enigma: I was a great fan of and supporter of Big Brown though out his Campaign, starting in Florida. I believed that he was unbeatable in the Belmont and I am still befuddled regarding the outcome, the race itself and plausible explanations for his defeat. I expect that he will win the Haskell easy, this will be no surprise to me. I am hopefull he will make an effort to go to the Travers and if he does I expect him to win that as well. Now comes the Classic. As a wagering enthusiast I dont follow Poly or cushion tracks and although the outcome of the Classic will defind Curlin or Big Brown in part. I do not believe that Santa Anita will offer a equitable test for all they have both accomplished.

16 Jul 2008 5:56 PM
Ruffian Windy City

I agree Steve, BB has something about him that other horses just don't have...he is a special, and for me he is a great champion, even if I won't see him on the track again.

16 Jul 2008 5:57 PM



16 Jul 2008 6:08 PM
Steve Haskin

Anne, you're right. Da' Tara also has been forgotten. But he still has to prove the Belmont wasn't a fluke, because he didn't have anywhere near the accomplishments Big Brown had. On the other hand, Big Brown has to prove the Belmont WAS a fluke.

16 Jul 2008 6:34 PM

I just had this discussion with my husband last weekend.  I personally don't understand it. I can't knock the horse because he did badly in one race.  I still think he is one of the most talented classic distance 3 yr old colts running right now.  I'm not surprised he's been ignored now though.  I think alot of things with this horse rubbed people the wrong way.  But everybody needs to remember, what did the horse himself do that was so annoying?  

16 Jul 2008 6:36 PM
Julie L.

Good for you Anne, it seems that in all of this speculation on what happened to Big Brown everyone forgot about the winner of the Belmont Stakes, his name is Da'Tara. He won it nicely and Denis of Cork showed his ability in finishing second, too bad he is out for the rest of the year but look forward to seeing him race at four, I hope, providing he comes back fine from his injury.

16 Jul 2008 6:51 PM

Tis not the BB's fault he is owned by IEAH and that he has a trainer who is not a fan favorite.  The horse from the races I have seen him run is GOOD and that alone is why I like him, not for all the baggage he has to carry. Here's hoping he will rebound and show the fans that one loss does not make or break him because they all lose at one time or another, even the great ones.  Go BB and make us all proud you have come back in fine shape to give us a few more thrills before you go to stud.

16 Jul 2008 7:02 PM


16 Jul 2008 7:57 PM

Billy D...Easy on "splotchy". He didn't pick his owners or his trainer nor is he a drug addict. He is a talented 3 year old that kicked a## up until the Belmont and he did it in grand style. You can blame his Belmont disaster on any number of things or you can say he just had a bad day. That happens to all athletes. Human and horses alike. Da'Tara won the Belmont. Yes, he ran a great race but his accomplishments don't compare to BB. I hope BB comes back and does well. I for one have watched a lot of racing in my life time and can honestly say I have never seen anything like I saw when BB ran the Preakness. His turn off foot was explosive. I was in absolute disbelief and had to watch it over and over again. It reminded me of Secretariat's Belmont which I still get chills watching. Not because they had the same racing style and not because I am comparing them, but what I am comparing is the excitement of witnessing something extraordinary.  

16 Jul 2008 7:59 PM

I'm am very eager for Big Brown's return!  I love this horse!  There is something very special about him.  I know that the real Big Brown will show up Aug 3rd.  One loss doesn't take away from all that he did before.  True horse fans await his arrival.  And I think a show down between Big Brown and Curlin would be awesome!!  GO BIG BROWN!!!

16 Jul 2008 8:35 PM




16 Jul 2008 9:08 PM
Mike S

I already posted my thoughts about BIG BROWN - that he's nowhere near "GREAT" - but I want to also give DA' TARA his due. He ran them right off their feet in the Belmont Stakes. I hope DA' TARA wins the Jim Dandy and the Travers! Then again, if COLONEL JOHN shows up for the Travers I'll be hoping for a Tiznow dead-heat.

16 Jul 2008 9:09 PM
ean ennis

thought this was normal for triple crown horses to go into a sort of hibernation till midsummer,then tactically plan for fall campaign.dont think the turbo hype could continue,there are other horses around too,racing is bigger than " Mr Big Brown"

16 Jul 2008 9:32 PM

Big Brown is a good horse unfortunately the short commings of his trainer and owners are held against him unlike Curlin. He is going to have to step up & run older horses to get any respect. I doubt very much you will see the Big Brown vs Curlin race you were hoping for. He will beat up on a weak 3 yr old field in the Haskell & maybe run the in the Breeders Cup & then be retired before he has even reached his full potential. Curlin has respect because his owner had the pride to run him as a 4 yr old and didn't retire him after 8 races or shy from competition ( so the fans know who he is, that's why they cheer for him even in defeat). If Brown were to retire after his 4 yr old season (since everyone else retires at 3) he would go to stud worth more money & with more respect then racing 2 more races then retiring. He would enjoy the same respect Curlin gets now as a 4 yr old.

16 Jul 2008 9:57 PM

VP... interesting... so horses that race after 3 earn more respect? How would you compare Spectacular Bid to Secretariat ?  You know I find it interesting that this crop of 3 year olds is being attacked as a weak group yet the second half of the year has just started.  And everyone on the planet knows Big Brown is going to the Breeder's Cup yet the connections for Curlin STILL have no idea where they are taking Curlin.  Wouldn't he be heading to the Breeder's Cup too? What is there to think about?  Trust me when I tell you the connections for Curlin will make no decisions until they see Big Brown run at the Haskell.

16 Jul 2008 11:33 PM
Oglala Sue

After weeks of listening to IEAH and Dutrow crow about how their horse was the best there was and an ironclad lock to win the Belmont -- all while their horse was running against what I think was an extremely weak 3-year-old crop -- the horse's unmitigated disaster in the Belmont seemed like justice.

It gave people like me, who was always irritated by what seemed like overeffusive praise of a horse that was essentially the equivilant of grade three horses, a chance to not hear about how awesome their horse is.

It's not that I wish Big Brown ill. He's not the second coming, but he's a really nice horse...I'm just really glad the horse gets to do the talking from now on.

16 Jul 2008 11:33 PM

Ofelia, are you serious about putting Big Brown into Edgar Prado's hands?  First off, Big Brown *trusts* Kent Desourmeaux, which is extremely important!  Secondly, Edgar Prado, in the Preakness, in an attempt to beat Big Brown, rode Riley Tucker so poorly that the horse came in DEAD last.  I am a fan of Edgar, but I do not think his riding style suits Big Brown at all.  

IEAH has already stated that they will not be removing Desourmeaux from Big Brown and I think that is probably the best decision they could make.  Big Brown was running the Belmont on a hot nail and it was causing him pain.  He got kicked by Da'Tara shortly after the start, which does happen in races, and when Kent asked Big Brown to go, Big Brown just had nothing in him, the shoe was giving him too much pain.  It was not the jockey's fault, nor the horse's fault.  

16 Jul 2008 11:45 PM

I was concerned when so little had been said about BB's works... I was afraid that the publicity fade was to mask that his next race would be the Dash to the Breeding Shed.

I makes sense that the silence is a reaction to all of the negative publicity of the sport.  As badly as Dutrow and IEAH have been treated by the general media, I don't blame them at all for just keeping mum and carrying on with their plans.  In the wake of Eight Bells breakdown, PETA and the general media has been on a self-serving witch hunt when it comes to horse racing.  For example, how do you put a negative spin on IEAH setting up a state-of-the art veterinary facility where staff can make real progress on healing injured horses?  How does that sort of reporting serve to improve the quality of treatment of horses?

It stinks for us race fans who enjoy the sport and the personalities that go with it... but it doesn't seem like PETA or the general media or the government care much about what the real impact of their actions are.  They're all too busy enjoying the giddy high of standing in the public spotlight and leading the charge against a sport they know little about and feigning concern for creatures they could care less about.  When the public's interest wanes, let's see how many politicians and PETA people rapidly lose interest in our sport.

16 Jul 2008 11:59 PM
The Deacon

Maybe I am missing something, but wasn't Dutrow told by IEAH that he was on a short leash. Maybe that leash extends to speaking with the media. I am sure Dutrow loves his job and would hate to lose it. Just an observation..............

17 Jul 2008 12:54 AM

Steve: Off topic but in a recent blog you talked about the races at Ascot so I went to youtube and watched Yeats win his third Gold Cup.  I think stayers are the best kind of racehorse on the flat and the jumpers such as Denman.  These two are very impressive looking animals with tremendous charisma.  Over halfway through the year my top five racehorses are 1. Yeats 2. Denman 3. Curlin 4. Henrythenavigator 5. Big Brown    

What is your top five or ten?

17 Jul 2008 1:26 AM
Diane D

I thank BB for bringing back excitement to the sport...his FD, Derby and Preakness wins were sterling. I liked him even before the Florida Derby based on his lineage which includes some of the most powerful thoroughbreds we have had the privilege to watch- Round Table, Sword Dancer, Damascus- all of whom could win at any distance , including 1.5 and 2.0 miles. I only hope his being pulled up in the Belmont will not have a bad effect on his aggressive desire to win. Go Big Brown !

17 Jul 2008 3:02 AM

cgriff? I'd like to ask you how you know that all the other horses in the Haskell, will be inferior to Big Brown? I haven't seen any confirmation on who's running, have you??

17 Jul 2008 3:26 AM

I never was a Big Brown fan and thought the build-up to the Belmont was the typical over-hype/overreaction by the larger media that is relatively naive when it comes to sports, let alone horse racing. To me, Big Brown had not done enough to be called great. 3 grade 1 wins, no matter how impressive, do not make a horse great. Even had Big Brown won the Belmont, I would have reserved the title of "great" until later. This is the worst crop of 3 year olds since 1993, and Big Brown's speed figures were rather ordinary. And his connections were not exactly appealing. In fact, many of those who embraced Big Brown did so in spite of his connections. I think there were alot of people, the so-called fans, who felt truly betrayed by the Big Brown team after the Belmont. As when any triple crown hopeful fails in the Belmont, there was naturally alot of disappointment. Unlike most other failures, however, fans could not take away any pride about Big Brown's effort; it was a total debacle. This after most prefaced the Belmont by commenting that Big Brown was unlike most of the "flash in the pan" recent triple crown hopefuls and that he possessed truly historic talent.  Instead, the Belmont made Big Brown look like the biggest imposter of them all. To make matters worse, fans could not attribute the disaster to one simple reason. Rather, fans were subjected to endless speculation and alot of finger pointing between Dutrow, Mo, and IEAH followed shortly by another suspension for Dutrow. The humans around Big Brown were never very endearing, and their behavior after the Belmont did not exactly help matters. For those fans that had attempted to separate Big Brown from other recent Derby-Preakness winners and who had been forced to defend his questionable connections, the sentiment after the Belmont was more betrayal than disappointment; Big Brown, and more signifcantly, his connections, did "wrong" by the fans and will have to work to rebuild the relationship. Having been let down once again, having defended the horse and, what was even harder, having to defend his connection, fans will need time before going "public" again with their love for Big Brown and the humans with him.

Ironically, I am now more a fan of Big Brown than ever. The main reason I did not "fall" for Big Brown is that many were hyping him up to be the second coming, and I take labels such as "great" and "the next Secretariat" very seriously and did not believe Big Brown was worthy of them. Now, as you write in your article, the hyperbole has been all but silenced, allowing me to accept and enjoy Big Brown for what he is--Big Brown. The more I watch his races the more I see that there is something there. He may never develop into an all-time great, but he can be a very, very good one and, at the least, 3 year old champion. Big Brown has excellent tactical speed, brilliant acceleration, and is equally proficient on turf and dirt. Additionally, I am now convinced that what I had thought impossible is now likely to occur; Big Brown is going to make a start after the Belmont. I was certain that before the Belmont that Big Brown would be whisked away to the breeding shed had he won the race. The belief that Big Brown was not going to start more than 6 times, that he would be gone before he could truly dtermine greatness, was a key reason why I could not become attached to him. Having lost the Belmont, IEAH and Dutrow are now keen to resore Big Brown's honor. If Big Brown wins the Haskell, I believe that you will see his legions swell again and, ultimately, this is good for the sport.

17 Jul 2008 4:42 AM

The Haskell is taylor made for Big Brown.The speed favoring surface plus the secound tier competition should set up well for BB. The real comptition will be gathering at Saratoga for the Travers.BB's connection already know what happens when things don't set up perfect for him.

17 Jul 2008 6:35 AM
Sharp focus

I was and still am a fan of BB-- however when I know he only has maybe 3  more races and then he will be retired-- why invest too much is following him?   To me he will never be able to prove he is a GREAT horse with only the few wins of the few races.  In the 70 and 80-s horses ran more than 5 times prior to the Derby and they still managed to win Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Secretariat all did and they managed to win the Triple crown.  They also did this by facing many of the same competitors.  No one sitting out the Preakness to wait for the Belmont.  

17 Jul 2008 8:23 AM

normajean81258 - you are correct in that the field for the Haskell has not been announced.  Perhaps I sounded a bit too cheeky regarding BB's competition level, but all the coverage I've read has shown the only other 3-yr-olds I deem capable of giving Big Brown a test, including Da'Tara and Colonel John, are all pointing to the Travers.  I had heard that Pyro might go for the Haskell - but he's a stone cold closer and Monmouth favors BB's game more than closing, IMO.

Perhaps someone will step up and surprise, or Harlem Rocker will come south for the challenge - but I'm just not hopeful that we'll see any horses at the same level as Big Brown on an average day - which is probably what the connections hope for - an easy win that doesn't require his "A" game.

But I take your comments legitimately - I shouldn't write of a field until I at least know the players!  :)

17 Jul 2008 10:35 AM
Steve Haskin

Gun Bow, I dont recall many people putting the tag "great" on Big Brown. As for his poor speed figures, I dont know what speed figures youre refeering to, but according to Ragozin and Thoro-Graph figures, he ran the fastest Kentucky Derby in history. And that was coming off an incredible number in the Florida Derby, one of the fastest ever recorded in any race. Those figs are much more widely regarded by horsemen and serious bettors than the Beyer numbers. Those are the figs the private purchases of horses are based on.

17 Jul 2008 10:41 AM

Gunbow: your post is interesting. You said you never jumped on BB bandwagon because his three grade 1 races were not that big of a deal but now that the hype has settled down you are more of a fan of BB than ever because you have been able to sit back and watch his races and can appreciate what you have seen. I think you were a victim of disliking BB's connections so much you were unable to see the talent the horse had because you would then be forced to agree with big mouth Dutrow. Don't feel bad, your not the only one who dismissed this horse because of his connections. But the rest of us who were ignoring his connections were witnessing a very talented 3 year old. You can say his numbers were ordinary however there are people who would beg to differ. Especially his derby run, breaking from post 20. The tactical speed, brilliant acceleration and his ability to run on turf and dirt are the very reasons most of us fell in love with BB in the first place. Steve says himself that being around him in person was being around something great. A quality that is hard to explain but is most definatley present. Its nice to read your post and understand your honesty.

Oglala Sue: Can you be serious??? BB equivilent of a grade 3 horse??? The Belmont seemed like justice??? It's time you take a good hard look at the replays of BB's races. Compare his times to those of the last few derby and preakness winners. Compare the fractions and take into consideration post positions and head winds. I think you over looked BB's talent because you were also a victim of BB's connections. If you wanted to let the horse do the talking, you should have been listening to BB instead of his connections. Its o.k to not be fan for one reason or another but to call the Belmont justice is down right mean spirited.

17 Jul 2008 10:51 AM

Sharp Focus: I agree it is hard to get attached when you know they are only racing maybe once or twice more. I would love to see BB develop into a powerful, exciting 4 year old. But maybe we should appreciate what we can get in the here and now. Unfortunately it is the way of the industry. Where is Street Sense, Hard Spun,Smarty Jones (an injury??). The list goes on and on. Afleet Alex just seemed to fade into the sunset. He was one of my favorites. If they have an injury, I understand. But sometimes I wonder if the injuries aren't the entire truth.

17 Jul 2008 10:57 AM

Thank You !!! Thank you Steve... too many seem to forget just how impressive Big Brown's Derby win really was.  Just as you will never see a Belmont performance like Big Red's again... you will never see a Derby performance like Big Brown's. No 3 year old can leave from the 20 post and go 4 wide ALL the way around the track and win by 5.  What you saw that day is nearly impossible.

17 Jul 2008 11:17 AM

The 20 post for the Derby is not the worst post for a horse with tactacle speed. Besides we all saw the results when BB was in tight quarters. By the way, the stakes record for the derby, i believe, is still held by Big Red.

17 Jul 2008 11:46 AM
Equine Paparazzi

I don't see the big deal about not going bonkers over two mediocre works. A lot of you people who are going on and on about how this horse is going all the way to win the BC Classic are going to be awfully disappointed when BB, if he even runs, misses the board behind Well Armed and any two other horses entered, and maybe even Evening Attire. Can any of you say flash-in-the-pan? And why is every just conceding the Haskell to this horse? We ALL did that at Belmont, remember?

17 Jul 2008 1:26 PM

Mike M. Then that would make BB's tactical speed brilliant. I believe only one other horse has ever won the derby from the 20 post in the history of the derby. Sometime back in the 40's I think. When was the last time you ran full speed with someone holding you back after colliding with someone else and getting your shoe ripped off and having it hang there with a nail still sticking out of it when it was 100 degrees and then get nearly stopped and asked to go 5 wide at a mile and half oh and don't forget not necessarily prepared for the race due to the fact that you had an injury on your foot that kept you out of training??? Maybe BB doesn't like tight quarters. Maybe that is his downfall. Perhaps more experience would solve that problem. Keep in mind the results of the race were caused by the jockey, not the horse. He didn't ease himself up in the stretch.

17 Jul 2008 1:30 PM

I do not know what the big mystery is with Big Brown. Look at all the great horses that came before him. This is a down year for three year olds. Everyone acknoweldge that. Big Brown was lightly conditioned for the longest race in his career because of a quartercrack injury. It was an unseasonably hot evening. It was his first race on the Belmont Track. Few horses have won the Belmont Stakes without first having a race on the Belmont Track. Finally, his jockey gave him an awful ride. Desormeaux gave an ESPN interview the day before the race where he mentioned the key to riding Big Brown was letting the horse do what he wanted. Approaching that first turn, Kent had him all over the place not allowing him to do anything he wanted to do. Then, he had a shoe come off in what is known as The Big Sandy racetrack and everyone says its such a mystery why he didn't win. I think with all that was conspiring against Big Brown it would have been a miracle if he won.

Without the heat, the lack of conditioning, the lack of competition, the jockey error, and the horseshoe coming would Big Brown have won? I do not know. BUt I think a good case could be made that he may not have because of the arduous burden that winning the Triple Corwn is on even the best horses.    

17 Jul 2008 2:07 PM

Regarding the Haskell,

Here are the invitees...

Anak Nakal, Atoned, Behindatthebar, Big Brown, Big Truck, Cherokee Artist, Chris Got Even, Colonel John, Cool Coal Man, Da' Tara, Dixie Chatter, Famous Patriot, Harlem Rocker, Hey Byrn, Icabad Crane, Macho Again, Magical Forest, Mambo Meister, Maya's Storm, Mint Lane, My Pal Charlie, Nistle's Crunch, Pyro, Ready Set, Ready's Echo, Recapturetheglory, Roman Emperor, Tale of Ekati, Tiz Now Tiz Then, Tres Borrachos, Truth Rules, Two Step Salsa and Z Fortune

D'Tara is going to the Jim Dandy and Pyro is likely headed there as well. I think Cool Coal Man and Anak Nakal may head up there as well since Zito usually does most of his racing from up there, but he may not want to crowd the field with three horses.

Roman Emperor ran at Delaware this past week and came in 5th in the Barbaro Stakes. He beat D'Tara in the same stakes at Pimlico. Cherokee Artist was in that race too. So they are possibilities.

The runners in the Long Branch last weekend will likely be in the field...

Truth Rules

Hey Byrn

Z Humor


Indy Joe...

So any or all of these could be in the Haskell.

17 Jul 2008 2:30 PM

Just an inquiring thought to all of you ....... Do you think the public media should have more news about thoroughbred horse's and racing ? ? For the most part, I think the media gives coverage to pre - derby trials ,  the two prior weeks leading up to the derby , and the period following for both The Preakness and Belmont. Do you think the thoroughbred industry should submit articles for publication , especially in those areas where the tracks are open ?  

We in the horse business are aware of the recent Congressional hearings, but what about the public ? Shouldn't the general public be aware also, especially after the Eight Belles tragedy. We discuss attendance , handle, revenue , why BB has not been in the news , maybe , just maybe , the horse industry leaves the public in the dark and we wonder why fan base is eroding. Don't you think they would like to know the goings on, what we are doing for horse safety and to present a better product for them ... our fans ???

Maybe the problems stem from the lack of our own public relations , and then we turn around and say " why have they forgotten us " , maybe because we have forgotten them !!!

I'm sure, no matter where it is you reside , you like to be kept informed about what is going on around you ...... don't you think the horse fan would like to be also know what is going on. How many racing fans do you think really know about any horse web sites they can go to for news, commentary, articles ,etc. ?

Do we just take the racing fan for granted, " oh , they'll show up at racing time and support us " , but right here , this column questions why the public has forgotten Big Brown. Well folks, guess its because we may have forgotten them, the racing fans.

17 Jul 2008 2:31 PM

I for one haven't forgotten about Big Brown.  This is a talented colt and in the right hands, could be a great horse ( I don't think he has proven "greatness" at this point), but he might have a chance if IEAH would move him to another barn(there are alot of really good trainers around) and put Edgar Prado on his back.  Edgar is the best in the business!

17 Jul 2008 2:50 PM

So Big Brown won the derby out of post 20,  I hope so, because the rest of the field couldn't beat my prize winning Alpine Goat. Secretariat dropped back to last, deliberately, in his derby and still broke the stakes and track record. How many track and stakes records has Big Brown broke or equaled?  Have they nailed that loose shoe back on his hoof yet?

17 Jul 2008 3:13 PM

I have never blogged before but this has been eating me up since the Belmont.  Big Brown did not lose the Belmont - he was not allowed to finish.  I was at both the Preakness and Belmont and will be at Monmouth.  Big Brown is an amazing, exciting althlete who should/could have been a Triple Crown winner.  I'm not saying he was Secretariat (no one ever will be) but like Danylson I saw a similarity in how I felt watching him race.  It is phenomenal to see his understanding of what he is suppose to do when he hits that final stretch.  Both BB and racing fans were robbed.  We will never know what might have happened when he saw that stretch to the finish. He certainly proved his ability to turn on that speed in all his previous races.   He was not "eased up", he was pulled up hard, fighting it the whole way.  And he was running 3rd when he was pulled up.  It was actually dangerous; he could've been injured (remember the speculation about Eight Belles jockey pulling her up too hard - well that was nothing compared to how BB was pulled up).  And if Kent D thought something was wrong, why wasn't he off that horse and checking him out - why were the first words out of his mouth "there's nothing wrong with him"?  And like UCLinden - why isn't there an investigation?  A good analogy would be an olympic athlete who worked all his life to run in the Olympics for the Gold but on the day of the race when he's half way around the track, his coach comes out and pulls him off the track because he looks a bit tired.  ???? Or maybe the Yankees playing the 7th game of the World Series down by one in the last inning and the manager says "you guys look tired - let's just go home now"  ????  Who would ever stand for such a thing?  The difference with these examples is the Yankees could play in another World Series, a runner could go to another Olympics.  But Big Brown can never run that race again.  He was cheated of his one opportunity.  I hope he blasts everyone away and wins everything he has the opportunity to win.  It won't give him back that race but he is a magnificent horse and I hope he goes out that way.  

17 Jul 2008 3:28 PM

Just so that you know I’m still the biggest fan of Big Brown, I have purchased tickets to the Haskell, plane ticket from Texas and made hotel reservations just to go see my hero (next to Barbaro) completely blow away the field.  I go to the local track here in Texas but this is the first time that I will travel to go see a horse race, and it’s because he is a special horse.  It frustrates me that I can’t find anything on the websites regarding his training or well being.  But let me sound like Dutrow here for a moment…this is a magnificent and powerful horse with acceleration like I’ve never seen.  There was so much excitement in the way he pulled away from the pack in all of his races.  What happened at the Belmont has no affect in my belief in this horse.  Big Brown will win the Haskell and I’m going to be there to witness it.  Big Brown had it, has it and will have it on August 3rd!  Get your popcorn ready!

Dallas from Texas

17 Jul 2008 5:11 PM

Hello Steve,

It is an honor to read your blog and have you respond to us knuckleheads!  Thank you for your personal tidbit about Big Red.  I am salivating waiting to read more!  I still remember that great article of yours recalling the amazingly cool Invasor.  About Brownie, my disappointment on Belmont day took me a while to get over...but at least everyone was safe.  Of all the horses to win, Da'Tara??  I had seen him on Preakness day and I was severely repremanded by an assistant trainer for taking Da'Tara's picture inside the paddock.  How strange it was for me to watch him beat my boy.  Anyway, I did get to witness BB's greatness on Preakness day,  and I wish him nothing but the best.  I assumed he was injured or something that we would find out about later; therefore the information blackout.  I hope he can regain his glory, but I know his connections will not risk racing him in the Haskell if he is not 100% sound.  A question for you Steve, why is it that even though Lava Man has not won in over a year, he is high weight in his next race over the likes of the younger Spring House?  Anyway, Go Big Brown... and Go Lava Man!

17 Jul 2008 5:37 PM

Personally I'm not going to bet on Big Brown in the Haskell. That Belmont race may have really screwed his head up. His workouts are not as sharp as his previous works and that might be an indicator. Dutrow did say that the shoe was not the problem in the race and Kent D. said the horse was tired. I have seen horses go straight downhill like this before.But he does have a chance to redeem himself, I'm just not going to bet on it.

17 Jul 2008 6:52 PM
Steve Haskin

Helen, thank you for the kind words, but we're all knuckleheads in our own way, so just look at it as one knucklhead responding to another. Lava Man is coming off a big effort in a grade I and is dropping one pound off it, which is correct. Spring House won a grade II under 116. He ran badly in Dubai under 123 in a weight for age, so that's a cross-out. Off the Obispo, he picks up one pound, which also is about right, so I dont have any problem with the weights.

17 Jul 2008 7:14 PM
Steve Haskin

TerriV, I agree with you 100% about the whole fiasco of him being eased/pulled up. It was way too dramatic, and then everything Desormeaux said after the race was the wrong thing to say. You have to think a little before opening your mouth. He just made a bad situation much worse.

17 Jul 2008 7:19 PM
Oglala Sue

Karen2...I left out two important words when I was editing my post (clearly I did a poor job).

I think there's no doubt Big Brown is a grade one horse. BUT I think he was for the most part "beating the" equivilant of grade 3, or grade 2, horses.

Big omission on my part.

If it is mean spirited that I was glad a horse didn't win the Belmont because I thought he didn't deserve to be included in the same group as Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed...fine.

17 Jul 2008 9:10 PM

hey steve have you heard anything on war pass or blackberry road? please let me know.

17 Jul 2008 9:40 PM

Karen2 His shoe was not hanging off.He was not sore,off, or lame from it.Not during the race not post race and not the day after.If he was we would have heard about it because they needed an excuse for that sorry performance.I also believe every other horse ran in the same heat.If KD didn't ease him he would have lost by thirty instead of fifty plus lengths.The truly great horses overcome adversity of all kinds.The fact is that BB failed miserably when faced with it in the Belmont.

17 Jul 2008 10:11 PM
russell maiers

your right steve, be careful not to blame the spectators after all they have been trained to follow the triple crown and thats it. We do a lousy job promoting horse racing after the belmont and rememeber no one runs at age 4 anyway so again they have been trained to forget. Most fans i know no nothing about when the 3 year olds finally race older horses, or the melborne cup and makibi diva,all the other great races overseas,and even the breeders cup. Saint Liam? who was that. No dis respect to all the people who wrote in here as they are real fans but the fact is most of the triple crown stuff fans end with it and because thats how they have been taught.

17 Jul 2008 11:11 PM

Steve, Just got finished watching your "and they're off" video. From one knucklehead to another...great video. I knew you were one smart horse racing cookie but I am learning you are quite funny as well. I really appreciate the farewell to Vindication. I had been thinking about him everyday since his passing. Thanks for keeping me in touch with the greatest athletes in the world. I don't know where you find the time to post blogs but I sure am glad you have added this to your list of job duties.

18 Jul 2008 12:00 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Karen. I better be funny. Why do you think my wife has put up with me for 28 years?

Josue, I forgot about Blackberry Road, I will inquire about him. I havent heard anything official about War Pass, but there are reports that he's been very slow coming around. I'll see Zito next week and find out more.

18 Jul 2008 2:33 AM

I say it is disappointment that has kept the fans quiet.  Disappointment with gas prices; disappointment with our government and its ecnomic policies; and disappointment that a bright spot, the Triple Crown, was not attained.  We can't seem to get out of our American slump as the economy is outsourced, wages depressed and the dollar plummets.   The air has gone out of the national balloon and Big Brown, the purest of our American blood, failing to capture the Crown, for good reason if he was physically not right, is another literal let down.


18 Jul 2008 3:17 AM

MikeM... give it a rest.  Adversity ? The 20 post and going 4 wide is not adversity?  In the Preakness having Prado rush up and try to box you in is not Adversity? You may not want to blame the shoe but I have proof that it was the shoe... his 5 prior races!

You won't have to worry about Adversity anymore... I have a feeling he will go to the lead from now on knowing they are hunting for him.

18 Jul 2008 7:09 AM

Mike, I'm not sure what you are basing your guess on with regard to where Big Brown would have placed if he'd been allowed to run.  Certainly not on his past performances or on the part of the race that he was actually allowed to run.  In fact, in his pre-race analysis, Jerry Bailey showed Big Brown's perfect race exactly as it was up until he was pulled up.  Sitting 3rd most of the way around.  And, just for the record, even truly great horses have a bad day once in awhile. Even the incredible, almost perfect Secretariat lost a few.

18 Jul 2008 8:40 AM

Misfortune comes in many different forms on the race track. To say the good horses over come adversity and win is far to broad of a statement. Some adversity's can be conquered and some can't. It is all part of the racing equation. It is my belief Afleet Alex would have been a triple crown winner had he not faced so many "adversity's" in the Derby. He still managed a third place finish after coming back to the paddock battered and bruised after a horrible trip  but came back to make Preakness history and blew his competition (including the derby winner Giacamo) away by 7 lengths. The best horse doesn't always win. BB doesn't deserve to be chastised for his performance in the Belmont. He faced a lot of adversity and other circumstances and he lost.. At the end of the day, that is horse racing folks.

18 Jul 2008 1:08 PM
Matthew W

Am disturbed by Big Brown going in the Haskell instead of The Travers, of for that matter, The Arlington Million vs elders---BECAUSE he's only gonna dance a couple more dances his races must count for more than the more accomplished racehorse--that's just the way it is if 'ya want greatness in this sport--but DO come West in October, and win the Horse Of Year---cuz I think he's the best since 'Bid.....

18 Jul 2008 3:57 PM

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