Mixed Feelings

I don’t know how I feel anymore. I hate to become too wrapped up in all this Curlin vs. Big Brown banter and then have it all become moot when they go their separate ways. If it turns out to be nothing but idle chatter, then what good did it do other than provide us with amusement or indignation, depending on how you reacted to it?

There was Rick Dutrow’s harsh challenge to Curlin’s connections, calling them out as would a professional boxer goading an opponent by taking potshots at him and his family. There was Jess Jackson’s stern, but tactful response, scolding the instigator as a teacher would a disruptive student.

Should Curlin and Big Brown face each other for Horse of the Year honors? Certainly. Now that it's not going to happen in the Woodward, should they do it in the Breeders’ Cup Classic? Well, that’s where the ambivalence comes in.

Part of me says go for it and hope they both run to the best of their ability over the synthetic surface, while the other part of me, and the more dominant one, says championships, at least at this time, should not be decided on a synthetic surface, especially one that won’t even be tested until five weeks before the Breeders’ Cup. We have no idea what they’ll be running on. I keep picturing Curlin and Big Brown getting beat by a synthetic surface specialist who couldn’t warm them up on a dirt track and going away feeling, what a waste of time that was. And then it will hit me: “Geez, we have to go through this again next year.”

Even if Curlin wins and Big Brown finishes second, or vice versa, can you honestly say it was a true test, or did the loser simply not handle the track as well he would have had the race been on dirt? I can’t help but think of Street Sense, who ran well enough on Polytrack to be competitive, but was not anywhere near as good as he was on dirt. Getting beat a nose in the Blue Grass Stakes and finishing a good third in the Breeders’ Futurity would suggest that he handled the Polytrack fine. But compare it to his subsequent performances in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and you can clearly see he was a totally different horse on dirt than he was on synthetic.

Yes, you can always say a sloppy track compromises the chances of some horses. And this is true. But they don’t set off to run in the slop. Last year’s  track at Monmouth was an act of nature on a nature-made surface and it was just unfortunate it had to come in such an important and eagerly anticipated race. Artificial surfaces are not an act of nature; they are just that – artificial, and you would hate to have it produce an artificial result with so much at stake.

I also have mixed feelings about Jess Jackson’s inclination to skip the Classic. Again, you’d love to see Curlin compete on racing’s biggest stage, but I can understand his misgivings about using Curlin as an “experiment,” not even knowing what kind of surface he’ll be running on. What if the new track turns out to be a disaster, just like the previous surface at Santa Anita, or just like the previous surface at Del Mar? Even if it’s not, why run him on an uneven playing field against seasoned synthetic track horses?

Jackson has done everything right in his attempt to show off Curlin to the world, and he must be applauded for his ambitious quest to send the champ to France for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It is that kind of pioneer spirit we need nowadays to put racing in the national and international spotlight following the Triple Crown. He could, of course, prep Curlin on a synthetic track in the Goodwood, but if he doesn’t take to it then you’ve wasted a race. Maybe that would inspire him to go for the BC Turf, but that would mean running the on dirt, turf, dirt, synthetic, and back to turf. Not only could that confuse the horse, it’s got me totally confused just thinking about it.

As for Dutrow and Big Brown, there’s nothing wrong with a few friendly jabs being thrown between two potential combatants, but with many owners inclined to think of their horses as their “children,” one can understand Jackson taking offense to the personal and derogatory nature of Dutrow’s comments.

“What you have is an attempt to show the animals at their very best,” Jackson said. “And to run down another guy’s horse, it may make for interesting reading for (the press), but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do; it demeans the industry. Yes, I’d love to meet him. It would be great for the industry and for the fans. They’re both great horses.”

Well said by a classy guy. But let’s face it, Dutrow, when he feels strongly about something, speaks from the gut, and when he says “Big Brown is way better than Curlin,” and “Shame on them for not running in the Classic,” he’s saying what he feels -- in this case based on his passion for Big Brown -- and doesn’t care about any repercussions. He’s too focused on what he’s feeling to think about that. Those feelings head straight for the mouth without making the usual stop upstairs where most people screen and then modify them. If people dislike Dutrow, so be it. His philosophy is, he can’t control how people feel about him. That is Rick Dutrow – take him or leave him. This year, many people have left him. Even his owners almost left him. But like he said when asked if this year has felt like a roller coaster ride: “My whole life has felt like a roller coaster ride.”

The guy is a great horseman, regardless of all his baggage, and while his comments provide fodder for the press, if you’re on the other end of them it’s best to just smile, shake your head, and not take him too seriously, just as racing manager Nobutaka Tada did when Dutrow threw several darts at Casino Drive. Sometimes, silence is much louder than rebuttal.

I also commend the decision by IEAH Stables and Dutrow to run in the Classic and wanting to meet Curlin, but I also can’t help but wonder if they’re going to regret it should Big Brown not perform up to his usual standards on the synthetic surface. Honestly, I just don’t know what to think anymore.

There are two possible ways out of this mess. How about if we can get IEAH Stable and Jess Jackson to agree – a handshake will do – to one of two things?

First, they agree to run in the Classic, and if both horses come out of the race in good shape (no phony maladies, please), the winning owner agrees to give the loser, if he so desires, a rematch in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs four weeks later – 1 1/8 miles on the dirt and over a track on which both horses have excelled.

If Jackson remains adamant about not running in the Classic, the other alternative would be to simply agree to meet in the Clark (over a fast track or by mutual agreement over a sloppy track – the horses’ safety must take priority) and the heck with the Classic. If Big Brown’s people want to run for the $5 million, that is their prerogative. But let them shake hands with Jackson beforehand and agree to come back in the Clark. In short, the Clark will be become the championship race, regardless of what happens in the Classic. This way, the horses’ connections are free to prep for the race anywhere they so desire. Just imagine the atmosphere at Churchill Downs having these two magnificent horses square off over what it is hoped will be a fast track.

I realize this will seem too contrived and unrealistic to many, but, heck, it’s a blog, where one can spew forth whatever comes to ones mind, right? In reality, Big Brown is scheduled to have only one or two more races, culminating with the BC Classic. In his connections’ minds, if Big Brown should win the Classic, and they fully expect him to, then what better way to end his career. And they can always claim Curlin had every chance to take the same gamble they did and chose not to. That certainly would make a good case for Big Brown being voted Horse of the Year. So, why agree to run in the Clark? Then again, what if he does lose? That puts Curlin in the driver’s seat and gives his connections the luxury of running him wherever they want, Big Brown or no Big Brown. Knowing Jackson’s sporting nature and his confidence in his horse, he could very well give Big Brown a chance to take Curlin’s crown away from him in the Clark anyway.

So, there you go. I just confused myself even further. If you’ve moved on to another blog by now I can certainly understand why.

For those remaining, instead of rambling on, let’s turn our attention to the Haskell. While up in Saratoga, the vast consensus of opinion among the media and horsemen was that Big Brown’s performance was unimpressive -- he was drifting out, he was under pressure early, he did little running until the last 70 yards, he was facing a mediocre field, and was in danger of losing to an allowance horse.

All true, but having a need to play devil’s advocate, here is the race I saw. I saw a horse who basically hadn’t run since the Preakness; you can add a few fruitless furlongs in the Belmont if you wish. I saw a horse chase a lone speed horse over a notoriously speed-favoring track through testing fractions and still found a way to run him down. And that lone speed horse had a 9 1/4-length win and 102 Beyer over the track, was trained by the destroyer of idols, Nick Zito, and had been the most highly regarded of all of owner Robert LaPenta’s 2-year-olds last year. With some horses, sometimes it takes talent a while to surface, especially when they have things their own way.

I saw a horse who earned a 107 Beyer speed figure and 110 Brisnet figure, turning certain defeat into victory, while showing a whole new dimension. Jerry Brown of Thoro-Graph agonized over this race for four days before giving Big Brown a negative 2 1/4, which was more than a full point better than he got in the Preakness. And he said he came very close to giving him a negative 4 1/4, basically the same record-breaking number he earned in the Kentucky Derby, but decided at least for now to take the conservative approach. Brown said that could change, but added, however, that negative 2 1/4 still is an excellent number. 

Big Brown actually hit another gear in the last 70 yards and was just beginning to run as he approached the wire. And it it’s not like he was all out to win in a photo. He won under a hand ride in the final strides by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:48 1/5 with a gap of 4 1/2 lengths back to the Fountain of Youth winner. Most people knock the :13 final eighth, which isn’t that bad in the first place, but Big Brown’s final eighth in :12 3/5 was certainly respectable enough, especially after chasing a :46 2/5 and 1:10 4/5 pace and a 1:35 1/5 mile and running his two previous quarters in :24 1/5 and :24 3/5.

Let’s remember that Point Given was life and death to win the Haskell over a weak field by a half-length, earning a 106 Beyer. Yet no one castigated him for his performance and for trying to duck in turning for home. Skip Away won the Haskell by one length; Holy Bull won by 1 3/4 lengths; Touch Gold won by 1 1/2 lengths. Curlin ran the worst race of his career in the Haskell, finishing a dull third; Preakness and Belmont winner Hansel finished third, beaten 13 lengths at 1-2. In short, the Haskell is almost always a tough race, and most of its winners have won by small margins, many over horses with a race over the track. Does anyone recall the tough time the overwhelming favorite Lion Heart had with local horse My Snookie’s Boy in both the Long Branch and Haskell?

As for his drifting out, he’s done it before. The legendary John Nerud, having watched all his big races, pointed out that he firmly believes Big Brown has a problem with his mouth, whether it’s a tooth, the roof of his mouth, or even his tongue. He feels he needs a special strap, similar to the leather Indian-style strap he designed for his horses that had a similar problem.

Is Big Brown the super horse he was perceived to be during the spring? Who knows? That still remains to be seen. But, for now, he’s won every race he’s finished. The way people are talking, one would think he lost the Haskell. But he won it. So, at least for now, let’s give him the credit he deserves and see how he progresses off this race. If he regresses, then his connections will have to deal with that. If he moves forward, then the rumblings of a showdown with Curlin will be heard loudly once again.

So, what does all this mean? It means that the Breeders’ Cup will be run on a synthetic surface this year and next year and we just have to accept it. Whoever ships from the Eastern dirt tracks, good for them. Whoever doesn’t, good for them. How’s that for clarification?


Leave a Comment:


I say the two boys should run against Zenyatta!  Then we will know who is the best:> but if not I like your suggestion.  And honestly, Dutrow, and IEAH has turned me against Big Brown. Not fair for the horse, I know....

07 Aug 2008 4:49 PM

My point of view on the whole Big Brown and Curlin situation is that even though Dutrow's challenging Curlin him and IEAH are afraid of Curlin and don't want to run against him because they believe Curlin is better or that Big Brown is running hurt, just imagine what PETA would have to say about that. And I believe that Santa Anita having two straight BC's is totally bogus since the track isn't even there right now so who knows what it will be like. So to me a track like Saratoga, Del Mar, Arlington, Keeneland, Hollywood, Aqueduct, Belmont or a track like Woodbine should be given this year's or next year's Breeders Cup.

07 Aug 2008 5:04 PM

Bravo Steve! An excellent piece, you echo my thoughts completely. As I said, I did see you at the Haskell and you sure looked intent. I supposing you were thinking, "I don't know how I feel?" LOL I am glad you expressed your thoughts on  Big Browns Haskell run. I thought much the same as you, without all those statistics of course. But I knew he ran a good race. So, it wasn't great, but he won, and it was GOOD. And I agree with your idea, "they agree to run in the Classic, and if both horses come out of the race in good shape the winning owner agrees to give the loser, if he so desires, a rematch in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs four weeks later.

If Jackson remains adamant about not running in the Classic, the other alternative would be to simply agree to meet in the Clark." I think that would be good for Horse racing as well!!

07 Aug 2008 5:08 PM

Marcia, I have to agree with you...

Dutrow's latest comments were rediculous, but I suppose that's what he does.

Curlin is one of my all-time favorites (since his Rebel victory) and he will remain so, regardless of what happens in his future.

07 Aug 2008 5:09 PM

Steve, I too shake my head at the Breeders' Cup for holding the championship on an untested surface for two straight years.  However, it hasn't stopped Aidan O'Brien from pointing Henrythenavigator to the Classic despite what happened to George Washingon last year.  I agree, Jess Jackson is a sportsman, more of what are game needs, but if he was sporting enough to try the turf, try the synthetic surface as well.  A Big Brown, Curlin, Henrythenavigator classic could be one for the ages.

07 Aug 2008 5:10 PM
Julie L.

The sniping going on with Curlin vs Big Brown is similar to Seabiscuit vs War Admiral but a match race is not always the deciding factor for who is the best as things can go wrong and horses may not feel at their best so I believe one must look at the performances they gave for the entire year. As for Big Brown's performance in the Haskell it's probably (again all the sniping) due to most people trying hard to declare him "great" a word that should not be bantered around so easily, "greatness" must be earned and there are many, myself included, who feel that Big Brown still has some questions to answer before "great" can be placed next to his name. It's not that we dislike the horse he is a beautiful animal and the cudos he has received he deserves but many are still waiting for the final judgement of greatness. Curlin has done much beginning with last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup so he has proven himself quite abit, "greatness" is close to his name, let's hope he continues to show that he deserves to have that word placed next to it.

07 Aug 2008 5:12 PM

I think that horses like Henrythenavigator, Curlin or Big Brown could do well in the Classic since they are all above average turf horses.

07 Aug 2008 5:22 PM
Steve Haskin

I just added a Thoro-Graph number for the Haskell and comments from T-Graph's Jerry Brown. It's pretty revealing.

07 Aug 2008 5:25 PM

Hello Steve:

As usual you make great sense regarding bb and Curlin. I certainly agree w/ you about BB's last race. People refuse to give him a break. If BB had won by 20,all the cry babies would be complaining he didn't win by 21!!

07 Aug 2008 5:29 PM

Steve, Steve, Steve.....

So many thoughts - so many responses!  I'll try to keep it concise.

First of all - why (and when) will you tire of being the apologist for Dutrow's mouth?  You have sung the song about him being a "good hearted guy who speaks from the gut" for every example of hurtful, outrageous public comment he's spewed.  You even convinced me to give him a second chance, and a third, and a twelfth....but at what point does a person say "enough!" and demand a change to what is negative, boorish, obnoxious behavior that has scarred the reputation of BB more than any other aspect of his career or connections.  

Iavarone said "they can't win" with public opinion - that is probably true.  Dutrow has put the stink on Big Brown through his incessant need to voice his random and derogatory thoughts.  That's why there was no overwhelming grief when BB lost the Triple Crown.

Big Brown will never capture the imagination of the general public the way a Secretariat did - because BB is just not that good and the connections lacked Mrs. Chenery's easy elegance and PR charm.  And he won't get the following of a Funny Cide or a Smarty Jones - because there's no feel good story when the most visible and vocal member of the horse's team is a irretrievable blowhard.

Iavarone should have pulled the horse from him long ago.  There are just as good (and better) trainers than Dutrow - one's who handle the public better, work without the drug scandals and endless penalties and seem to be just nicer people.  I know - nice doesn't win races - but it does count in the arena of public opinion - and that is a big part of how the marketing money is made.

As to the Haskell - well, I know you have Nerud weighing in - and I'd be stupid to argue with a legend like that - but suffice it to say that I was with the remaining connections of a legendary racing team - and to a man/woman, they felt that BB ran a very average race - poor by his former standards, and that his feet are an issue that is not being made public.

In fact, joint opinion was that -  after being told that Dutrow pulled an audible and worked BB on turf prior to the race - to look for them to try to put him on grass next to try and save what's left of his feet.  Two days later?  The announcement that they want a grass race created for him!  If that wasn't prophetic - I don't know what was.

I don't think BB will make the Classic - I think he will retire due to the ubiquitous "phantom injury" a la Smarty Jones.  If he does actually make it to October - I do not think he is or will be the horse he appeared to be in May, and will face tougher opponents.  If he wins and I am wrong - well, there's a cup of coffee and breakfast on me with your name on it if we are ever in the same area of the track kitchen!

Curlin?  I wish he'd run in the Classic.  The great ones - the truly great ones could run on anything at any distance.  But I understand your concerns - it's a BIG unknown as to how the track plays.  But the great ones don't duck the biggest race in the game just because the track isn't the favorite.  Remember Sonny Hines bringing Skip Away back to the Cup at Churchill - a track SA hated?  He knew the horse wouldn't run his best - but he didn't duck.  That, my friend, is sportsmanship.

Like it or not - the big showdown should be in the Classic on the synthetic - and both horses should show and settle it one way or another.

One other note:  I had the chance to meet the grand old man, Evening Attire at his stall and also watch him out on the track at Saratoga.  Now - THAT is a horse story that people can get behind.  Great horse, great connections.  Honest, tactful, and loads of heart.  I'll be cheering for him most of all if he runs at Breeders Cup!

07 Aug 2008 5:36 PM

Steve, you and many others in the racing industry are just too nice when it comes to Rick Dutrow.  The man is a jerk, pure and simple.  And people just seem to give him a pass on it.  Success doesn't give you license to be a boor.  I can understand, though, that many in the industry have to work and be around the man so matters are best left alone for sake of peace.

As for Big Brown vs Curlin, unless the two race each other and Big Brown beats Curlin, any stating that Big Brown is better is mere speculation.  And unless Big Brown beats Curlin, I don't see how he could be named HOY.  Not when Curlin's connections will have given Big Brown's connections plenty of chances to face them.

And in regard to synthetics and this year's BC, I find it somewhat hypocritical for people to trash the BC for choosing a synthetic track and then to turn around and criticize trainers who hesitate to run their horses on it.  Curlin's people aren't the only ones who are doubtful about running their charges in the Breeder's Cup.  Zito and Frankel (Ginger Punch) have said there's a good chance they won't run their horses in the BC this year.

07 Aug 2008 5:54 PM

Hi Steve, great artical as usual. I personally love reading your oppinons, mainly because on most things the echo my own, or help me see things from a new angle.

My first thing is BB and his Haskel. I think that it was a good race coming off a very long layoff, but im afraid i'll have to reserve my judgement on whether BB is back or not. Don't get me wrong i think this is a terrific horse, i just don't think the Haskel was a true gauge on whether the horse is back to the top of his game. In saying that if BB comes and wins his next race,( in any kind of fashion), then i will agree that BB is in fact back.

Next, Mr. Haskin, i agree with your statement regaurding the two facing of in the Clark. I think that would be a perfect race to settle the dispute over who has the better horse. I personally think Curlin is the better of the two by a longshot. I have to say though i don't think it will happen, especially if BB wins the Classic. BB conections will probably make the excuse that they already won the Classic and have nothing left to prove and why should they chase Curlin. Also i doubt, very seriously they will go where Curlin goes. Just look at what just happened when Curlin said hay im going to the woodward come and get me. BB connections, and i hate to say it are ducking Curlin. BB had the perfect oppertunity to take Curlins crown, in a 11/4 on dirt, which they both excell at, and didn't take it. Actions speak louder than word, and Dutrows actions contridict his words. Dutrows actions speak fear, fear that his horse is going to get beat when actually faced with Curlin. So basiclly what im trying to say is why would BB connection race Curlin later in the year when they already threw out a perfect oppertunity to do it. I hope im wrong but i don't think i am, and can't see Dutrow sending his champ against Curlin, no matter what he says.

07 Aug 2008 5:55 PM
Will W

Dutrow's comments may well have been calculated to provoke Jackson, who's expressed reservations about running on a synthetic surface and made comments about the BC Classic like "been there, done that," to try Big Brown in the Classic. Isn't that what trash talk is about - to provoke the opposition into doing what you want. So Dutrow's apt comparisons of Big Brown's career with Curlin's and his claim of superiority for Big Brown indeed may well have traveled through and possibly originated in his head and not his gut. As for Jackson and his "slim chance" he may race Curlin next year and forget the lucrative breeding stall and "adding to the gene pool," here's hoping he remembers the sport and the fans and forgets mammon and the "industry." To see Curlin run at 5 or to either go further and let Curlin tell Jackson when he's ready to leave racing would stamp Jackson as a breed apart - a true sportsman who acted selflessly in the interest of racing and the racing public rather than as a business-minded CEO chasing extravagant levels of wealth and material excess. Curlin is a perfectly manageable and durable champion who if allowed to do his thing on the track instead of mounting mares in a breeding stall ad nauseum might bring back memories of the great handicap horses of recent memory -  Buckpasser,Damascus,Dr.Fager, et al. I'm tired of just watching geldings run as 5,6,and 7 year olds and beyond. If Jackson did so with Curlin it would be just what racing needs, i.e., to return in the direction of a sport rather than an industry. And, oh, would Jackson be beloved and admired by the racing public if he so acted as a breed apart.

07 Aug 2008 5:59 PM

I think it's clear why horses like Lion Heart, Point Given (et al) were "forgiven", and still had a large fan base...they did not have mouthpieces like Dutrow. While it may not be FAIR to heap the dislike on the horse, that is what happens. To consistently forgive Dutrow by making comments like "That's just how he is"...condones what has become really beyond obnoxious behavior. I personally don't find Dutrow honest (that's actually the last thing I find him), funny, or charming at ALL.

All that said, I can watch BB's race in the Haskell objectively, and say he "should have" walloped a horse like Coal Play (still eligilble for NW2 other than), and didn't. Tired off a lay off...or on a downward spiral? Remains to be seen.

The people around BB, intentionally or otherwise, have cemented the over-all public disdain. It's not about BB...but it's hard to root for the horse, because you're rooting for these connections too, by default, and that's where people draw the line.

It is just my humble opinion, but Dutrow is the POOREST representative of any aspect of this sport.

07 Aug 2008 6:09 PM

Steve, you expressed the same mixed feeling most of us have. Julie I agree with most of what you say. The only thing is the hard feelings between the horses of yore weren't public fodder that overwhelmed the two most important figures. Yes according to the book and the movie there was some calling out by the two parties but nothing like what is going on now. Maybe the difference is the thought that people can say anything they want under the guise of free speech. Maybe because of the internet or maybe because racing isn't thought of like it once was. Can you imagine a match race, one of them breaking down? I think that's something racing would never recover from. Meet in a regular race. Hey, wouldn't it be classic if they dueled each other then a horse held in lesser regard was to beat both. Wouldn't be the first or the last time. I personally don't think either can be labeled 'great' at this point, especially if you compare them to the greats Steve has chronicled so beautifully in past.

07 Aug 2008 6:23 PM

Curlin has already proven himself he's great! Big Brown is still on the road to proven hisself.Ilove both of them and I beleive every horse is something special to their owners and their public I don't like the thought of match races.Look what happened to Ruffian one of the greattest ever.

07 Aug 2008 6:27 PM
Two Faced

First you said lets have a showdown with Curlin and your horse Big Brown (who wasn't even your horse before the Kentucky Derby) in the Woodward. Now that Curlin is going to go in the Woodward your making up stupid excuses for Big Browns absense.

You and Dutrow are a perfect match.

07 Aug 2008 6:37 PM

Maybe trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. is making the most of his 15min of fame he is having this year courtesy of Big Brown. Scandals and the kind of debate-arising comments he makes certainly gets him all the attention. Just look at how much he gets printed and posted about him.

07 Aug 2008 6:56 PM
Loretta T.

Great article Steve. As you already know, we agreed 100%. I just hope and pray it never comes down to a "match race" between Curlin and Big Brown. We all know what happened in 1975's match race. Big Brown deserves much more credit than he has gotten in the media. We all know it's because of the trainer and problems with IEAH before the Kentucky Derby ran. But isn't the sport of horse racing mean it's about the talent of the "HORSE"? Good idea on the Clark too, I hope it happens.You know, Jess Jackson and Dutrow remind me of another famous pair from long ago: Charles Howard and Sam Riddle!!

07 Aug 2008 7:20 PM
Steve Haskin

Where oh where did I say Dutrow was good-hearted guy? I once wrote he had strong feelings for his horses. I dont even know him well enough to say that he's good-hearted. People just read what they want to read. I didn't call Dutrow for several weeks leading up to the Haskell because he acted like a jerk when I called him and he refused to comment on one of Big Brown's works. Suggesting people not pay any attention to his ramblings is hardly defending him. Yes, Big Brown's reputation and mainly his popularity has suffered because of Dutrow, but the ovation the horse received after the Haskell was the loudest I have ever heard at Monmouth in all my years of covering races there. So, not everyone dislikes the horse I can assure you.

07 Aug 2008 7:21 PM
Steve Haskin

It's amazing how the blog became mostly about Dutrow when it was intended to be about Curlin vs. Big Brown, the Classic, and the Haskell. To answer some comments, I never defended Dutrow's comments; I just said it's best to ignore them. If no one listens to him then we wouldnt have to keep adding fuel to his fire.

Dutrow's comments may very well have been calculated, but what I know of him he just talks. He wants to meet Curlin and he says so, clear and simple. He said he was "calling them out," but sometimes the gut and the brain are thinking and saying the same thing.

I also never said Big Brown was back. I said let's wait to see if he progresses or regresses off this race.

07 Aug 2008 7:30 PM
Steve Haskin

15 minutes of fame courtesy of Big Brown? He's already trained a BC Classic winner, BC sprint winner, and BC Mile winner, and a Horse of the Year. He has one of the top two sprinters in the country, the best grass miler. I hardly call that 15 minutes of fame courtesy of Big Brown. I'm not here to defend Dutrow, nor do I want to, but let's make some sense, please.

07 Aug 2008 7:34 PM

"an uneven playing field against seasoned synthetic track horses"?!?!?!

Who are these mythical "seasoned synthetic" horses?

Plus it's very presumptive to say the new surface will be an uneven playing field...No horse in the US will have run over this new surface before Oak Tree, so no horse has an advantage yet.  

Curlin and Big Brown should be out here in CA getting used to the place, NOT MAKING EXCUSES!

GREAT horses can run on anything!  

07 Aug 2008 7:36 PM
Steve Haskin

To prove my point, I have not responded to Two Faced's absurd comments, because he or she, like Dutrow, should be ignored for running off at the mouth without thinking.

07 Aug 2008 7:39 PM
Loretta T.

Regarding the Haskell and Big Brown:yes, my fellow New Jerseyans and I paid homage to a great horse. We cheered for him in the post parade and cheered even louder when he won and came back to the winner's circle.....After all he did win the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness. As for the Belmont.......I will never blame the horse; he didn't lose it, the loss came from a "human factor". And as for you "Two Faced": you obviously don't read all of Steve's articles!!!

07 Aug 2008 7:42 PM

Who ever said these two horses have to run against each other. Curlin is a good horse turned great with age and seasoning, he hasn't got anything to prove. I would put him back on dirt and leave him there until he retires. He will probably go past Cigar in money, but he will never match Cigar's record of races. They won't keep him out long enough and they don't race him enough. I wouldn't take him to the Breeder's Cup this year. That will probably be a big disappointment. The people in charge of it don't know when to leave well enough alone. Big Brown was an explosive horse, fun to watch, who has leveled off. I blame the Belmont on his trainer, I don't think he took the whole experience seriously and the horse paid the price. Now he needs to get his confidence back. The Haskell was a good start, but he won't be racing long enough to make a difference. These two horses do not need to square off against each other. Match ups are dangerous at least, possibly suicidal, just to satisfy egos and the publics need for blood. They are too valuable for that.

07 Aug 2008 7:44 PM

Steve you are right about people not making sense, though i hope im not in the catogory of not making any sense. I don't think Dutrow is a bad trainer by any means. The man has some of the best horses in training right now, so he must be doing something right. I don't think it's right to call you or anybody two faced for that matter either. Look at what i just did i just said Dutrow is a good trainer, so WHAT! You can be a good trainer and a jerk, which he is, but as said before the man knows what he's doing when training his horse, and normally the horse from what iv'e heard always comes first with him. To anybody out there who thinks im just defending dutrow or just some die hard BB fan your wrong. If BB and Curlin finally, though i doubt they will get togeather I hope Curlin wins by a mile. I love watching horses compete no matter what the sport, jumping, eventing, or racing. Trash talk goes on in all sports people, so get used to it, cause those people are always gonna be there. What you gotta do is concentrate on the good. In this case it would be that JJ brought Curlin back to race a 4 for our enjoyment. So can we stop being idiots and just enjoy Curlin, and BB, while there still here.

07 Aug 2008 7:57 PM


You write beautifully and you will get many responses to this blog because people feel passionately about these two horses.  

Yes, it has once again been taken back to Dutrow.  I truly wonder how differently things would have been had Dutrow not had Big Brown.

How differently people would have felt and how differently things would have turned out for Big Brown.  I cannot get behind a trainer who lacks any kind of class or sportsmanship.  He is an embarrassment to this sport, particularly with his remarks about the "Jap Horse" and the "Godzilla" thing and "foregone conclusion".  He disappeared after the Belmont disaster and the "forgone conclusion".  He was mighty humble in his interviews before the Haskell and there were only a couple as I'm sure Ivarone is doing most of the talking now which he should have done since the beginning.

As for the horse, yes he was pretty amazing in the Derby and the Preakness, the Belmont, well we all know what happened there but, Steve, do you really think he would have won the Haskell had there been better competition in it?  I don't think so.  Ivarone didn't want to go to the Travers, why do you think?  The Haskell was easier.  They worked him on the turf for his feet.  That's not good.  He's also steriod free now.  Has it made a difference?  Who knows?  One thing is for sure, he has bad feet.  They shouldn't be running him.  Had he won the Belmont, he would be retired.  They need to have him go out a winner but I think they should just retire him to save his poor feet.

Dutrow taunts Jackson because Jackson doesn't want to run on synthetic.  I hope Mr. Jackson changes his mind.  Curlin is a healthy sound horse and I don't think synthetic surface will bother him.

But then, I don't know the horse, they do. On the other hand, it appears that that BB's connections don't really want any part of Curlin or they would meet at the end of the month.  Perfect race for the two of the them.  They know Curlin would be the toughest horse they faced and they can't risk it, instead, Dutrow will jab him in the press and say BB is better because Curlin was beaten by a girl in a race the BB came in dead last.  What about that?  Oh, I forgot, it was the shoe, it was the starter, it was the heat, it was his feet, it was the jock.  I've never seen so many excuses for a horse losing.  

In all honesty, I don't think Big Brown will make it to the classic.  They don't know if he can run on synthetic either, that's a big gamble because he will be facing older horses for the first time and good older horses not non-grade one winners.

By the way, I would love to commend you on the wonderful pre-derby daily articles!  They are wonderful!

07 Aug 2008 7:58 PM


I really enjoy reading your articles and your responses to people's comments. You handle everything with class and dignity.

Keep up the good work!

07 Aug 2008 8:04 PM
Rusty O.

Mr. Haskin,

It all goes back to a GREAT horse can run on anything!!!! I hate synthetic tracks!! However, if Curlin, Big Brown are true champs they, to me, should be able to run on dirt, turf, fake tracks, gravel, pavement, concrete, etc. Being from HS, I watched Curlin in the Rebel, AR Derby and have been with him throughout. He is a champ. He would smoke BB!!! BB is just on top of a weak 3yo crop!!!! Last year's 3yo's were way better and CURLIN BEAT OLDER HORSES!!!!! Also even if BB was better Kent would get him beat and then cry about it like a little baby on national tv.

07 Aug 2008 8:12 PM

Alright! you go Steve!!! I agree with you that one race doesn't usually prove anything and a lot of the talk about Rick belongs on the other blog by Jason. Course some people saw it a throw down and that's probably what generated the comments. Plus it's gotten pretty difficult to separate the horses from the mudslinging going on. I kind of can't figure what else is generating all of this polarization that I don't think is good for racing. You could always do like one of your colleagues and edit the comments and then respond directly to the commentor via email. You're pretty openminded and brave to do it this way. Bet it's irritating to have your words twisted though. I bought into it too from another poster and responded to someone who tried to connect it to the days of old that you write about so well (well not that far back).  

07 Aug 2008 8:15 PM

As I quoted before on Jason Shandler's blog: To my mind, the type of surface should not deter the aims of a true champion. However it's easy for me to say as I hold no ownership stake in either horse.

Much like how Astroturf once took over major league baseball before owners went back to building "Old style ballparks", synthetic racing surfaces are here for now. Soon the breeding sheds will take synthetic surfaces into account. We'll be looking to see how someone's sire fared on Polytrack.

I'd like to see Big Brown and Curlin hook up. I'm not holding my breath and also one race would not be enough to settle the debate.

Myself, I think Curlin is better but the beauty of horse racing is that these debates live on with new horses thrown into the mix each year.

Maybe if there's a Strat-O-Matic type of horseracing game, then people could set up a "Racing World Series" that could include a dirt race, turf race, and one over a synthetic surface. I'm sure computer programmers have already "raced them" in simulated races.

In the meantime, there are thousands of races to handicap. Time to hit the books everybody!

07 Aug 2008 8:28 PM

As I have heard many old timers say "A good horse will run over broken beer bottles". Any horse that will let a track beat him is a notch below the best. I like Curlin's chances better.

07 Aug 2008 8:34 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Melissa. I'm all for differences of opinions as long as the exchanges are civil and there is some thought process involved. All those Dutrow haters who call people names and accuse them of defending Dutrow obviously have never heard of the expression "pot calling the kettle black." They're doing the same thing they're accusing Dutrow of doing. So, if they despise Dutrow, what do they think of themselves?

Monica, I really can't say what Big Brown would have done against better compeition until I see what Coal Play does in his next start. Maybe he's just getting really good right now. Who knows? That's why I said let's wait for Big Brown's next race to get a better idea where he is. Point Given looked very ordinary in the Haskell, but came back and ran a monster race in the Travers. Same with Curlin in the Haskell and JC Gold Cup. It's all about progression.

Things might very well have been different had someone else trained Big Brown, but do are you referring to popularity or performance? I certainly cant imagine the horse performing any better for another trainer.

And just to clear this up. I am a fan of both Big Brown and Curlin. As a writer I try to remain as objective as possible, and just hope the best horse wins. Both are gifted horses and if they were to meet I would root for a good race before I would root for any one of them to beat the other.

07 Aug 2008 8:36 PM
Steve G

Some people react to the name Dutrow the same way Lou Costello reacted when he heard the words "Niagara Falls." Those individuals consistently engage in the same kind of mindless blathering they profess to detest in him...go figger, Steve. :)

I was impressed by Big Brown's Haskell for his display of courage and heart.  That was an ingredient his detractors demanded when he dominated the Florida Derby, the KD and the Preakness...the refrain then was:  untested!  His opponents are less than mediocre...who's he beating?

To me, the horse was in a no-win situation to win over detractors in the Haskell.  If he blew the doors off the race and won by 10, gearing down - then the opposition would have been declared weak, or worse.  He runs a very gutty Haskell and runs down a very tough on the day, Coal Play, off a layoff and a traumatic experience in the Belmont, which just so happens to be the 3rd leg of the TC...and the detractors will still equivocate...

Unfortunately, alot of the distaste for Dutrow and to a lesser extent, IEAH, has bled over onto the horse...that's the only explanation I can come up with.

Then, when Curlin's name comes up...Curlin Nation stands up for their boy and denounces BB as a pretender, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

( of course, if one mentions Asmussen's less than stellar history with  meds...well, they may retort, at least he's not Dutrow!)

In a weird way, I think all of this "interest" and "passion" these two horses and their teams seem to evoke is very good for the sport...which leads me to my final point: (sorry for the long-winded run up.) The ultimate fan experience would be for them to meet in the BC Classic. Forget about the surface...it's not like they would be running in horsey space suits on the moon. Neither will be any more danger than usual running on dirt or turf.  Neither has an edge on the stuff.  Why not?

I think if there was a national poll asking the fans where they would want to see these two meet, the Classic would win hands down.

Unfortunately, I do not believe it gonna happen. With that in mind, I like your idea for the Clark.

One way or the other...this rivalry and endless debate about who is better than who should be settled on the track.

07 Aug 2008 8:44 PM

Steve, You mentioned Rick Dutrow in your article and that is not a subject that too many people are neutral about.

Unfortunately you can't even mention Big Brown with out Dutrow coming up as the major focus and people seem to be all in, in one corner or the other no middle ground. He's seen to that. Of course, it's pretty hard to discuss a horse and leave the connections out of the picture no matter how hard you try to focus on the animal especially since the colt can't tell us what is really going on. As a trainer I wish mine could all the time, as a colleague of Ricky's I pray for it for his. I for one don't think one race tells the tale and I'm not ready to classify either of these horses with the likes of Secretariat or any of the great ones I've seen run or you have written about so well in previous articles. I definitely don't want a match race. Like Jordan said can you even imagine how devastating that would be to racing if something tragic happened? Also as he said and as we on the track know, this kind of 'my horse is better than yours' is what racing is all about. We usually take it to the track, but it still doesn't prove much cause the next race the other guy could win. As far as Ricky dissing you (as the kids say), well that's Ricky, not a very attractive feature. As far as 15 minutes of fame that's ridiculous, he just wasn't as bigmouthed about it because remember that was one race on one day. We all wondered how he would handle this high profile intense media and some tried to counsel him to err on the side of caution but it didn't work. As you quoted in your article, what Jess said is what a lot of us think, this isn't good for racing. I have recently come back on here to comment at the behest of some people asking for trainers or race trackers to comment. The funny thing is they just ignore us too, like they know more about it than we do, heck maybe they do, I don't think so though. I have talked at length on other blogs on here when people make outlandish statements that they know nothing about and have found it to be about as futile as you when you were trying to present a balance article and argument. I think some of the people on here are the kind that if we have them as an owner we want to throw up when we see them coming and the others are the kind we love to have. Guess which ones we stop working for as soon as we're able.

07 Aug 2008 8:46 PM
Karen in Indiana

There are such strong opinions of these 2 horses. Why can't people appreciate both? They have different strengths. Curlin has a no-nonsense approach to his races - he gets out there and does his best. Most of the time that's been good enough to win, sometimes it hasn't. He's also proved himself in a world audience. Big Brown loves to run. When he's trained properly and the jockey leaves him alone, he's outta there. But he's been plagued by inconsistent training, a jockey who likes to prove himself by fighting to make the horse do what HE wants him to do and it's cost Big Brown. Both trainers have used steroids on their horses and both of them now say they've quit. Jess Jackson has done a great thing for the sport by allowing Curlin to continue racing, Mike Iavarone and IEAH are building an animal hospital and funding groups like ReRun. To quote the Joker in Batman 'Why can't we all just get along?'. Appreciate each horse for their strengths and give them room for their weaknesses.

07 Aug 2008 9:00 PM


Okay - you didn't use the term "good-hearted guy" per se - but in reviewing past articles and blogs where you've discussed Dutrow's continued obnoxious comments shows - in my opinion - an overall effort to give this guy a pass for every boorish comment.  You never have weighed in negatively on his behavior besides giving mild chastisement, a knowing writer's wink and instructions to readers to understand he just is what he is - for better or worse.

Well - it is worse.  Bad behavior isn't excusable when nothing is ever done to change.  You'd have thought the smackdown of the Belmont would have taught him a bit about public relations and humility - but no - he's right back at it and feeding it to an all too willing and eager media.

I know you really have admiration for Big Brown, and think he is a really special horse.  I'd think that - as such an admirer - you'd resent the horse's black mark on his reputation because of this guy.  No - it doesn't affect his record or his talent - only his popular appeal, but it is popularity with the mass audience that cements a horse in history.  

To just ignore Dutrow and his comments and push him into the anonymity he so richly deserves would be grand, but the simple fact is that you and every other reputable writer and reporter capture and relay every nasty or ludicrious comment.  Maybe the media should just not give him coverage on these kind of comments.  Cover the horse (he is the point of the story, after all)and when Dutrow opens his mouth and lets another bon mot of trash talk roll out (and he will - its like death and taxes) no one will quote him!  

I agree - this has become about a guy who doesn't deserve the coverage and not about a great potential match up between two horses.  Nuff said - let's get back to that!

07 Aug 2008 9:00 PM

Hey Steve. Interesting read, and the comments are equally so. If I had one aside, it's this: the suggestion of just ignoring Dutrow and he'll go away, so to speak, isn 't very feasible, and a little naive, sorry to say. It's the media that interviews him, and then prints/airs the comments. Personally, I have stopped reading any/all articles on Big Brown, for exactly that-I do not want to hear another word out of Dutrow's mouth. It's harder to do on a TV broadcast though, as there you are, watching, and eventually, hearing! He can only be ignored up to a point.

I did love Cgriff's post here. I too am weary of people seeming to "defend" Dutrow, when he's gotten well past the point of being defensible, IMO

I'd love a Curlin vs. Big Brown  match-up, whenever and wherever it took place. I also whole-heartedly believe that Curlin would hand BB his head. Let's hope it happens, regardless of how unlikely it may seem right now.

Keep burnin' up the blog-waves, Steve! We're readin' :)

07 Aug 2008 9:01 PM
Loretta T.

Steve, your last comment on rooting for a good race, rather than one beating the other, proves why you have many fans. You are a true "horse racing" fan!

07 Aug 2008 9:06 PM

That is a very good point made by Gail.  Why do these two great animals have to run against either.  Both of them held to their OWN merit (and not to some big mouth trainers ego) are good sound race proven horses and isn't that enough?  

07 Aug 2008 9:07 PM

Hi Steve - love your writing. Let me join the nitpickers for a moment. I don't think we will see another "great" horse until they start "racing" them again.  A race every 3 months does not a great horse make.

It surprises me that the steroids have been swept under the carpet. BB was doing fine until taken off them.  Have always wondered about Secretariats fertility problems until some time had passed.

I love all the horses and just want to see them run "their" races.

Thanks for the space to ramble

07 Aug 2008 9:22 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, what a truly great piece. I want to thank you for being OBJECTIVE about Rick Dutrow. The vitriol about him is totally unwarranted. No, he isn't Mr. Charm/Personality but he cares about his horses and he is an excellent trainer. I admire him for that. I also admire him for turning his life around. Nothing Dutrow has said is so awful that he deserves the kind of nutty responses I have seen on some of these blogs. Frankly, I was kind of happy for him when BB won the Haskell. He was devastated when he lost the Belmont and it showed. It's clear he has issues in the way he relates to people but I take what he says with a grain of salt and let it go. I AM part of the viewing public and for me, it's about the horse, period.

I was interested in your comments about what might be wrong with BB, assuming there is something wrong. I think he is a wonderful horse and I hope they can cure what ails him so he can run again before they retire him. Thanks again for a nice perspective on BB AND Rick Dutrow.

07 Aug 2008 9:37 PM

Amen Steve, I would root for a good race as well. But as I read these comments, a thought strikes me. Do the Fans really deserve these two horses running together? I think BB should run his Philly Derby, (I'll be there again.)Curlin his Woodward, then on to the BC. Then, retire BB because I think his feet will warrant it, and Curlin? I think he should hang around a while....

No showdown - No matchrace. Then on to the 2 yr. olds so these "wonderful fans" can pick another trainer and horse to bash.... It wouldn't be so hard to stomach all the bashing if it were fair. But there are trainers out there that these fans know and admire, that have many many more drug violations, suspensions, kill buyers hanging around their barns, and are as rude as Dutrow can be, it's just not printed, or people just ignore it. I just don't get it. And I'm supposed to figure out how to better market a sport with fans spewing this drivel.....in public forum?

07 Aug 2008 9:38 PM
starred chestnut

Just read some of Gary Steven's book: he told what a nightmare the Haskell was for Point Given: the horse wasn't quite himself, he was in trouble at the gate, confusing instructions from BB, etc. Seems that the money with the Haskell often is too tempting to pass up, whether the dominating spring classic horses are ready or not. Don't care for Dutrow, but thought that he tried to edit himself before the race the best he knows how.  I know plenty of trainers and horsemen who are great horse people, but not people people.  

07 Aug 2008 9:47 PM

I really enjoy reading everything you write.  Maybe it's because I always agree with you.  That's certainly the case again today.  I'm actually responding, though, because I'm wishing that people who are down on Big Brown because of Dutrow could put things in perspective.  Dutrow never brags about himself.  He talks about how is horses are doing.  And everything he said about Curlin after the Haskell is true.   Curlin did not win the Kentucky Derby.  Curlin did not win the Haskell.  And Curlin WAS beaten by a filly.   Despite all these facts and the fact that some of Curlin's owners have  some "legal" problems, people still hold Curlin in high regard and he was voted Horse Of The Year.  Why can't we just love Big Brown the same way?  I think ALL horses deserve to be loved no matter what the people around them do. I'm a big fan of Curlin AND Big Brown and think it would be fun if they could eventually meet, but I do not care which one wins as long as they are safe.

07 Aug 2008 10:03 PM
Vincent Reo


Big Brown received one of the loudest standing ovations you ever heard because people remember the Kentucky Derby and in this dying industry they are looking for something, anything to pin their dreams of another super horse on. I love the sport but it is dying. As for Dutrow, where was he this time last week making these comments? If he was so confident in his horse he would make them all the time. Actually where were these comments at any point since the Belmont? Nowhere, and now it seems he has ignored that fact that he was life and death to win against one of the worst Haskell field in years, he has vocally jumped back on his bandwagon. Your reaction to these comments, is most disappointing. You can say that's Dutrow being Dutrow and I have no problem with because anyone that knows horseracing can see him for what he really is, but you saw nothing about it being bad for the sport. Did you ever see the great trainers of the past who had proven champions talk that way, Mack Miller, Lukas, etc? The fact is this is the Dutrow/IEAH show to live up to the $50 million in breeding rights. Of course that price was based on the superhorse performances when he was on steroids. Do you think they would have gotten that much if he didn't win that way? Now that he is off them (no injections since after running in the Preakness), no one seems to notice the correlation between running steroid-free and his poor performances. The will run him in a turf race that he can't lose and then onto the Breeders' Cup where they know there is a very good chance Curlin will not show up. It's all good. Continue to ignore his declining form and make excuses, just like Street Sense last year, you will bet him down and hopefully some of the smarter bettors will find the improving horse like Curlin to bet this year.  But don't worry after you throw your ticket down, you'll have the polytrack to blame it on. LOL.

07 Aug 2008 10:08 PM

interesting blogs and great article, i love to read your blogs steves. in my opition curlin will beat big brown in any race they'll meet. i saw and the're off episode were you said that the filly in california, i think is zenata should run in the classic instead of the ditaff, but i think the classic is been set for a upset and will be beating on student council to win this years classic it should be good money. when are you going to do a blog on the breeders cup division and contenders.

07 Aug 2008 10:10 PM

I think CGriff makes a good point about sportsmanship and the willingness of people to put their horses into situations that may not be tailor-made for them so the game itself will benefit.  A good example of this is the time Martha Gerry ran Forego against Honest Pleasure on a muddy track that Forego hated.  The big horse spun his wheels around Belmont that day, but somehow Shoemaker got Forego to the wire first with a furious charge to run down the loose-on-the-lead Honest Pleasure.  Now, neither Mrs. Gerry nor Frank Whiteley could have been very confident at the outset of the race since Forego had some well know infirmities which made it very difficult to find his best stride on off tracks.  However, they went ahead and competed.  The afterglow of that race gave Forego legendary status which he richly deserved.  Not only did he overcome adversity, but he did so carrying half the grandstand on his back as well.  That kind of willingness to challenge your own horse as well as the others set Mrs. Gerry and Mr. Whiteley apart.  I only wish Mr. Jackson would consider this when he makes his decision about whether or not to run in the BC Classic.

07 Aug 2008 10:13 PM

Great article Steve! I agree with your assessment!  What a confusing year for racing! I do hope they meet on a dirt surface but I doubt we'll see it.  I am really wondering about the comment though by people who keep saying "great horses can run on anything..."  That would seem to indicate that if either of them lose on a synthetic then they aren't great horses.  BUT what great horses are everyone referring to?  Synthetics didn't exist when the greats of the past were running and very few of them ever ran on turf-only dirt. So what "anything" were they running on?  Doesn't make sense to me - just a random statement that doesn't apply.  Kinda like people saying "great" horses can overcome ANYTHING.  But not really - or ALL the "great" horses in the past would have retired undefeated-then they truly would have overcome EVERYTHING. Another random statement that sounds good but isn't true.  Do you agree?  By the way, I recently got your newest book - it was excellent!!!  Thanks for all the great writing!

07 Aug 2008 10:29 PM
Saratoga AJ

I'm going to repeat a comment that I said in an earlier blog. I've been watching all the great ones since I was a kid starting with the mighty Kelso. And I believe that Curlin can/will be mentioned with all the great ones.

Look, I can't recall any other horse accomplishing what he did in the span of 9 months. Break his maiden at first try in February, and win the BC Classic and HOTY in November. The greatest trainer of my lifetime, Allen Jerkens summed it up best when he said of Curlin after his BC triumph "he's not one in a million, he's one in a zillion" to achieve what he did in such a short span of time. And the "Chief" has been training winners and seen the best of the best since 1950. Enough said.

07 Aug 2008 11:08 PM

Dutrow has had wonderful horses before, including HOTY Saint Liam. Was he saying stupid stuff then, or did the media just not quote him? If he wasn't saying stupid stuff, then indeed he can control his mouth and now he's choosing not to. Very boorish. You can express love and admiration for your horse without dumping on the horses of others (who love and admire their charges too). Now, on topic. I think both horses would run well on synthetic (assuming Brown is right -- feet? teeth? something). However, it would be hard for me to dog either set of connections for choosing not to run on an untested synthetic track.

07 Aug 2008 11:09 PM

you folks have written another South Pacific here...keep up the good work...LLTK & The Dirt!!!

07 Aug 2008 11:30 PM

One of the authors in your blog stable wrote a very interesting post questioning the "gospel" that synthetic tracks are safer for racehorses.  As I recall (and I could be wrong), the  doubt arises with the fact synth. surface does not allow the horse's foot to "slide" ever so slightly as it would on a natural dirt track.

The column brought to mind the long-ago excitement over astroturf being installed on football fields.  Only years later did anyone finally admit it was causing numerous career-shortening injuries.

Considering the value of both horses, and the uncertainty of the still-uninstalled track surface, avoiding the Classic might be the smartest idea for both trainers.

08 Aug 2008 12:02 AM

I truly believe Big Brown's Haskell win was good and he should be given merit. What about Street Sense winning the Travers over Grasshopper by smaller margin than BB's win? He was considered the same after that race, unlike Big Brown. Grasshopper was an allowance winner as Coal Play was, so I don't see a difference. As to Curlin, he's a great horse that needs to prove nothing. I do believe he should meet Big Brown in the classic and let the best one win, but winning the BC Turf wouldn't be that bad either. A match in the Clark sounds like a great idea if they don't meet in the BC. And if they never meet, they'll still be great horses in racing history, at least for me.

08 Aug 2008 12:12 AM

To be honest Steve all of this is a bit silly.  Its very simple the Breeder's Cup Championship takes place at the end of October and Big Brown having never run on the stuff is going to win the crown and HOY.

If he wins he IS HOY.  Period end of story. Curlin won his Championship in the mud... you didn't see any owners scratching their horses because the track wasn't to their liking. This years race is on a Poly surface if Curlin is all that start training him and getting him ready for the Poly and quit whining.  The fact is Jackson only wants to run him on dirt and dirt only... well we can't always have our way can we.  He ran him on turf... why not get him started on Poly ?  Mr. Jackson Curlin is not the best unless he faces the best 3 year old he is only the best OLDER horse.  The connections for Big Brown have given you a 3 months notice get ready for the Breeder Cup because we will be there.  If you choose not to defend the title you are DUCKING Big Brown plain and simple.

08 Aug 2008 12:23 AM

Hey Steve,

I understand your progression theory but I truly think there is something wrong with Big Brown.  I watched the interview with Dutrow and the cockiness and sureness he had was gone.  He used the phrase "if he doesn't run well" or words like that.  Training him on grass because of his feet.  I don't think the horse is doing all that well.  He sure wasn't the same horse we saw in May.  Maybe his terrible Belmont was a sign of something wrong that has not been found.  He wasn't racing against really good horses in the Haskell and for a few moments I thought he'd be second.  There is something going on there.  KD was whipping him and I never had to do that before.

I truly hope the horse is okay but

it all seems very strange to me.  He had a brilliant spring campaign but he just isn't the same horse.  That is just my opinion of course.

08 Aug 2008 12:34 AM

Oh, these "fans."  So many of them on this blog are starting to remind me of seeing a WWWF match on TV where fans jeer and boo at whoever they perceive to be the villain, only in this case, they're transferring villain status to the animals vicariously through their connections.  Both horses, Curlin and Big Brown, are tremendous animals, but the way people take sides in this issue, so venomously, is not only childish, it makes me wonder what they're REALLY angry about.  Surely, they can't really be that down on a horse!  I for one am a Big Brown fan, but I love them both, and I, too, just want a great race.  Steve, it's too confusing to repeat, but I like your scenario on how to hook them up!

08 Aug 2008 12:48 AM

Steve, sorry for bringing this up when you said Rick wasn’t the subject at hand. However he, his remarks and his horse are forever linked in our minds. What gets to most of us who train alongside him everyday is this strange need he has to drag all of us into his world, knowing he can push just so far before we push back,enough is enough. Racetrackers don’t usually do what he does and Mr. Jackson is correct, it’s not good for racing. It creates negativity in the minds of the casual or TC, BC only fans. Yes Steve, he just talks, but a  lot of people listen & take it for the gospel this proved it like:

PAULA, Re-read Steve's responses. He said he didn't defend Rick & how disrespectful Rick was to him. Well he’s done it to a bunch of us. He hasn’t just called out the Curlin connections he’s called out a lot of his colleagues, all on public record. You have your opinion of him, yet no one else is entitled to theirs? You talk about the vitriol spewed at him,he spews freely himself. If you don’t know from whence you speak, then don’t speak at all.  You don’t want to hear negative comments, then don’t call people out with your uninformed opinion. You want to know what a wonderful person he is,read the first person accounts of his behavior. You said he’s turned his life around,how? He just had another drug positive, lied by omission to his owners and again insulted his colleagues in a public forum. His personal issues  affect his professional behavior, that is the only reason that aspect continues to be mentioned.  Is he a good horseman, yes. You said you are part of the viewing public if that’s all you are interested in then reserve YOUR comments on his comments and behavior towards his fellow trainers. Trust me you wouldn’t like to hear it from your colleagues. I’d venture that your profession’s comments don’t make it into the newspapers or get made fun of on ESPN. Or for that fact are discussed in a public forum.

Norma Jean, once again you represent yourself to be in the know or involved in racing. Those are some pretty strong comments you made. You know all of your statements to be facts? I can’t think of too many of the people you are talking about.Even though we have our battles in racing we don’t usually air them in public, denigrate our colleagues or other horses with no provocation. Rick has chosen to do so to a lot of us. I think that give us ample provocation to respond. I’m not as good humored as Nick or Wayne or as well spoken as Jess I think I’ll side with David, Gary, and some of the many others that he has called out and embarrassed while he embarrassed our industry along with it. I suggest to both of you & others on here, don't get angry for the negative comments, don’t get angry for the positive comments.Better yet don’t even talk about him pro or con unless you know Rick first hand.

08 Aug 2008 12:55 AM

Thanks for a thought provoking, well worded article! I know the Big Brown connections will get blasted for "dodging" Curlin.  However, I personally believe that Big Brown is not ready, and won't be in a month, to face Curlin.  Curlin is a mature, nicely seasoned racehorse running at the top of his game.  Big Brown could use another race under him before he takes a big step up in class.  As far as the BC races being on a synthetic surface, well it just is what it is.  It is still the Breeders Cup, meant to be the showcase of the sport, and regardless of your feeling for the surface, you should show up and run.  If your horse performs poorly everyone will throw the race out anyways.  But to not show up proves nothing at all.  I still hope for a Curlin/BB match up on BC day, either the Classic or the Turf.  But if not, I like your suggestion too.  To not have these 2 wonderful horses meet somewhere, sometime will be very disappointing!

08 Aug 2008 12:59 AM
Diane D

I know about BB's history of foot troubles, but is there anything current which backs up the numerous statements about "bad feet"? I thought the Haskell was a very gutsy race for BB,and he showed the heart of a champion. It may be that this years crop of three yearolds isn't stellar, but he has beaten all of them each time he has raced..except for the Belmont..a race still hard to explain although I feel it was a combo of circumstances beyond the horse's control. Give the horse his due ! And Dutrow doesn't affect my pleasure in watching BB run..in fact he seemed so subdued prior to the Haskell that I missed his confident bluster. His manner is not mine, but I don't find him that offensive. Oh, do we know how many other thoroughbreds who have raced in this years TC were ever given steroids also? I am very glad that the sport is moving away from the meds. The horse comes first!

08 Aug 2008 1:54 AM

Steve, I think this is a no-win subject. It evokes strong feelings from both points of view.

Apparently no one can separate the horse from the trainer,  just like Larry Jones said on here a couple months ago.  People express their feelings, then get  slammed by people who don’t like the negative comments, which is kind of hypocritical because they are doing some heavy duty slamming themselves.

I can tell this has motivated people who would probably never speak out in a million years, to feel a need to defend themselves and their sport, I’ve seen it on  other blogs. I know if I was a trainer or an owner like Mr. Jackson, I’d be really angry about some of the blanket statements made on here by people who are clueless as to what really goes on. Some think they can say what they want, make whatever accusations pop into their heads and no one should get angry. The fact is Dutrow continues to throw down the gauntlet and say very negative things about his industry, he opens himself up for the backlash. Then you get people on here like Norma Jean who throws out these statements without having firsthand information, yet presenting it like she is in the know, that incites the people who  are in racing and read these comments to react to people like her. She’s spouting rumors and suppositions others are commenting on quotes and documented information. Who comes off as ignorant here Norma Jean. I think a new subject is called for here it seems a shame to continue to define the sport  with more negativity.

08 Aug 2008 8:37 AM

As I've mentioned before , its nice to have a column where we can express our thoughts and hear the various comments.

I, for one, do not think a meeting between BB and Curlin would solve anything. I think it would raise more questions than answers.  As we know, on any one given day, anyone can win , anyone can lose. Suppose both horse's were to meet at The Breeders Cup , and neither won, would we then say, the track had something to do with it?

Does it really matter if one horse is better than the other ? What if one of them got injured , you know for sure you'd hear a million naysayers. I say, let each horse run its own schedule without the pressure from outside. Tiz better to leave a question in someone's mind who might be the better , than to provoke controversy.

We all know what Curlin has done already, does he have to proven anything to anyone , whereas BB has some catching up to do , to say he is in the same category as Curlin.

We only have 4 months left to the end of the year and a new crop of three year olds will surface , BB will be off to breeding land , and his legacy will always remain The Belmont ; a match race won't erase that memory from people's minds, cause they'll always say

" what if " .

08 Aug 2008 9:05 AM


Great article. I must say though I always look at speed figures as anly a piece of the puzzle when handicaping.I know all the top outfits rely on these figures when purchasing horses, but If they were so reliable all you would have to do to make money in this game would be to bet or buy only horse with the highest numbers.Big Brown,on paper,raced against a mediocre field and visually it was a very underwhelming performance.I believe the observance of veteran horseman is probably more reliable than any unscientific figure.

08 Aug 2008 9:20 AM

MikeM, How right you are about the veteran horseman's comments about the underwhelming performance. Unforturnately. The folks on here not in the industry feel this bizarre need to tell everybody what to think about a variety of subjects that they really know absolutely NOTHING about. PURE SPECULATION unless you're attending to your RACE HORSES this morning folks. I don't think I'd be telling the surgeon how to remove that tumor, just like a lot of these folks on here shouldn't be trying to tell race track people what to think about one of their own or tell them and the world the why's and wherfores of how the horses ran or will run. Seems kind of strange to me.IMHO

08 Aug 2008 9:57 AM
Katherine Cyrier

Steve, as always, I look forward eaglerly for your comments and articles regarding the horses. I agree with your comments regarding Dutrow. Dutrow is Dutrow, a gifted trainer, passionate about his horses (which he should be). I think everyone should step back and enjoy these magnificent horses for themselves and not let connections color their perceptions of the horses. I admit at first I did the same, but we can all learn.  IEAH is doing some wonderful things for the horses. All of BB's connections really love the horses.

On a different note, I really enjoy your books. The story you related about John Henry and "his" comments about his life and mother were fascinating.  I wish IEAH would have someone talk to BB. Maybe BB would share what is going on.

I love Curlin and BB and I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to witness the accomplishments of both of these very gifted horses. Thank you to Mr. Jackson and IEAH!


08 Aug 2008 10:01 AM
Steve Haskin

CGriff, what is wrong with mild chastisement? I am neither judge nor jury and I am not going to chastise someone in a heated manner when the rest of the world is doing such a good job at it. I point out his bad points and his good points. To me, that is sufficient. No one is all bad, regardless of what you may think. Well, maybe Stalin, Hitler, and Saddam Hussein, but I'm not ready to put Mr. Dutrow in that category for mouthing off. I do agree with you you about not using his quotes, but if one writer uses his quotes everyone will. Newspapers are in competition and no one wants to be the only one without the quotes. Most readers want to read them -- you know the old train wreck analogy.

08 Aug 2008 10:04 AM
Steve Haskin

Nancy, I agree with what you say, and it is not nitpicking. We need horses to race. I dont feel the steroids issue regarding Big Brown has been swept under the carpet. We actually have Dutrow to thank for bringing out in the open. You wouldnt believe the percentage of horses today who are on steroids. Curlin certainly was on them, and another major stable uses them on all their horses and more often than Big Brown used them. Steroids goes way back, even with many of those great French fillies that used to knock off the colts all the time. If you minimize Big Brown's accomplishments because he took Winstrol once a month, trust me, you'd re-evaluate your opinion of many past champions.

08 Aug 2008 10:13 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Paula, for at least providing a voice of reason on the other side. As you said, what Dutrow has done does not warrant the extreme hatred that is being exhibited by the vast majority of people. Some of his actions deserve a degree of animosity, but not to this extent.

08 Aug 2008 10:19 AM
Steve Haskin

Excellent post, Norma Jean. And you're right about some trainers being a lot more rude than Dutrow. There are some trainers who have mood swings you wouldnt believe. But when you have to deal with them, you accept any personality flaws they may have and just try to catch them at the right time. The public may look at them as simply trainers who dish out quotes, but, like all of us, they are complex and have their flaws. You just deal with it.

I will address some of the other comments later on.

08 Aug 2008 10:26 AM

Mr. Haskin, I like your articles on the horses. But you, like so many speaking on here, are an outsider. You have no idea how much this infighting damages our sport, offends and affects us, or maybe you do. To you guys it's like you said, a train wreck you can't stop watching, to us it's like being on the train.

08 Aug 2008 10:31 AM
Steve Haskin

Bill, what an owner does with a 7-year-old gelding is not the same as what an owner does with a horse that is worth $40-50 million. There were no Three Chimneys or Darley or Lane's End breathing down Mrs. Gerry's neck making sure she did nothing to hurt their investment.  Unfortunately, it's different game today.

Jazznmimi, you make an excellent point that Dutrow only brags about his horses, never himself. He said on numerous occasions that anyone can train Big Brown. Oops, I did it again. I guess that will bring forth another firestorm of criticism.

CGriff, you write: "Okay - you didn't use the term "good-hearted guy" per se." Then, why did you say I did? You can disagree with any comments I make or even any opinions I have, but you should generalize them and not use specific comments that I never said. I do, however, appreciate your thoughts and opinions in general.

08 Aug 2008 10:39 AM

Great comments Steve----You confirmed what I said on a recent blog.---What's wrong with Big Brown?---probably nothing, at least nothng to be overly concerned about.  Monmouth can be a tough track for come-from-behinders when trying to catch a good speed horse.  I believe Coal Play was basically finished with a 1/16th to go.  BB still had a lot left and proved it by the way he guttged out the win (it almost looked like he was just getting going).  To me he ran like a horse that wasn't going to be beaten---the time was very good---he would have won by 8-12 lengths going 1-1/4M.  I believe there are some soundness issues but given proper timing they can be overcome---saying that I still believe Curlin is the better horse.  However, given the opportunity who knows how good BB might turn out to be...What really impressed me about his Derby and Preakness wins was when they showed camera footage from behind the horse when he drew off in the stretch (his tremendous acceration and leg action)---it's too bad his trainer isn't more likeable because I wonder how many people are actually against the horse because of him.

08 Aug 2008 10:52 AM

I guess Rick must not have been the only trainer who shut you out. My guess is if any of the rest of our fraternity are reading this you may get the cold shoulder from a lot of us. The people you commend for their excellent posts have no insight into what really goes on, I've figured out that you have only a biased viewpoint. Sad you feel the need to attack what provides you with a livelihood and support people who may never read another article on here again. Wait I think you inspired that of a couple dozen of us racing people too.

08 Aug 2008 10:54 AM

Your article is great. I feel the same as you regarding Dutrow.  He just tells the truth as he sees it when asked a question.  Once the press found this out, they just kept setting him up to say some not so 'classy' things.  What they can't take away from him, is that he is a very good trainer and he knows his horses better than anyone.  If he thinks Big Brown can beat Curlin, then Curlin fans better watch out.  What I am wondering, is what would have happened in the Belmont if Big Browns jockey had not given up on him and kept urging him to run like he did in the Haskell?

08 Aug 2008 10:54 AM
Steve Haskin

Tiznowbaby, Dutrow has always talked this way, but he's never been in this bright a spotlight and he hasnt done it to this extent, because he wasnt as passionate about those horses as he is about Big Brown. He was passionate, but not quite like this.

Good point about great horses, RacingFan. I agree that most could run well on anything, but they obviously werent at their best on certain days or they would have been undefeated.

Monica, you may very well be right that Big Brown is not the same horse we saw in May. But neither was Seattle Slew and Affirmed after their Triple Crown campaigns. Both did, however, return to have great 4-year-old campaigns. The Triple Crown takes a lot out of a horse.

Jordan, this isn't intended to be a win or no-win situation. It's all about opinions. No one is going to win or lose. Just as long as the opinions, as I mentioned earlier, are delivered in a civil, intelligent manner.

Thanks, Katherine. Can you imagine the things Big Brown would have to say. I'd be happy if he just told us what was bothering him in the Belmont.

Katsan, who is "us" and who is "you?" Am I an "us" or a "you?" And I don't know what you mean about being an outsider. If I am an outsider then who are the insiders? do you mean trainers, owners, breeders, and racing officials? I thought I was referring to "you" guys when I said train wreck, not "us" guys. Also, you never mentioned what your solution is to prevent further damage to the sport. Stop infighting? Right now, I see only one major combatant -- Rick Dutrow. Those who respond to him with such venom also become combatants, right?

08 Aug 2008 11:06 AM
Steve Haskin

Atthebarn, do you actually think you're making sense? You dont say how I am biased or who I have attacked? And your comments are based on nothing at all. I get along with all trainers. And Dutrow not wishing to comment on a work other than one or two stock lines, I dont consider shutting me out. I did not call him after that because he didnt want to deal with the press and wasnt talking to anyone. In person, we speak freely. Dont make it sound as if I had some personal vendetta against him. You keep mentioning your fraternity. Why dont you identify yourself. If you are a trainer, who knows, maybe I've heard of you. And I'm sorry to hear that so many people who have responded on here have no insight to what really goes on. I'm sure they'd appreciate your comment. Come to think of it, better not let them know who you are.

08 Aug 2008 11:23 AM
s lee

Hi all -

nice discussion.  I like Steve's suggestion of the Clark.  NOT as a match race, since they seem to do everything except accurately test the 2 horses involved most of the time, but as a regular race over a surface they've both use as a launching pad.  Who knows?  Maybe Curlin and BB will run each other silly and somebody else will come along and pick up the pieces in the last furlong.  But anyway you look at it, what a nice way to end up the year!

Like so many others I was hoping BB would head to Saratoga for the Woodward.  I can see that final turn on a late summer afternoon now......the entire grounds on its feet......voices rising....ah well.  Not to be.

I agree with Mr. Jackson's doubts about Santa Anita.  To me this doesn't seem to be about dirt vs. turf vs. synthetic, rather it's about an UNTRIED surface.  And an untried surface that's replacing one that was a disaster.  

BB remains an enigma.  I did like what I saw in the last fraction of the Haskell.  For whatever reason it took him a long time to get in gear, but that gear is worth waiting for.  I rewatched the Florida Derby and the Preakness after the Haskell and to my novice eye it looks like he's not running "loose" anymore.  Either something hurts or something is off balance or maybe he's getting sour or maybe he and his jockey are out of sync, but he just doesn't look smooth.

Curlin working at Saratoga the other day, though, geez.  On his toes, eager, cooperative, and ready to fly.  Or, as Red Smith once wrote of Raise a Native when he was training at Saratoga "when he moved down the backstretch, the trees swayed......."  What a horse!

And isn't the bottom line that it's great that racing has these horses to talk about, plus the great stories like Evening Attire?

08 Aug 2008 11:41 AM

Definitely agree with RacingFan re "great horses".  To date, I cannot think of any horse which has shown near equal proficiency on dirt,turf and poly.  Perhaps, one will come along some day, but it will take a very special individual indeed.  I think that certain types of mechanics or running actions lend themselves to each type of surface and then there are so many variations of each type of surface.  It boggles the mind to think of what kind of horse it would take to master all three.

08 Aug 2008 11:50 AM

Thanks Steve for an insightful look at Big Brown's run in the Haskell. I figured once the race was analyzed by the experts, it would turn out to be a pretty durn good effort on Big Brown's part. No horse EVER seems to run away with anything in that race. It's always a wondeful test.  By the way, maybe if Rick Dutrow was capable of thoughtful type thinking, he could enlist Mr Nerud's help on how to handle a freak. He do know what to do with one.

08 Aug 2008 12:05 PM

Steve, I’d like to comment on two points: American horses avoiding races on certain tracks, i.e. synthetics, on Breeders Cup Day due to the fact that it may not be their best surface. Foreign horses routinely take up that challenge in the "Classic" and give their best effort even though it is obviously not their prefered surface. Certainly Curlins connections, to their credit, have been willing to venture into untested waters before in both Dubai and their quest for the Arc. Why then, on America's showcase day to the world, would they not even attempt to run on the synthetic at Santa Anita and defend the Classic title. Mr. Jackson has already shown himself to be a great sportsman by bringing Curlin back to run at four while his peers disappeared into the breeding shed. Curlin is the best America has to offer and should represent us on the world stage of the Breeders Cup not in Europe or Japan. His connections have always contended that he improves on his second try after adjusting to the conditions or surface such as Dubai when they gave him a prep and Monmouth where he returned after the Haskell to win the the Classic. In that case why not run in the Woodward and head west and give him a prep over the synthetic before dismissing the Breeders Cup out of hand? Certainly it is a gamble as these surfaces have shown inconsistencies from track to track but Mr. Jackson has taken bolder chances before. It may not prove to be the optimum conditions but we would have the countries best three year old and horse of the year going head to head on center stage where they belong.

No offense to Big Brown fans but IEAH and Dutrow really don't want that big red horse. If you think they do they know exactly where he will be - show up. It astounds me that Dutrow has the audacity to continue his diatribe against Curlin for not commiting to the Classic while avoiding a face to face meeting over the very surface that has made Big Brown’s reputation.

08 Aug 2008 12:11 PM

By the way, this is off subject, but I am curious. What is your next book on? When can I get it? I have really enjoyed all that I have read from you.

08 Aug 2008 12:11 PM
Pam S.

Steve, I feel just like you. I don't know what to think!  But a blog is for recording one's thoughts, so here goes:

It is only natural for fans to want to see Big Brown meet Curlin.  What else is racing about?  Didn't it all start in some previous century with one man asserting to another that his horse was faster?  So "trash talk" is as old as racing; it has evolved and is more pointed these days, especially as presented by Dutrow, but it is nothing new.

What has bothered me more than the trash talk is that back on Derby Day, after BB won and Eight Belles was fatally injured, all Dutrow and IEAH did was jump around and scream.  If any of them ever paid tribute to the fallen filly in any sound bite or quote in print, I never heard/read it.  Compare that to Ron McAnally's genuine grief in the BC winner's circle after Go for Wand broke down battling Bayakoa.  Quite a difference.  

But back to BB vs. Curlin, I thought the Woodward would be as close to an ideal matchup as could be, but BB's camp says no, he won't be ready.  JC Gold Cup would be about equally good, but BB's camp says no more races at Belmont, even though the track was never blamed for the horse's puzzling TC performance, at least not that I ever read.  No matter what race they would run in on BC Day, it wouldn't be totally satisfying because neither surface would be dirt, and they are dirt horses.  I agree they won't both show up at Santa Anita; possibly one but not both.  

That leaves us with the Clark, which would also be a great venue, but I wouldn't count on it.  The call of the breeding shed will be very strong by Thanksgiving, especially for BB, so I just don't see it happening.  

08 Aug 2008 12:38 PM

Steve, I've been following horse racing for 40+ years.  You are simply the best. I must say, it's hard for a good 3yr. old to beat a good 4 yr. old.  Affirmed couldn't beat Slew, and the Bid couldn't beat Affirmed.  Keep up the great work!!!

08 Aug 2008 12:49 PM


Yes - making sure you have the quote right is pretty much journalism 101 - and I must have been sleeping in class that day!

Now - to turn it back - no where did I say that Dutrow was all bad, nor did I compare him to Hitler, Stalin or Hussein.  

I know - you didn't quote me - but I just want to be clear - I have no doubt that Dutrow -  who obviously loves his horses - must have some good in him somewhere......but man - it's not anywhere near the part of his brain controling his mouth.

You know who he reminds me of a bit?  Pancho Martin - who became so obsessed with Sham's quality that he constantly (and fruitlessly) took pot shots at Secretariat.  Sham was always going to get Big Red next time.  Secretariat wasn't so great, etc.

Fortunately, people were always ready to separate Sham from the bluster - perhaps because he was such a gallant foe.  Sham, in defeat, became as beloved in his way as Secretariat did in his greatness.  

Maybe that was the difference - Big Brown never run against an equal quality horse and had his clock cleaned (the year isn't over yet, though) - and the Belmont probably looked more like some sort of racing gods' divine intervention against BB's connections than a poorly run race by the horse.

So let me state - and you can quote me - I don't wish a bolt of lightning, a large boulder or other acts of nature or man to smite Rick Dutrow.  And I have a sneaking suspicion he is not as "dumb about stuff" - and that is a quote - regarding media and PR as he feigns.  He probably is more agreable in person than when he is on stage for the press.

Final thoughts on the Curlin/Big Brown match up?  I think they should both run in the Classic.  As another reader alluded - it is what it is.  

Like it or not, or until research proves it a false hope for safety, synthetics are here to stay, and the old days of just dirt and turf are gone.  All connections to both horses should do the sporting thing and run on American racing's biggest day.  Even you, Steve, can't say what that Pro-ride track will play like - it could be porridge, it could favor closers, or it could be fast and fair.  We won't know until horses run - and like it or not - it's the venue for BC for the next two years.  So run on it and see where the chips fall.  There is no such thing as a perfect scenario.  

In spite of what the one blogger said - I stand by my vague, blanket statement "the great ones ran on anything(available in their era), never ducked and managed to win."

I'm out on this go-round - great blog, great comments back to all of the readers from you - and looking forward to reading the next installment - it's getting a bit like a soap opera!

Hey - maybe that's the fit for Dutrow - he's racing's JR Ewing!  :)

08 Aug 2008 12:50 PM


I like the idea of Curlin and Big Brown meeting in the Clark in your scenario (after the Classic).  But I feel it would be completely unthinkable for Big Brown's connections to agree to run their horse four weeks after what would likely have been the most challenging race of his life.  It seems he was only run in the Preakness and Belmont with the quick turnarounds because they were chasing the Triple Crown.  (Remember how Dutrow  Now they say that the Travers, three weeks after the Haskell, and the Woodward, four weeks out, are too soon.  I think the only way, assuming he stays sound enough, would be if he skipped the Breeders' Cup altogether.  But, question marks aside, I really do wish they would both go to the Classic at least.

08 Aug 2008 12:57 PM

Wait a second!!!!! Curlin is SUPPOSED to be able to beat BB. He's a 4 year old. How good BB would be at 4 will never be known. BB is a better 3 year old at this point now than Curlin was at this time last year. Period! Their meeting now would be fun but really wouldn't mean much of anything.

08 Aug 2008 12:58 PM
Dawn from Chicago

Steve, So Great to hear your thoughts, you have facts, times and personal experience at the tracks. I think I agree with everything you have said, except I believe you are one of the few people who know your true feelings. Thanks for your brilliant writing, it's not just opinions, it's actual figures & reality.

I do live in Chicago and if you want to hear tons of trash talk, just listen to a Cub fan talk to a Sox fan. This is real good fun! It keeps everyone stimulated and up on their facts. It's all in good fun and does take on a life of it's own sometimes.

Drama & true to life dynamics, that's what all lasting soap operas have in common. Good guy vs bad guy, then bad guy turned good, and so on.

I personally love Big Brown's connections, all of them, good & bad, they bring out information you would not normally hear. They have guts & instinct. I think Dutrow is basically a pretty honest guy who does care about & love his horses. After the Belmont the first one he was able to talk to was his horse. Big Brown loves Dutrow and dito. I'm glad they all hooked up, so much will be learned by each of them and all of us because ot their strengths, weaknesses & differences!

Yes, I too love both Curlin & Big Brown, but since Curlin will be running many more races than Big Brown, I want to see BB win a good race against him.

08 Aug 2008 1:06 PM
Steve Haskin

Mg, I understand the point you're making regarding the European horses. But two things I must point out. First, whether Europeans race on grass or try the dirt, they are racing on a natural surface, and can train on the dirt whenever they like, and in race-simulated works, to see if they handle it. A lot of our horses have no access to a synthetic track until they arrive at the track they're racing at. Second, Europeans trying the dirt for the first time are not doing so with a championship on the line. They have already secured their awards in Europe and are simply looking for new worlds to conquer and a unique place in history. If racing on dirt determined whether they would be voted champion in their own country, I doubt you'd see many experiment over it. They just don't have as much on the line as would a horse like Curlin. Most horses who dislike synthetic really dislike it and often finish up the track. That uncertainty is what is preventing Jackson from taking such a major gamble.

Thanks, David. I don't have a next book. My most recent book is Tales From the Triple Crown and can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from Bloodhorse.com (Exclusively Equine). As of now, that will be my final book. After six of them I am retiring from book writing.

Thank you, Dap, and you make a great point, one I am always preaching. If Curlin and Big Brown were to face each other, the older Curlin would have the advantage. 3-year-olds generally only defeat older horses when they are far superior to them. At equal ability, the older horse usually comes out on top. Remember, I said usually.

Come on Cgriff, enough of misquoting me, even by inference. I was the one who mentioned those three people, and did so tongue in cheek. I'm happy to respond to your comments, but I don't want to have to keep defending things I didnt say. You make good points after that and I respect all your opinions. That's what we're here for, right?

08 Aug 2008 1:19 PM

I do not share the feeling that Big Brown should compete against Curlin. I am not impressed by the performance BB gave in The Haskell. That is the most I have ever seen Kent have to whip and push BB. I half expected to see Kent jump off BB and carry him across the finish line. Thank goodness Coal Play ran out of steam. If he had been able to just hold his speed you would be talking about him instead of BB.

08 Aug 2008 1:20 PM

Egad - I did it again!  I think the only safe way to blog gaffe free is to first - go back and re-read what I've read and see if I'm jumping to conclusions that aren't there - and, if I do quote you on a topic - I'm going to cut and paste them into the space so there's no way to misinterpret or otherwise!

You know what's crazy?  My husband accuses me of basically the same flaw!  You don't think this means he could possibly be right, do you?  :)

08 Aug 2008 1:31 PM

First,why is everyone talking about Rick? He says things he believes,and ya know what you can't change what he thinks by saying he is annoying etc.Who cares what he says,frankly his comments make me laugh! When I first read about what he said regarding Curlin and Big Brown I just had a good laugh! You should not hold Rick against Big Brown.It's not good for racing and shows how unforgiveing some people in here are.But you can't change a person so just stop commenting about him and focus on these wonderful horses we have and are able to enjoy. I wish and hope with all my heart we can see Big Brown and Curlin race on a fair playing field.Maybe one day.

08 Aug 2008 1:52 PM

I've come to a nostalgia for the old days, when a championship or legacy didn't rest on one performance BC Day.  I've read about and actually have some memories of the days when champions were campaigned, and except for injury, fans could anticipate seeing the great ones on certain dates.  I know those days are gone, but as we debate one race for Curlin-BB, doesn't that reflect the sad reality of the racing scene in Maryland, or Santa Anita on the sale block to who knows what interests, or Gulfstream foolishly sacrificed to an underperforming casino and ill planned upscale mall?  And maybe when mature horses raced more often, we had healthier horses.  If this sport-and I see it as a sport over an industry-is to survive, it must be about fans pinning all hopes of seeing two outstanding horses not just one day, and in one race.

08 Aug 2008 2:07 PM

Steve, I beg to disagree with a couple of your assessments on the Europeans. Granted they are racing on a natural surface, however their access to dirt track is quite limited and race-simulated works are hardly a barometer of their ability to stack up against the best America has to offer on their own surface. In additon, I don't understand your quote that "a lot of our horses have no access to a synthetic track until they arrive at the track they are racing at." My heavens synthetic tracks are certainly a heck of a lot more prevelent here than in Europe and can't be more than a van ride from any stable base in the U.S. Certainly in the case of Curlin he was based at Keenland for a period where he worked over that surface weekly I'm sure you can't make the same claim for Henry the Navigator. Secondly, I realize the Euro's are not competing with a Championship on the line but they are willing to risk their reputation as one of the world's best and future value in the breeding shed. Unless that is the main concern in this case let's show the same amount of courage and conviction. The showcase day in American racing desreves no less, no excuses for not trying. I saw Kelso make multiple attempts to win the D.C. International on grass, a surface many critics said he could not handle but he ran gallantly in every try, finaly he not only won it but set the record at the same time. The Great Ones always tried whether it was their optimum surface or distance. Should we expect less from our owners and thoroughbreds of today?

08 Aug 2008 2:47 PM


Stop wondering. If Big Brown wasn't pulled up he would have lost by 15+ lengths.By pulling him up his connections could claim any number of excuses instead of saying it wasn't his day and he got beat.

08 Aug 2008 2:54 PM
Steve Haskin

mg, I understand what you're saying. The French have the All Along dirt track, where horses like Arcangues had serious works in race-simulated conditions. When I say a lot of horses here dont have access to synthetic tracks, where are the New York-based horses going to go to train over synthetic? If youre at Churchill, why train over Keeneland's Polytrack, which is nothing at all like the tracks they have in California. I agree that the Euros have more of a sense of adventure than our horses do, but remember, Coolmore sends their top stallions here for the Classic to try to increase their value more than anything. If they fail, they still have a grass sire for Europe, but they want more. Giants Causeway boosted his value by running so big in the Classic and as a result was booked to top-class dirt mares and became a great sire. Yes, it's about reputation, but more about how that reputation can equate to gigantic stud fees. They know if they keep their top horses home they will not be in demand as sires in the U.S. Again, I said I'd like to see Curlin go for the Classic, but can understand why they wouldnt want to.

Cgriff, you're husband couldnt possibly be right. We both know husbands are never right :)

08 Aug 2008 3:05 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, I think it would be a perfect solution to racing schedules and goals for the horses if they met in the Clark. That way both owners could keep on with their own strategy for their horses. Curlin is strong on dirt, he only raced once on turf and it wasn't bad for a first effort, but they don't seem to want to race him on synthetic. He has his record to take with him to stud.

Paul Pompa said they wanted to run BB on turf next. It would be a nod to his ancestor on both sides to run him at Woodbine in the Northern Dancer Turf. I think the longer distance would suit him well. He never looks like he wants to stop (not counting Belmont, which I don't) after he crosses the finish line. Then if they want to meet at the BC, they can. If not, there's the Clark.

08 Aug 2008 3:30 PM

Steve, Because of the age factor I can't seeing BB beat Curlin. Having said that, I think BB is more talented and if he ran as a 4 year old, we'd be saying he's the best horse since the Bid. I'm a big Curlin fan, but I just can't get over the fact of BB winning the Derby from Post 20.  That has to go down as one of the greatest feats in horse racing.  I don't think Curlin could have done it, and I don't think we'll ever see it done again.  One exception to the age difference was the great Secretariat at 3 beat Riva Ridge and Man O'War beat Sir Barton who was older and on the same level. I wonder in the match up of KD winners how many times the younger horse has prevailed. You're right about not rooting for Curlin or BB but wanting to see a good race.  My favorite race is Affirmed Vs The Bid in the JC.  I really didn't care who won, but what a race.  The Bid and Shoe came after Affirmed and Pincay three times.

08 Aug 2008 3:50 PM



08 Aug 2008 4:48 PM
Steve Haskin

DAP, those are not exceptions. I said 3-year-olds and older horses of equal ability. Secretariat and Riva Ridge were not of equal ability. Neither were Man o'War and Sir Barton. Sir Barton and Riva Ridge were very good horses, but not on the same level as the two Big Reds.

08 Aug 2008 4:49 PM

Wow, Steve, I don't believe I have ever seen so many blog attacks on you before. You don't deserve it. I don't find that you are defending Dutrow in any way. I think basically you understand human nature. You understand how Durtrow works and accept that as his personality. Curlins trainer isn't exactly mother Theresa.I also agree with you regarding BB's Haskell. I just watched the replay again. He looks like its game over and then he digs down and finds himself. BB is a force to be reckoned with. When he wants to turn it on, he can and he does.

I just don't understand all these bloggers who claim the great horeses can run on any surface. That statement is so broad and doesn't make sense to me. Who are the great horses they are talking about? Certainly not the horses of the past because they were never tested on synthetic. There have also been some "great" horses that have lost races because of a sloppy track. No, not all horses handle all surfaces.

08 Aug 2008 5:13 PM

Steve, you're right.  I was looking at it as one triple crown race winner against another in different years(I know Man O' War didn't win the KD) instead of ability.  I look forward to reading your columns.  Keep up the great work!

08 Aug 2008 5:18 PM

Big Brown comes back off the Triple Crown series and runs a 107 Beyer in the Haskell.  Amazing ! Anyone who thinks it wasn't a great performance tell me this.  How many horses have run all three Triple Crown Races and came back to win their first race posting a 107 Beyer or better ???


08 Aug 2008 5:22 PM
Steve Haskin

Karen, don't worry about the attacks. Some people are blinded by hatred and read what they want to read. I dont care if anyone disagrees with me, thats what makes for stimulating debate, but it has to be done properly without getting personal or hostile or those people will not be heard on here. A few comments were already deleted because of improper language.

08 Aug 2008 7:13 PM

Hmmm  Tell me this. When was the last time a Grade 1 field looked more like a secound level allowance.Untill any horse in that field goes on to prove anything he basically beat nothing. Beyer numbers tell me very little about the race.Time only matters to the Swiss and inmates.

08 Aug 2008 7:27 PM


Loved your lastest blog.  I couldn't read all the comments but I will add mine.  First I wasn't a fan of Dutrow, I could take him or leave him, but I got the chance to meet him for a second on the day before the Haskell, he was pleasant and charming as he signed autographs and took good wishes from fans. I shook his hand and told him I thought he had done a great job with the colt and I wished him good luck for the race. I don't believe I was pulling his chain since I do think his training of the colt has been right on.  Secondly, I have witnessed the last ten Haskells including Point Givens.  Yes they were very similar, but I think the difference in many peoples'minds is that Point Given was coming off a great victory in the Belmont and deserved to be a bit worn out, whereas BB didn't seem to run a lick in the Belmont. I felt this way at first,but after reviewing the race and running it thru my mind again, I did see a horse that dug deep and was brave in victory. Coal Play was tough but BB was tougher.

I feel too many people are getting involved with disliking BB's connections and not giving the horse the credit he deserves.  (Besides, maybe his connections aren't so bad with all they seem to be doing this last year. And Rick is a great horseman who happens to be a character. Maybe racing needs a few more of those to make it interesting to potenial racing fans).


Steve, thanks for this great blog, I look for a new one everyday.

08 Aug 2008 7:51 PM

Excellent post, Norma Jean.

Steve Haskin 08 Aug 2008 10:26 AM

This following is the post you said was excellent.

But there are trainers out there that these fans know and admire, that have many many more drug violations, suspensions, kill buyers hanging around their barns, and are as rude as Dutrow can be, it's just not printed, or people just ignore it. I just don't get it. And I'm supposed to figure out how to better market a sport with fans spewing this drivel.....in public forum?

normajean81258 07 Aug 2008 9:38 PM

This person is talking like she knows for a fact and knows this from first hand experience. Then says SHE is marketing the sport? Saying this after she made similar comments on another blog then, when called out said she has no connection to horse racing?? I think I, my trainer friend, another trainer on here and some of the handicappers took this as being a slam on the trainers ON THIS BOARD, based on what she said before. and at the very least some of our friends in the industry.

You did not defend or commend one person who came on and tried to present an opposing view and did so without the smart mouthed way Rick does. If you were truly neutral you would have said at the least that we might have a point.

That quote and my explanation of the posters previous comments saying she was just commenting like Paula was as well with no connection to racing at all, was why I said you commended someone who self admittedly was on the outside looking in.

"I didn't call Dutrow for several weeks leading up to the Haskell because he acted like a jerk when I called him and he refused to comment on one of Big Brown's works.

Steve Haskin 07 Aug 2008 7:21 PM "

Perhaps you might care to peruse my post: Atthebarn2 07 Aug 2008 8:46 PM, where I supported you, tried to give my opinion on the horses and even a bit of an explanation about why emotions

run so high on this subject.

Yes Steve, I believe despite your unkind remark, I do make sense. Yes, I am a trainer, I've stated it on here before. I also breed,

rescue and raise race horses. No I

don't care to say who I am, I'm not being interviewed  and believe that's a form of advertisement that's inappropriate. Yes we may have met. I always thought you were a friend to racing and usually got along well with trainers. I'm no spring chicken and maybe I have no business being on this board. But as I said before, I thought it was fun to post even though I've been called a silly old fool by my better half for doing it. A lot of people on Jason's blogs said they were wishing I'd come back on. I can tell some pretty good stories and yes I may be opinionated but always try to be kind and gentle with the other readers. I've gotten quite a few compliments for my posts and for my responses to people even if I may be'correcting or informing' them so to speak, I try to do it with respect.Well with one exception and when I decided I didn't like the tenor of the board or a particular person on it, and I was finding trouble responding civilly I left the board, foolishly returning at the behest of others. Initially I got a trainer friend of mine to come on Jason's blog to explain the technical side of lead changes, lugging out etc when someone asked about it. He was flummoxed, swore not to blog again, but even he had something to say about the people who were siding with Rick in this whole debacle. That being said, I may occasionally get sarcastic if I feel attacked. Which I did when a couple of blanket statements were made about the "attacks" on Rick and the character of trainers by posters that you commended. You know even though I don't make sense, I at least read your blog, read the comments of every single person on her and I learned another lesson at 70 something. Don't go where you aren't wanted, don't ever try to give a firsthand account or inside opinion to people who only want to hear themselves speak and be careful about who you think you like and trust.   LESSON LEARNED

08 Aug 2008 8:08 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Not to be disrespectful sir, but I personally felt the majority of people who defended Rick Dutrow were far more unkind to the other posters than a few who tried to explain why he does what he does, and they didn't attack their fellow posters eithr. Two or three in particular, two of which you called out. One of them was a trainer that a bunch of us kept calling out to come on with his stories and stuff. He was pretty funny and had a lot of cool stuff to talk about, like you usually do. He was someone that my buddies met when they went to Saratoga, I stayed home in Cali with a broken ankle/leg. They said he is a pretty old guy and while not as famous as Lukas, who my friends Aunt knows very well, he is still a very nice man and knows his stuff. He even defended one of my buddies on another post and the person he defended him to thanked the trainer guy for being so nice. I have been reading for a long time and I only ever saw him or some of the others get mad a couple times and that was when they felt like their livelihoods were being made to look bad. I just saw what the NY guy said about racing. As for me I'm a handicapper, diehard fan who is a laid back Cali guy. I don't think it's good for racing for this bickering that is going on to continue, whether it's here, the DRF, TV etc. Even some of the big name trainers are making comments now. I think it's kind of sad. I think racing has some rules about actions detrimental to racing, I'm not really sure but if they do they should fine RD, if not they should put some rules in place.

08 Aug 2008 9:10 PM
R. Oliver

I think that Zenyatta is well on her way to becoming horse of the year. She's the real deal. I hope she continues to run the way she does, knocking off her competitors, one by one. Never mind BB and Curlin.

08 Aug 2008 9:22 PM
Paula Higgins

Whatamidoing-I do understand what you are saying. No, I wouldn't want to have negative comments said about me in public either if I was a fellow trainer. I am sorry for the fact that Rick Dutrow has caused so much unhappiness within the horse racing community. I am just one of the viewing public who loves racing and horses. Clearly he has caused alot of anger. I wish it were different believe me because he is the one who loses in this. He loses your respect and friendship. I truly think Rick doesn't get it. he says he doesn't care what people think of him but I bet he does and would rather have you for a friend than not. Yes, he had another positive drug test with one of his horses. But I was really referring to HIM getting off drugs, being productive and taking care of his daughter. I think those are good things. Let's have a truce everyone. I don't work in the horse racing world and I can't speak for you all, and what you have had to deal with, but I do appreciate a kind word for him here and there.

08 Aug 2008 9:51 PM

As always, beautiful piece of writing Mr. Haskin and I agree with you wholeheartedly.  Keep up the great work!

08 Aug 2008 9:54 PM

I think both horses are extremely talented and love it when either one of them runs. Would love it if they run against each other to decide "Horse of the Year".

08 Aug 2008 10:38 PM

Whatamidoing~~~~ Once again where did I ever say I was "involved" in racing. Personally, everyone here is involved if the are just fans with a voice. And everyone here is involved in one way or another, whether it's the love of the sport, or owning, breeding ot training. I merely have opinions and yes some I base on fact. You have to remember that even us lowely fans know people. And I wasn;t aware that you HAD to be an Owner, breeder or trainer to express yourself. Anytime you'd like to chat, please email me. I'm always willing to learn more about this sport ~ normafullmer and I'm at Yahoo

08 Aug 2008 10:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Atthebarn, I say this in all honesty, and with no disrespect, but I have no idea what you just said, nor do I know what point you're trying to make. If I was unkind to you, please point it out. In fact, there has been too much unkindness tossed around on here, in both directions, and for a subject that is not worth it and not even what I was writing about. It was one or two graphs out of a 2,000-word blog and it did not defend nor castigate Rick Dutrow; it only pointed out how he thinks in my opinion. So before this all gets way out of hand, if it hasnt already, I am going to move on to other things. Please feel free to continue your comments amongst yourselves if you wish.

08 Aug 2008 10:58 PM


Thank you for your kind comments. I think things have gotten out of control in a lot of places about this. As you said we have very strong feelings about it. I for one was someone who similar in age to Rick just kind of kept shaking my head, shrugging my shoulders and scuffing my toe in the dirt. When I came on here it was just to explain as someone asked, as a favor to a friend who has since had his intelligence questioned. What a sad situation. Mr. Haskin said my friend didn't make any sense. Well he assumed the posts had been read and without calling out specific people her made veiled references  This is the nicest man you'd ever want to meet. A guy who will give you the shirt off his back and always looks for the good in people. He was another who just shook his head, after a number of flubs by Rick, would read or hear something and under his breath say stuff like dang fool. Then it came to us asking why someone with the world on a string would keep doing this stuff. I'm still baffled. To have a colt like that, to have a barn full like he has then to just keep trying to throw it all away, why? His owners are only going to put up with so much and you know it's too bad. I know my wife worries about his little girl, Rick said on TV his uncertainties of being able to care for her, thank goodness for Michelle. Rick's a funloving guy, who's pretty funny, goofy charm. Yes he's got a lot of insecurities, we all do, but it doesn't help his demons to keep alienating people. I was watching a movie, we got rained out today,  the character reminded me of Rick. Had some amazing skills, was loveable but kept doing and saying stuff that left everyone shaking their head, difference was, it wasn't hurting peoples feelings and putting them down. "And that's all I have to say about that"

08 Aug 2008 10:59 PM

Atthebarn2 ~ Sorry to confuse you too. But you know, I'm sitting here thinking that you guys feel that we don't have any opinions of value simply because we are not "INVOLVED" in racing and are, I think you put it "on the outside, looking in." Is that how you characterize us fans? And exactly HOW "involved" do we have to be to be of value in your eyes? Yes, I am involved in a short term Marketing project, I won't say with which organization as I'm not on trial here. I was asked because they felt my insights into the sport WERE valuable. I admire you and all of your posts taught me. And for that, Thank you.  

08 Aug 2008 11:01 PM

Here's a comment I posted on July 16th prior to The Haskell ........

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.

Here's my post Haskell comment I posted  Aug. 4th ...........

Yes, BB did win The Haskell.  Did anyone notice the " strain / anguished " look on BB's face as Desormeux pushed him to the finish line ? He is NOT the same horse that ran in theTriple Crown. He looked so washed out as he came past Coal Play , as if any energy he had , was gone.  I just can't see him running against the competition that will be in The Breeder's Cup , based on his performance in The Haskell.

Here's a comment from present article above   " Mixed Feelings  "  ......

For those remaining, instead of rambling on, let’s turn our attention to the Haskell. While up in Saratoga, the vast consensus of opinion among the media and horsemen was that Big Brown’s performance was unimpressive -- he was drifting out, he was under pressure early, he did little running until the last 70 yards, he was facing a mediocre field, and was in danger of losing to an allowance horse.

It appears my pre & post comments on The Haskell were pretty much in line with the opinion of the media and horsemen Steve told us about.

08 Aug 2008 11:14 PM

Steve, I think you are being incredibly disrespectful to a very nice elderly gentleman trainer. I don't know what you didn't understand about his post. He was responding to your comment that he didn't make sense and asking what he was talking about. He posted the comments you asked about that offended him and obviously some otheres.If you read, re-read what he pointed out you'd see he was never disrespectful to you until he felt you were supporting a poster who,yes slammed trainers in general then presented it as though she was a marketer for horse racing, when she said earlier she had no connection to racing. If you are going to call someone out I don't think this is the one to do it to. He's a nice guy, it's beneath you to try and present him as unintelligent. I got to meet him at Saratoga and he is extremely intelligent and his previous posts on here prove that. I've always enjoyed your articles and am baffled why you are calling out these different people, it seems out of character from the opinion I have of you in the past. Gosh.

08 Aug 2008 11:48 PM

Norma Jean,

Here's your comment: "there are trainers out there that these fans know and admire, that have many many more drug violations, suspensions, kill buyers hanging around their barns, and are as rude as Dutrow can be, it's just not printed, or people just ignore it. I just don't get it. And I'm supposed to figure out how to better market a sport with fans spewing this drivel.....in public forum? " normajean81258 07 Aug 2008 9:38 PM  

If someone just wandered on this board, you don't think they would believe you were on the inside of racing, maybe even a PR person for a race track? With this emphatic statement? You didn't say I heard this, or if I'm trying to convince my friends to like racing. No you made an emphatic statement that you know this for a fact and it makes your job that much harder because people are posting drivel. I love our fans, I know we need them. What we don't need are people who act like fans and then post this "drivel".

09 Aug 2008 12:08 AM
silent fan

Steve, I have read your articles, books and now blogs, since your days at DRF, Derby Watch,love it. I especially loved your book on Dr. Fager, Women in Racing The Iron Lady is my favorite all time filly (Lady's Secret). Love ALL of your stories on the horses of older days. If I needed proof that the Dutrow, Big Brown, Curlin issue is damaging horse racing, this bunch of comments were my proof. I've been reading but never felt compelled to write. Steve, being one of your biggest fans I have to say I don't remember ever seeing you take on people, or in this case a specific person in all of the time I've been reading your writings or if so I chose to ignore. I'm not really familiar with the proprieties or correct way to write on the responses but even I understood what the Atthebarn2 was trying to say. Is this some kind of inside battle or something I don't understand that is going on between you and this person? Maybe I haven't been reading as closely as I thought, I'm just stunned right now.

09 Aug 2008 12:40 AM

Hello Mr. Haskin, Love  your blogs,

Someone mentioned BB's mouth or throat or tongue could be hurting. Didn't Rick Dutrow do a equipment change before the Belmont? I heard he did, I heard  on one of the sports sites,If he did , maybe the equipment change was a bad idea.As far as BB and Curlin and this so called meet up in a race,why are so many people so peeved off? If they meet great if not, OK to.Just like what was said, both horses have their own strengths.And as far as Rick Dutrow's comments,he said similar things when he had Saint Liam,One comment was Don't think anyone is as good as Saint Liam,look at the  articles written when he had him.The Haskell was great in my eyes,why does he have to blow away everyone anyhow?When BB was demolishing everyone,people said Oh! he didn't have to work for it,Lets see what he does when he has to work for it,then when he does work for it he gets criticized,Give the horse a darn break!!Dutrows comments don't bother me at all,he likes his horse, thinks he is best,just has a less than steller way of saying it ,I honestly don't think he means harm to anyone. That's just the way he is. As far as his training abilities,I think he's good,(Benny the Bull,diamond stripes,Saint liam,etc)Just because he says out loud what other tainers probably want to say, but don't because they want to portray some kind of fake image,and Mr Dutrow could care less about one doesn't make him less human, Lets face it, if it was Zito,Frankel,Tagg etc, saying these things,people would be saying the same things about them.Why do you think so many owners give him their horses to train, Do you think they really care what he says? You know if Curlin wouldn't have won the breeders cup , I bet People would have been calling some other horse the best.We all want horseracing to be widely acknowledged,then we(some people) trash it (horses)just because of what a trainer or sportscaster or fan  says or doesn't say I like Curlin and I like BB,There is room for more than one good horse in the world ya know.We should just be happy for what horses we do have to root for.I personlly liked Hard Spun last year,and I like BB this year,I'm not going to wish him or Curlin bad luck,I'm going to enjoy all the horses,and all the debating that goes with it.

09 Aug 2008 12:49 AM

Wouldn't it be cool if all the stars aligned and Curlin and Brown met in the Woodward, the JC Gold Cup and the Classi? That would be incredible. I truly, truly dislike the Breeders Cup deciding championships. It too often negates the other 10 months.

09 Aug 2008 1:21 AM
Steve Haskin

I will conclude my comments to respond to BigHorseFan. First off, whoever Atthebarn is, regardless of his age or how nice he is, which I have no way of knowing, not understanding the point he is trying to make does not mean I called him unintelligent. Again, I am having words put in my mouth. Second, his initial post read as follows: "I've figured out that you have only a biased viewpoint. Sad you feel the need to attack what provides you with a livelihood and support people who may never read another article on here again." -- biased? attack? I am not biased nor did I attack anyone. If he is going to spew out accusatory and inflammatory comments like that don't expect me to sit here and ignore them. Nor will I ignore holier than thou comments such as: "My guess is if any of the rest of our fraternity are reading this you may get the cold shoulder from a lot of us. The people you commend for their excellent posts have no insight into what really goes on." He may be a nice man as you say, but these words in my opinion do not reflect that. They are demeaning to me and many of the posters who express their opinion, and they deserve to be rebuked. I have no more comments to make on the subject.

09 Aug 2008 9:49 AM

Steve, Thanks for your response. I'm not quite sure what is going on with you and Atthebarn, however I think a number of people got his point, HE Did not like you commending NORMA JEAN who consistently puts trainers OTHER than Rick Dutrow into a bad light. She absolutely does act like she is closely involved in racing and is 'in the know' so to speak. But when asked always says no and can't understand (?) where anyone got that idea (a bunch of people have noticed it) You probably aren't aware of her other posts on other blogs on here but most of us are and that is what we are all talking about. Personally I think you kind of got blindsided by that and when you said it was an excellent post you probably didn't realize what she had been saying and how it was taken on some other posts. You said Atthebarn didn't make sense, said you couldn't understand his posts, a lot of people would take that they sound stupid. What really amazed me is how he was so complimentary of you. Then when you commended Norma Jean who attacked (that's the way I saw it) trainers (in general) it insulted him. I can't speak for him I met him on the board originally and then for a brief amount of time at Saratoga. There were a lot of comments by racetrackers not only on here but at the track about the 'outside' world says and how they perceive racetrackers. I think the furthest thing from any of our minds is to argue. But I think if I was at my job and someone was causing trouble for me and the mailman went around untruthfully telling his entire delivery route or wrote into the newspaper that Rob cheats his clients, he uses defective lumber etc but then said however Joe a former employee that stole from their company and then badmouthed Rob, is really the good guy that would make me mad too. Perhaps not the best analogy but that is the way I took it. With the mailman being Norma, Rob=Atthebarn and Joe=Rick. NO matter how much we think we connect with these people at the track, they still have their closed society which was worse in the old days but they still talk about it now. Sorry to go on but I want to explain things, hopefully, get things between everyone back on better footing. Thanks for putting up with my rambling on. If you don't want to post this I'll understand but I'm a peacemaker usually and think like Silent Fan said, this blog is proof of the division that is occuring in racing. Hope to read you in future, especially your horse articles. Have a couple of your books I ordered through EE on BH.  Thanks

09 Aug 2008 10:34 AM

Hey Steve, even if you've left the building (blog). There's always been battles between different trainers and writers, especially on volatile subjects. A lot of these guys feel it's us (trainers) against the world. Who knows how things people hear affects them, or what the subject may have done to them personally?  Happens in all kinds of sports, man look at MLB right now and what they say to reporters. I remember Lukas, Baffet etc all sparring with writers. Difference is the electronic age, these blogs just open stuff up more. Most won't come on one, Larry Jones' Q&A with Jason he pulled no punches with  about his feelings re RD. Some want to speak but don't feel like they can reveal themselves for whatever reason, that's what blogs are for. I've been a blogger, moderator etc for a long time the comments on here are mild compared to some of them I've seen and it doesn't pay to get too upset with posters when you are the blogger/moderator. Although I've been guilty of it myself it just causes less hair, more gray and ulcers. As my friends and I say, just be cool and keep on keepin on.

09 Aug 2008 11:05 AM
Steve Haskin

Silent Fan and Bradgm, thank you for sharing your views. I am not a confrontational person by any means, and if my most recent blog, which I considered quite innocuous and non-controversial, caused so much hostility on both ends, especially by merely commenting I enjoyed someone's post (you're right, BigFan, I do not know this person and only skimmed through her post -- what I read made sense to me, maybe on second reading it wouldn't). then perhaps it is time for me to re-evaluate things. Because you two expressed yourself in a constructive, rational manner, I will take it as a wake-up call that blog writing, at least in this form, is not for me. I deeply appreciate all the comments I receive from people regarding my writing and do not wish to jeopardize that by getting involved in any hostilities. My latest blog certainly didn't seem like a vehicle for that; it was centered around Big Brown facing Curlin in the Clark Handicap, but most of the responses were about the two Dutrow graphs and what a horrible person he is. I hate to think what would happen if I did write something controversial. So, with that in mind, I apologize to anyone who might have taken offense to any of my comments (I still feel Atthebarn could have disagreed with me without getting personal and degrading. If he has a problem with "outsiders" I obviously was unaware of it and it is no concern of mine). If writing blogs and responding to comments are going to bring out an antogaonistic side of me that I don't like, I surely wouldn't want that to happen. I have enjoyed writing about the old horses and great races and perhaps giving them a fresh new perspective. I will try to continue them on occasion. Thanks again for all your kind comments and participation.

09 Aug 2008 11:52 AM

Steve. First let me say that I apologize. I let my personal feelings get the best of me on this subject which is very sensitive to a lot in the industry and sarcasm by me prevailed. In my original post I explained the difficulty in separating Rick from his colt. I also agreed with most of what you said and complimented you on your writing which I have read for years, when you were just a young whipersnapper on DRF, I even told folks on Jason's blog to read your stuff about the great horses of yore . Feeling like you are a member of the racing community perhaps I felt disappointment for what I saw on here. I didn't mean to sound arrogant, I'm the last person in the world who would ever do that intentionally. I've worked my backside off in the horse industry for eons and I just don't want to see it hurt any more. Just as you said blogs aren't for you I don't think they are for me either. Normally I'm a quiet man and seem to take on a different personality on here as you said you do. Maybe I've just always wanted to speak my mind but never really have. You get to speak through your books, articles etc, a lot of us don't have that voice.

The young fellas I met told me that it can get really mean between posters and the moderators usually edit and control that. The blogger may comment once in a while but like Jason, don't usually get too involved on the board. But there again they all are of a similar age and know this stuff. They also told me when talking about the TC Chat that this is mild when compared and showed me another site, holy cow. The language and the stuff they said on there, guess it makes this sound like comments about Cinderella. Once again sorry to offend you and I guess we may just agree to diaagree on some subjects and agree to agree on others.

09 Aug 2008 12:55 PM

I just don't understand what all the fuss is. I am a huge racing fan who blogs to share ideas, information and hopfully learn something. Nothing, absolutely nothing I have written hasn't been quoted in print in well respected mags, books etc. The only difference is I didn't name the names of the people being quoted or talked about. If you search on Bloodhorse, by trainer name, then read the articles pertaining to said trainer, you will see the drug violations and anything else you want to know. This IS a problem in the sport, just ask Congress: and if anyone takes offence, I apologize. But it is a matter of public record. And I never started the post about the trainers, I was merely responding to others comments. If you re-read my posts here, you will see my very small "connection" and "involvement" in racing. People are reading much more into my posts than what is written. It all comes down to what your definition of "involvement" and "connection" is... Again, my email is there. I like talking to others. I am a kind person, wouldn't hurt a fly. Never did I expect to be so misunderstood on this blog. You can also find me on Myspace, I don't hide behind a fake name, so I'm easy to find.....

09 Aug 2008 1:59 PM

Steve, Dude, whatever you do don't stop writing. Just don't get wrapped up in it. Don't take it personal, the posters writing sometimes are taking it personal because it may really be something that is a big part of their life and they're reacting to it very emotionally.As a blogger you just have to keep in mind that it's an article to you, you have feelings about it but probably aren't as emotional involved as the posters, who if they are not just drive by posters, only post on boards they feel strongly about. I was one of the guys who met Atthe,thankfully we left before the 'storm' and you know he's like a lot of older guys. He commented a lot of times on these blogs about non racing people that he thinks judge racetrackers and I think it hurts his feelings more than anything, my take when meeting him. I just think you are both good guys who got caught up in a volatile, emotional subject. Like we explained to him other boards are wicked and mean. A good board just let's the posters slug it out, edit the really bad stuff, a moderator/blogger will step in if they think it gets too bad or if they want to make a comment, sometimes they WILL defend the board or their blog. Don't stop writing, some things that are said are controversial by nature no matter how it's presented. Problem with Blogs is trying to read all the comments. They get pretty overwhelming at times and if we skim them we might miss something that is very telling. Kinda like this novel I just wrote. Now that you know the ins and outs that you probably didn't want to know to begin with . Just keep doing your thing, hey you're an award winner in my book and I know you love racing.Take this as a compliment,  you were writing way before I was born, doing a great job and keeping it real.

09 Aug 2008 2:00 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Atthebarn, I appreciate it. The funny thing is that I'm not even sure we disagree. Not knowing your feelings about certain posters and their ideas, I meant no disrespect saying you werent making sense. I meant to say that you werent making sense to me, not knowing where you were coming from. You obviously made sense to others on here, judging by their responses. When I said excellent post to Norma Jean, I was referring to these lines from her opening graph: "Amen Steve, I would root for a good race as well.  I think BB should run his Philly Derby, (I'll be there again.)Curlin his Woodward, then on to the BC. Then, retire BB because I think his feet will warrant it, and Curlin? I think he should hang around a while." With so many responses to read and not a lot of time to read them as carefully as I should, I basically skim over a lot of them and apparently miss a lot. I will make sure to read them more carefully in the future. When they asked me to write a blog, I wasn't prepared for such extensive interraction. I can see where, as a trainer, you might take offense to the later comments in Norma Jean's response. But as I said, I dont know her or you and was not prepared for the backlash that ensued. It's not always easy getting one's point across in a venue like this and comments often are misinterpreted. The bottom line is that we all learn something every day. Consider the matter closed and keep your opinions coming. They are always welcome.

09 Aug 2008 2:03 PM
Paula Higgins

I would like to thank everyone for making their points. It's been really  a lively discussion with lots of passion. I have learned alot and need to learn infinitely more. For those of you in the business, I really have enjoyed reading your posts and I appreciate and respect your work with the horses. I know what you do is for their best interests. Steve, you article was great and it provoked lots of discussion, You couldn't ask for more.

09 Aug 2008 2:58 PM

Is it perhaps a sign of the times that Curlin and BB do not meet?  Compared to the "old days" when horses (healthy) raced so much more than they do today, a meeting between Curlin and BB will become much more "historically" significant if they only meet once.  If they were to meet 4 or 5 times, you might get a much more accurate sense of which one was the better horse.  Although a race between them might be good for the industry (certainly good for the betting windows at the track) in terms of publicity, it might not really reveal much relative to the 2 horses' abilities and the connections may not want to risk this one shot gamble.

Posting on the internet is a "new" type of social interaction and often involves an evolution on how one shoud comport themselves.  

I greatly value this site as an opportunity for education!  Please don't go away.

09 Aug 2008 3:21 PM

Norma, Personally I consider the Blood Horse a VERY well respected Magazine/webmag. I think you made a statement in the context of a blog that had trainers responding therefore the feeling that it was a personal insult. Steve was talking about BB, RD, JJ and Curlin (needs a cool initial too). You chose to change the tenor. Steve, you should be insulted, not a well respected magazine? This is an online magazine and the articles, interviews, blogs and writers on here are FIRST CLASS. INJ if you want people to think your'e kind, don't make statements that can be interpreted at not so vague insults against other posters, not really pertinent to the subjects in the article. Me I'm a happy guy, I've hit some big bets today.Arlington Million, Beverly D coming up, but I digress. Steve you're from Jersey right? Why aren't you at Monmouth, too humid, hot or whatever it is back there? See you in Cali in OCT and we'll hope the surface is actually on the track and not on the backside parking lot(last I saw) BB and Curlin may have to have a throwdown in the lot there wonder how they'll run on a parking lot, synthetic surface. Hey if I'm healed I'll look you up and teach you to surf. Bring your board and your wetsuit.  

09 Aug 2008 4:03 PM

Steve, glad to read you're not going to abandon bloging...you're doing a great job! (just look at all the response your blogs receive) :)  I read the blogs, but this is the first time I have posted to one.

That said, could I pick your factual brain for some info...that being the top beyers for last years' crop of 3yr olds...were they really??? THAT much superior to this years' crop? I think a horse should only run hard enough to get the job done, and that is what Big Brown did, with the exception of the Bulls*** Belmont. And along the way, he destroyed every 'history stat'  (no 3 yr old can win derby off of 3 starts, etc), and Dutrow was right...Curlin couldn't, and I don't think it was because of the competition. Those stats stood a long time for a reason.  So ya, I am a huge Big Brown fan...first horse since Cigar to get me excited,(tho Invasor came close) so also sorry won't be seeing much more of him.  :(  I am amazed that many consider this horse mediocre... go figure.

09 Aug 2008 4:49 PM

I said "WELL RESPECTED MAGS Etc." Here is what I said...

"Nothing, absolutely nothing I have written hasn't been quoted in print in well respected mags, books etc." I was talking about Bloodhorse as one respected Mag. You completely misconstrued what I said.  BTW almost every article above my post was about Dutrow and trainers actions. I didn't change the tone, I was responding! Find someone else to pick on, I hope you all feel good trying to make me into something I'm not. Where and what did it get you? It did one thing for me, made me realize that if someone disagrees with another on here they will be attacked.... What a great way to live your life..... Well you have a great time.

09 Aug 2008 7:12 PM

Wow Steve! ( and you don't have to post this live on the web if you don't want to - it's really more an encouraging note to you.)

I got off the computer last night after old Mike Relva ticked me off and made me realize that I'd stayed on the blog too long!

I thought things would have simmered down - but I never thought I'd see a major dust up to the point you were reconsidering the wisdom of taking on this type of writing assignment!

Steve - DON'T stop blogging - in spite of the insanity, hot tempers, arguments and  the misquotes and misinterpretations by one certain blogger looking to reform - it is a great way to discuss some of the best topics of the day.  

You obviously were blindsided by the leap the blog took from the actual topic of a race between Curlin/BB and into a diatribe on Dutrow from both sides of the aisle. Just proof I guess that - for better or for worse - Dutrow never elicits a neutral reaction from anyone.

Don't let it spook you off the blog - your writing and insight is invaluable - and you remain the main reason I read the B-H.  Maybe just remind the bloggers if another hot topic takes off that they need to stay on topic and not to take things personally.

On one other note - I was sorry Tizdejavu lost - but I was THRILLED that Silverfoot almost took 3rd in the Million!  Another old man who can still run the big races!

Take a break from the blog and enjoy the weekend!

09 Aug 2008 7:27 PM

All this hoopla about Big Brown may turn out to be much ado about nothing, a tempest in a teapot.

In his regular column, Ragozin Insider, which appears in the daily electronic edition for today 8/9/08 of the major Blood-Horse rival (Don't worry, Steve, I subscribe to both), Bob Ehalt commented that Big Brown's Ragozin for the Haskell was 3 3/4, the same score he earned in the Preakness and not as good as his minus 3/4 from THE DERBY. The Preakness was off 2 weeks rest and followed a big effort while the Haskell followed a 2 month break.

Conceding that Big Brown is the best 3 year old in the U.S., Ehalt said that "is about the same as being the best Major League Baseball team in Kansas City." In last year's Haskell both winner, Any Given Saturday and Curlin (3rd) earned 1s (Remember that the lower a Ragozin number, the better). So there is a possibility that Big Brown has not recovered fully from the stress of his Triple Crown campaign.

To top this all off, in the last edition of that same rival's weekly magazine that I received (which might not be the most recent as my Post Office delivers my magazines on its own schedule - I once received 3 issues of Blood-Horse on the same day) but it is dated 8/09/08, Three Chimneys has a full page ad extolling the virtues of Big Brown on page 9.

We all expect the UPS poster boy  to retire after the Breeders' Cup, but does this ad portend something earlier? Or am I making too much of a normal breeding practice to let the owners of potential Big Brown mates know it's time to book their 'reservations' for next year?

09 Aug 2008 7:34 PM

Steve, please continue to write here on this blog!  It is great to read your thoughts and for those of us who aren't lucky enough to be actively involved in racing, it is really great to have a chance to interact with those who have the inside info and knowledge!  I didn't read anything in your article that seemed controversial but I've noticed a lot of blogs get off the subject and sometimes someone gets upset. For the most part though they are entertaining and informative.

09 Aug 2008 7:36 PM
Steve Haskin

cfoxo, here ya go:

First number is their average Beyer at 3. Second is their high Beyer:

Street Sense -- 105/111 (Preakness)

Hard Spun -- 103/112 (BC Classic)

Curlin -- 106.6/119 (BC Classic)

Any Given Sat-- 101.2/113 (Haskell)

Big Brown  -- 105.6/109 (Ky. Derby)

* AGS's Average does not include the 72 got in the Classic.

09 Aug 2008 7:39 PM

Whoa Norma Jean calm down. Jordy is a jokester. If you read any of his poste he's serious about .001% of the time (see the offer to teach Steve to surf and the throwdown in the parking lot between BB and Curlin to mention just a few) he is a young guy. You keep getting riled up and it's not worth it. Blogs can be brutal. There were at least 10 people on here who interpreted your posts the same. I was going to comment to you personally. Your email doesn't appear on here,only if both parties agree they will give to each. As far as your MySpace, unless you're the Actress or Heavy Metal Christian band, no way to contact you there. You might want to do like I have started doing when I'm mad and compose your response, then transfer it. I think it's helped me. I'm sure you are a really nice lady, you come off a little combative and even silent fan who posted on here then Vic Zast's blog noticed it. She sounds like a treasure, commented  about the hats and even on here was very calm and well-reasoned, even Steve mentioned it. I did my darndest to try and convince Steve to keep blogging even offering unsolicted blogging advice, most of the folks disagreeing with him have made amends and the two gentlemen were just that,seems like they squared everything with each other. It is supposed to be fun and interesting but some subjects are volatile and get nasty. I'm not trying to lecture just trying to be helpful.

09 Aug 2008 8:21 PM

Jordy, behave. Actually Norma Jean, a couple people on here did quote you and it is a big web mag with newsletters sent to all the BH subsribers, I have 9 I haven't read since I got back. If you don't think it's viewed by a lot of people just look at all the posters, multiply that by a bunch,that don't comment. I don't know how many hits they get on here but I bet it's a lot. Then figure how many people are reading this and taking it as very legit. Even though you later explained your marketing comment I guarantee as an experienced moderator on these kinds of boards, that some people didn't read past that before they told a friend that a PR person said Lots of trainers drug......etc. It's human nature. They aren't going to sit here and read every comment, they'll read some, skim some and look for ones that miror their opinions. Trust me that's the way it is.

09 Aug 2008 8:30 PM
Helen S

It's true what they say:  It only takes a few bad people to ruin it for everyone.  People just don't know when they have a good thing going, and don't appreciate it until it's gone.

Why don't you guys take your childish bickering elsewhere?

09 Aug 2008 8:42 PM

I hope Curlin will keep running next yr.  It's so rare people keep their stallions running beyond 3 anymore, yet if you consider a horse isn't mature until he/she's 5, we probably don't even get to see them at their best.  We were really disappointed Street Sense was retired, felt he hadn't yet lived up to his racing potential.  

What's the latest on Rags to Riches, does anybody know?  I'm glad a few of last yr.'s 3-yr.-old crop is still around -- her, Curlin, Grasshopper.

Re. Rick Dutrow, I think he should just shut up and let his work with his horses speak for itself.  He should take a pg. out of "Silent Tom" Smith's book.........

09 Aug 2008 9:10 PM

Helen, I think Steve will still write, he's too good not to. It's just a shock the first time you get on a controversial blog and the subject fires emotions. I have to repeat, that pretty much everyone on here has made amends and Steve and the trainer who was upset have resolved their issue. Actually I didn't think they were bickering just both very sure of their OWN point of view and if you ARE talking about Atthebarn, I'd say it takes a big man to apologize on the board like he did and then props to Steve, when he followed suit. That's what debate is all about, that is what happens on these boards. That is why some times they aren't for the faint of heart. Maybe it's controversial but isn't it better than throwing a party and nobody coming? Every hit on here produces revenue so, don't discourage people. What most running these boards want is a lot of activity.

09 Aug 2008 9:41 PM

If it's a Steve Haskin moderated blog, you can bet it gets a lot of hits. And that's a better bet than Archipenko to win the Million.

09 Aug 2008 9:47 PM

Steve, a serious question. Did you see the La Jolla at DM or the Million at AP? What do you think about the two winners of those if they were to go in the Turf against BB? Not sure the French horse will go, can't mention his name he knocked me out of the pick 3 but if he supplements, was it a fluke? At DM I had Sky Cape and Tangled Tango but missed the tri for a grand. Where do you think the competition will come from if BB goes in the Turf, will it be the Euros? One last question, do you think the SA turf course will suit BB It is sort of different than the one he won on as a 2 y.o. at Saratoga. Just interested what you think.

09 Aug 2008 9:53 PM

BlueHen, according to www.pedigreequery.com, Rags To Riches was "retired March 24, 2008, after re-injuring the right front pastern she had fractured while finishing second in the 2007 Gazelle Stakes. (She's) scheduled to be bred to Giant's Causeway."

I checked the Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/.../Rags_to_Riches_(horse)) and found this note: "Rags To Riches is currently 56 days pregnant (5/28/08). Announced on ESPN2." Since that was posted 104 days ago, she should now be 160 days along. Using a gestation period of 340 days, and assuming I did the math correctly, her baby should be born around March 8, 2009.

What a great Belmont that was!

09 Aug 2008 10:16 PM

Thnaks Bradgm & Bighorsefan, you're right, people don't read all of something, only want they want to read, LOL, then interpret it the way they want. But I am sorry it trickled down into such a mess. I at least re-read something if I get it wrong the first time. Then I own up. A recent disater about the difference between NEW Mexico & Mexico! I'm sure you know.... Anyway I did put my email above kind of incognito: it's normafullmer@yahoo.com and you can search my space with my email & find me. I'd love to chat with you guys, anytime. And I'll get of this particular blog!! LOL And Thanks again Steve, your writing and the blitz that follows, does liven up ones day!!

09 Aug 2008 10:27 PM

Thanks for the beyer info Steve. So BB's numbers are not far off...all the high beyers are in the fall, which is logical.  Though is true can't be said this years' crop produced those numbers, I still think he is special and wish were more like him racing...and racing longer!!

And Steve, I hope you do stay with this format, though as you have seen, can get rather intense, for no reason at all.....lol.  I was as amazed as you that your original topic went where it did.

I used to blog on a backgammon board; the majority of the content on there had nothing to do with backgammon.  :)

09 Aug 2008 10:41 PM

Norma Jean, Sorry I can't accept the offer to chat with you. My policy is I can talk about racing on here, as long as I do it anonymously or if I was interviewed, and I wouldn't disclose a lot of detail even then. Chatting with you about the intricacies of horse racing wouldn't be ethical considering that is in part what my clients pay for. I'm pretty straight arrow so I wouldn't do anything like that. When I talked about lugging in, lead changes and BB's odd head carriage on Jason's blog it was a minutia of what racing involves. They sell some excellent books here on BH, one I suggest to a lot of people interested in getting into racing is "New Thoroughbred Owners Handbook" they sell it here it's very inexpensive and even if you don't intend to own, it's pretty insightful as to what racing is about conformation, costs, medication, races, incentives and many other things.

Bradgm, She does have a myspace page re-read her post to me. Never saw one before, maybe my 16yo nephews one time, didn't realize adults did them, learn something new every day. Explains a whole lot.

09 Aug 2008 11:48 PM

I  thought I'd send this little piece of philosophy on Steve's behalf. Then I thought, " wait a minute , isn't it funny , we've discussed the genetics of horse's and here's a little something to share about human genetics "

We all are individuals , who all have certain characteristics , and each individual has their own individual thought process and because everyone has their own thought process, you have to understand each person thinks differently ;  so how can you get angry , upset , mad at how another thinks.   It's just good ole genetics.

10 Aug 2008 7:11 AM
Matthew W

Just what was so much safer about last year's Breeders Cup at rain-bogged Monmouth Park---Curlin went there?? And the Santa Anita Poly should do fine in the Fall, where there will be no rain....ans yes, one race will not be enough, but it sure seems important enough to me that those two animals do meet, somewhere..anywhere....heck, I remember in 2003 there were Eastern horses who were skipping The BC at Santa Anita---there's more to it than poly---anyway, there's more going on before the BC....like The Travers! Lookin' pretty good! lets see if something shakes out of The Midsummer Derby.....

10 Aug 2008 12:02 PM

...well, I say the heck with both Big Brown and Curlin...  Neither one of them is going to win in Santa Anita.

The Classic winner is going to be WELL ARMED, following in the footsteps of his sire.

Take that to the bank!  ;-)

10 Aug 2008 12:28 PM


Pretty good quote. Problem is, with the electronic age they aren't just thinking it they're preaching to the multitudes who seem to be listening and making ill informed judgements about others not directly involved, and it seems to be anything goes, say whatever pops into your head. I have an 86 year old grandad, cantakerous as you've ever seen. He fought in WWII and is a highly decorated veteran,but, he says free speech is a little TOO free nowadays. Cracks me up every time.

Same mentality that has people watching reality shows. Personally can't stand them, they're anything BUT real.Too much do your fellow man in before he does you to suit me.

Norma, Sorry, did find you MySpace, not judging you but it explains some things to me. As far as people reading things, most of us that took exception to what you said, read,re-read, quoted and commented on it. It's always the comment perceived as an attack or controversial that sticks in peoples minds. I think that is the very thing that started this whole debate, not what Steve wrote but who he wrote about, what has been said by a single person quoted in the article.

10 Aug 2008 1:13 PM

OOps didn't finish my quote from my grandad "Free speech is a little TOO free nowadays and most of it isn't worth a plug nickel" Coming from an 86 y.o. maybe it makes more sense why it cracks me up.

10 Aug 2008 2:34 PM

Thanks, Shamfan, for the Rags to Riches update.  I'll tell my daughter, who's a huge fan of hers.  Hopefully Rags will have an easy foaling and we'll all get to enjoy seeing her baby race someday. :)

10 Aug 2008 3:14 PM


I would say 'the luck of the Irish' but I'm Irish. Rags retires goes to Ashford comes in season and is in foal within 9 days, seems to be doing well and in 342 days The Belmont winner has a colt or filly. My luck, I'd retire her take her to the breeding shed and she'd be infertile. Course my luck I wouldn't have her to begin with. Will be interesting to see if she can replcate herself. Not many of the great ones have but we can always hope, I'm pulling for her myself.

10 Aug 2008 4:43 PM
First Time Starter

I'm relativly new to the sport. I was in such awe watching last year's Triple Crown (Rags-to-Riches reeled me in)that I started watching racing every weekend, went to the track, spent a good deal of time in the paddocks for the chance to admire and be close to these beautiful animals; be able for the rare moment to look them in the eye. Silly I know, but they have kind of taken on rockstar-like qualities to me whether they are the true superstars of racing or simply the horse going out there as the longshot to run his or her heart out.

I also started following some of the trainers out of curiousity in regards to their styles, personalites and stories.  Pletcher, Asmussen, McLaughlin, Mott, to name a few. I read the industry publications and websites. I have become 'attached' to numerous horses, closely monitoring their progress, workouts and races. My list grows by leaps and bounds with every race I watch. In short, I have become an avid racing fan, though still quite the novice.

So, here are my comments, not knowing the parties involved, just an outsider's opinion. On the subject of Rick Dutrow. Prior to the Dubai World Cup, I did not know much about him but of course had seen some of his horses race - Kip Deville,Benny the Bull, Diamond Stripes, etc. I was excited for him and the connections with their Dubai victories and with Big Brown's Florida Derby win. I thought WOW, this guy is going to have a great year and good for him!  Along came the Derby and the buzz about Big Brown and unfortunately with it, along came Dutrow's Big Mouth and IEAH's smugness and by the Preakness, and I know I am being childish when I say this, I found myself wishing that Big Brown belonged to another owner or at the least, that he was not trained by Dutrow - regardless how great a trainer he is and how much he 'loves' his horses.

His actions since the Derby have set a bad example for the sport and he is a big put off, especially for fans like myself who have that rookie enthusiasm  - you know, when they find something new and are really excited and eager to become a part of it.

It is hard enough witnessing the horrible breakdowns of horses - Eight Belles broke my heart so badly I nearly bailed out fearful to watch such a thing happen again. But then there are those horses like Big Brown, Curlin, the many other extraordinary horses, as well as the horses no one hears much about, who gut it out and sometimes even beat big odds to win. This is what keeps me in, keeps me wanting to see them run, be part of the excitement and exhilaration. I know I am naive, I don't know enough about racing to even be posting here I suppose, but I feel things like egotistical bravado, trash talk about other trainers and horses - the dumb 'my horse is way better than your horse' grade school antics, these things are such turn offs to new fans.

Every year multitudes of potential fans watch the the Triple Crown because it is a huge sporting event spectacle. But they don't watch racing again until the next Derby rolls around and in good part, at least in my case and others I have discussed this with, because of the lack of strong, positive and informative promotion of the sport. For one thing, there are not enough features on the horses themselves in televised events. That is one of the best promotions and incentives to want to follow a horse through-out the year; which in turn can lead to following more and more horses and voila - a new fan is born.

And then there is the bad press, issues like medication violations, horse slaughter, etc, that weigh in as well. While watching horses go down does turn many away from the sport as I  mentioned and of course everyone knows, something like Dutrow's poor 'ambassadorial skills' during the Triple Crown this year, fuel the fire and offer even more reason to find something better to do with one's time.

We are all accustomed to trash talk, bad sportsmanship, brawls and the likes in other sports. But somehow, I feel like horse racing should be different. Yes, there are horses who are 'way better' than other horses. But history proves time and again that in racing, like any other sport, anything is possible - and this year's Belmont is a good case in point.

The vast majority involved in the industry do much to promote and bring honor to the sport of racing and do care a great deal about horses and not just as bankrolls but as magnificent creatures who inspire and bring much joy and so many thrills and who will always remain above those things that tarnish the sport.

It really is, as often said, all about the horses. I may be a rookie, I may be naive, and perhaps clueless in this sport. But I do know that much.

10 Aug 2008 4:55 PM

First Time, You know the article wasn't supposed to be about Rick Dutrow, but how do we not talk him when Big Brown is the subject? You just said on here what a bunch have been saying. A few actually in the industry who don't want to be painted in the same light as RD  We know that competitive one-upsmanship goes on in any sport but racing is usually less public with it, that's what offends the kinder-gentler racetrackers who eventually get so frustrated they say things back.

ON A LIGHTER note, if you haven't already done so, go to www.equibase.com they have a virtual stable feature, you can plug in your favorite horses and get an email whenever they work, are entered and then their results. You can buy the pedigee and so forth. I do it and I'm a big handicapper and I think it's a lot of fun and interesting. I already talked about it on another blog.

10 Aug 2008 6:22 PM
Steve Haskin

First Time Starter, you may be a rookie, but you are not naive and you demonstrated in your post that you certainly are not clueless. The only thing you wrote that I have to disagree with is you saying you suppose you don't know enough about racing to even be posting here. Not only is that not a criteria to express your views on here, but your post was intelligent and well written, and shows you have an excellent grasp of the sport and a great deal of passion. Please keep your comments coming.

10 Aug 2008 6:57 PM

Big Brown is a wonderful horse however, he does not deserve horse of the year honors. That should go to Curlin and Zenyatta in a tie. Both of these horses have been fantastic in all of their races this year.

10 Aug 2008 7:28 PM

BIGHORSEFAN, I think even with your luck, which has to be better than mine, you could score a quality foal or two with our much beloved Rags. Her Dad is a Belmont winner, his Dad won the Triple Crown, and so did her Dad's Grandpop. With her own Belmont trophy, that's 4 consecutive generations of classics winners. And her own Mom produced another Belmont winner and the colt many expected to beat Big Brown in this year's Belmont though he was scratched and, I think, returned to Japan. Remember all the hype about producing 3 straight Belmont winners? What a family!

First Time Starter, you can no longer consider yourself a rookie. You have been endorsed by our fearless leader. That's the highest honor in blogdom!  

10 Aug 2008 8:05 PM

Amen to that First Time Fan, Jordan and most of all Steve. We racetrackers LOVE the fans. One thing a lot like is talking to fans or showing them around. Some of us aren't real talkative one on one but there's enough that will talk your ear off to make up for us quieter (in person,I've written more on these blogs than I've said in my whole life) guys and gals. Course get me talking about one of the horses in my barn and you'll know what treats they like, whether they like to play with a toy in the stall in no time attall. We don't ask that people be insiders to comment, far from it. Most of us want opinions of others. We just don't like to be cast in a bad light with no real basis or called out by a colleague or have negative blanket statements made about us based on or inspired by those few negative entities within the industry. Yes others may say things, but most don't have the high profile of the one guy and the ones who aren't controversial are not given as much attention, usually the case in all walks of life. The negativity bothers us because most of us are honest, hardworking, hard trying decent people. Just like a lot of people who aren't in the industry. If people got the impression that we think you have to be an insider to speak or have and opinion, that's not what we meant. Again just like you wouldn't want people badmouthing you, we don't either, even less so when it comes from within. Then someone who is not in the industry jumps on the bandwagon, uses what the guy says and says we're all doing questionable things, it hurts, plus we start to get very wary of people.

Keep your interest! You didn't say where you are from but racing fan on earth should try to get to Saratoga, Keeneland, Churchill and Del Mar at least once. Of course there are a lot of others that are great but the ones I mentioned are my personal favorites for their historical perspective, ambiance or their scenic nature. Take that as MY personal opinion and nobody get offended cause I didn't mention your personal favorite.

10 Aug 2008 8:10 PM

Sham, I know all the history, that's what makes it even sadder,

I'd never own any of em.. The one that scratched was Casino Drive, 06 Jazil, getting worse by the minute for me. Just feelin' sorry for myself I guess, return from the Spa letdown, saw the 1st sale. Of course I go to Del Mar frequently so don't feel too sorry for me.

10 Aug 2008 8:23 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Your doubts about the untried Santa Anita surface mirror my own, and I think your proposal that Horse of the Year be determined in the Clark is a good one. I would have preferred the 10f Jockey Gold Cup be the determining event, but I can understand BB’s connections not considering that venue a neutral one. Obviously, Churchill Downs would be equally desirable for both, although 9f is not as true a test as the 10f at which both have proven themselves. It also gives BB more time to both heal and mature.

To those who advocate that both champions simply accept the circumstances dictated by the Breeders’ Cup, I say it’s not only unfair to the horses, it’s unfair to the owners, bettors, and other fans of the sport as well. None of these groups had any input to this questionable venue selection and event repositioning. Even the tracks may not be getting a fair shake, although Churchill Downs as complaining victim is hard to swallow.

Perhaps rather than allocate two successive days to a single venue, single days at two venues would be more appropriate. Thus in 2008, all turf events (and some non-graded events) could be held at Santa Anita while the graded events on dirt could be run at Belmont or Churchill. They could all be run on the same Saturday with less time between races, or on separate days (and not necessarily successive ones). If the BC is unwilling, maybe Churchill could test the waters with a Dirt Cup Day this year and card the River City, Golden Rod, and Kentucky Jockey Club on the same day as the Clark.

The sad fact is that all graded stakes except for the Triple Crown events and its preps have been devalued by the Breeders’ Cup; especially the Travers,Woodward, and JCGC. Awarding points for in-the-money finishes in major stakes seems a much more accurate and flexible system for determining divisional championships. If the BC is to showcase champions as a rematch of contenders, there should a series or sequence of qualifying races defined for most divisions with the Cup race as the terminating leg. Bonuses could apply to each leg based on finishes (or points accumulated) in prior legs.

That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing Curlin and BB contesting BOTH the Goodwood and the BC Classic to determine not only Horse of the Year, but also their respective potential as synthetic surface sires. I just wouldn’t hold it against either set of connections for passing on that opportunity under such uncertain circumstances.

10 Aug 2008 8:36 PM

Saw someone else correct their writing so:  I meant EVERY racing fan on earth.(well those not from earth should go too.)

10 Aug 2008 9:07 PM

Wow, the first two sunny days here in New Hampshire in weeks, so we go off on the motocycle to enjoy the sun, I come back to catch up on a seemingly innocuous blog about hoping two wonderful horses meet before one for sure and probably both are retired and it's stormin' to beat the band in here! (oooh, what a great race horse name)

Always remember, you become more convinced your own opinions are valid, or not, if you allow them to be challenged... it forces you to think the arguments through on both sides. (without rancor). This is a good thing.

11 Aug 2008 9:26 AM

to clarify my motherly post...yes, I am a Mom...yes, he did get these motherly kind of lectures...he's now a US Marine...he still gets them. ;-0

11 Aug 2008 9:28 AM

I appreciate the opinions that "great race horses win on all surfaces" but we've only ever had 2 surface types for them to contest...dirt and turf, now we are asking them to be great on 3 surfaces, actually more than that because synthetic is not uniform. So, Curlin has won grade 1's on fast and mud, now he has to be a grade 1 specialist on "whatever" at Santa Anita Park...he really will be a truly "Great Horse" if he runs in the BC and can do it...

I love Curlin...I was a Hard Spun fan, but I have become a solid fan of Curlin...his 3 year old campaign against a stellar 3 year old crop, beating the (eventual) older HOY (who had just set a track record)as a 3 year-old in the BC, beating the Dubai bounce after the World Cup and taking second in his inaugural Gr1T turf attempt...he's a real race horse.

It will be ironic if BB with his bad feet enter's the gene pool next spring and Iron Man Curlin races another year...

Of course, I really want to see Zenyatta run in the BC...go, girlie, go!!!

11 Aug 2008 10:40 AM


Right to a point, there was too much rancor and a few attacks on people who didn't deserve them, by commenters on here who took the board in a different direction than I know Steve wanted. Of course Rick is controversial and then it involves BB, Mr. Jackson gets upset so it involves Curlin, then the defenders of Rick and detractors of others or everyone in racing get upset. Anyway did you see the new article about Curlin's ranking. Interesting stuff. And I toast Zenyatta and Proud Spell as well, like they say about Lukas and his great fillies, I'm a bit of a ladies man myself.

11 Aug 2008 11:00 AM

Yes, I did see the new ranking's...very interesting.

I love the girls, this year they are a great group, all the way around...3 year-olds and the older girls...I'm excited about the 2 year-olds, too. (Evita Argentina!)

Like I posted earlier I was a Hard Spun fan for the colts, but the hat I bought, and am putting on as I type, is "Rags" who I loved as  a two-year old...thought she was a fire-breathing dragon...LOL!


11 Aug 2008 11:25 AM
Rebs Policy

Dear Mr. Haskin,

How wonderful is it that we all have this much interest in what would outwardly appear to be just a standard opinion/blog piece?

To quote Mark Twain: "It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races."

Thanks to all who contribute here and to Blood-Horse & Steve Haskin for providing the platform to do so.

Keep up the stimulating conversation. (oh... and speaking of light-hearted difference of opinions, I'll offer one to "Indulto": your nom de plume was a helluva good sprinter at the ripe old age of 9 but he couldn't have warmed up my nom de plume at 5 to 6.5F at Hol or SA. What were Indulto's connections thinking when they put him (a late-running sprinter) in that match race with Chariwari, a QH, in 1972? EEK!)



11 Aug 2008 11:33 AM
Monica V


Did you see that Timeform rated Curlin as the best horse in the world?  I'm sure you'll have something to say about that.

11 Aug 2008 2:35 PM
Monica V

Like so many others, I would love to see Curlin and Big Brown at SA for the classic.  I understand the misgivings but I really think they would both do well in the race and what a headliner for the BC!  There is no reason for them not to face each other, it only seems right.  It would be a hell of a race if BB's feet hold up until then but I have my doubts about that.  It would finally put a stop to all the jabbing back and forth.  I am hoping against hope that it does happen.  We only have to hope that BB's feet stay sound.  Curlin, no problem, he's an iron horse and his babies, when he goes to stud, should be the same.

11 Aug 2008 2:49 PM

Rebs Policy (wasn't that a QH in the old days.) Anyway I don't think that's what old Samuel L Clemens aka Mark Twain meant. There's far too many *** Joe's(negative nabobs) on here trying to kill a few Tom Sawyers (race trackers) and not enough Huck Finn's trying to defend them.

If Samuel's related to Roger, how much can we take his opinion?

11 Aug 2008 3:38 PM
Kelly E.

I found it funny to see Jess Jackson reply to Dutrow's ridiculous commentary on Curlin!  I guess he finally decided he'd had enough.  Still...

I also am tired (sorry to disrespect Mr. Haskin whom I love) this bit about excusing Dutrow for his actions/words by saying he is just viewing the horse as his child and is passionate about it, etc.  Puleeze!!!

I just can't see a match-up between the two horses.  No matter who wins on what surface, distance, etc...there will be excuses, etc.  That's why there never are "match" races anymore.

11 Aug 2008 4:55 PM
Steve Haskin

Oy, I cannot believe I'm still responding to comments from people who make up their own interpretations of my words. So, for Kelly, for the final time, here is what I wrote: "...with many OWNERS inclined to think of their horses as their "children," one can understand Jackson taking offense to the personal and derogatory nature of Dutrow's comments." -- Kelly, does that really reflect what you said I wrote? Yes, I said he has passion for Big Brown, but where do I excuse his actions? I'm glad at least you love me, Kelly :)

11 Aug 2008 5:30 PM

There are not any match races anymore because hopefully owners are not stupid enough to let it happen. Horses are worth to much to risk injuries. One match race does not a great horse make.Horses of today are not made like the horses of the 40's 50's and 60's 70's.I think they never will be again. It's like mass production,like they do the chickens, more money more money.Of course that's my feelings only but with all the unwanted horses going to slaughter seems like there is an over breeding that is also the reason I think horses are unsturdy and so many break downs on all surfaces.

11 Aug 2008 6:11 PM

Oy? What a great name for a racehorse!


11 Aug 2008 6:35 PM
Monica V


I didn't see one thing in your comments that needed to be addressed.  In fact, I have never seen anything that anyone should take as inflammatory or critical in anything you wrote.  You always are fair in your assessments and having been around horseracing as long as you have, you have a great eye for a good horse.  That's why I enjoy your pre-derby articles, gives me an idea of what is going on during that week and who is looking best.  You are extremely knowledgable and I appreciate that.

You tackled the Big Brown/Curlin thing and since it is such a sensitive topic, you were bound to get the comments you did.  Misinterpretation always happens, people see what they want to see.

Thanks for sticking your neck out.  I have thoroughly enjoyed your last few blogs and Jason's.

It will be quite interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months.  I still think the two big ones should meet.  The synthetic surfaces are here to stay so that obstacle will have to be accepted before too long.  I really believe that Curlin can handle it, he handles slop really well and it didn't embarrass himself on the grass.  I guess it won't happen.

Draynay is very outspoken about BB and Curlin, Curlin being a second rate, one dimensional horse who was voted best in the world by the Brittish.  Obviously, they haven't read this blog and gotten the true story from Draynay.  Sorry, had to say that!  You can slap my hand later!

Thanks for your terrific blogs.

11 Aug 2008 6:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Monica. That's the weird part of it. I didn't tackle the "Big Brown/Curlin thing," nor did I "stick my neck out." I merely was looking at possibilities where they could meet, focusing it around the Clark Handicap.

11 Aug 2008 7:18 PM
Monica V


Yes, I to, saw the ads for Big Brown and thought that was a bit premature.  After all, the breeding season doesn't begin until February, I think.  They want to start booking mares to BB and they will probably breed him 100 times a year.  Used to be they only bred 50 times and no more.  Mr. Clay has a huge investment in Big Brown so it's important that he be a popular stallion which I'm sure he will be.  His only negative is his bad feet.  His sire had them too so they pass them on. It's also important that he finish his year well so Dutrow is under a great deal of pressure and I think that's why no meeting of the big two.  I don't think BB's feet can take the Woodward or they would have gone after Curlin.

They are looking to win the classic and that's going to be on synthetic.  Who knows what will happen?  He may retire before the BC.

11 Aug 2008 7:29 PM
Monica V


As far as I'm concerned you did stick your neck out bringing the two up at all.  I've never seen such passion as those two inspire and everyone gets into.  Didn't you think they would?  Man, I've seen it all over the blogs in here.

It's really fun though!

I would really love to see them run against each other.  It would shut Draynay up about Curlin ducking BB.  In my honest opinion,

I really think BB is a special horse but I think Curlin is even more special.  I keep hearing about the fabulous races of BB and don't hear anything about the DWC.

I was astounded by what Curlin did there and I really do think he's unbeatable on dirt.

Watch Draynay about this!!!!  Love to bait him and he never disappoints me.

11 Aug 2008 7:39 PM

Mr Haskin I have greatly enjoyed your writings in the blood horse, my fav was to get the magazine and read your derby dozen, Even if I could never understand your picking Momba.I really can't see BB and Curlin meeting, BB has to meet him and hopefully for them win, he has not beat a good horse yet, really do you think that was a very good bunch in the Haskell? On the backside BB is known as a good horse, not a great one. Dutrow has to call out Curlins people to get to race him and hopefully beat him,then he maybe will get his due. That syndicate is far from out of the woods yet, the belmont is still lurking in peoples minds. Funny thing is that I have not really heard top trainers, like Lucas, Mott really say that much about him or maybe I just missed it, that is very possible,Zito doesn't seem afraid of him, one win one second two thirds, has grabbed about a million chasing him with his second string. like I said love to read your articles in the BH

11 Aug 2008 8:31 PM

Monica, hey haven't talked to you in a while. Actually what happened was Steve brought up a scenario between the two horses, since Dutrow trains the horse no one can separate the two. Steve quoted Jackson who, like a bunch of racetrackers, is getting fed up with Dutrow. It's all so intertwined that it's like a fishing line you can't untangle or find the end to. Even our favorite old trainer(who I met at the Spa) and even his younger trainer friend had gotten involved. Think Atthebarn is gone now, he was pretty upset even though he and Steve worked it out, you never know about those still water deep thinker types. Draynay is not even in the picture really we have a multitude of others to choose from.

Anyway, Wanda, Jordan me and a couple others are trying to figure out a way to get a super horse, if you have a few million we'll cut you in when we buy Rags to Riches mama. How about it? LOL

Steve, like you said about the proverbial train wreck. Although I think a bunch of our racetrackers have gotten off the train at one of the earlier stops. Let me tell you it can get addictive, you hate it but it's like the movie where the hand just does things on it's own, like typing responses. At least you're laughing (I think) and quoting yiddish remarks so it's all good. I think though your auto edit is pretty funny. Jordan was talking about a character from an American classic and it got ****

out, when people are calling race trackers horse killers etc. IMHO :)

11 Aug 2008 8:48 PM

THE BLOG: An alien lifeform it grows continuously as it consumes everything in its path.

Beware of the BLOG! It will eat you alive!

Nothing Can Stop It!

Aaagggh, The BLOG, kill it quickly before it multiplies! Remember the 1958 movie the Blob? Just a parody.

Hey another Steve (McQueen) played the lead and the hero in that 'B' movie too.

Steve, not to scare you but Jason's blog on TC had way over 500 comments on it.

I wonder if Jordy's offer to teach you to surf during the BC still stands? By the time this is over you may want to go and wear a little shark attracting cologne. Although you already swam with the sharks on this blog. LOL

11 Aug 2008 9:17 PM

Big Brown has really been handed the short end of the stick.

He is a great horse and always will be a great horse.  He had no part in choosing who owns him or who trains him.

I still love him  -  win or lose, and I'd love to have him to take care of.

11 Aug 2008 10:04 PM



11 Aug 2008 10:45 PM

The best races I saw last year were Curlin running down Lawyer Ron in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Rags to Riches in the Belmont over Curlin. The best races this year, so far, are Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby and Yeats winning his third Gold Cup at Ascot.  You don't need Beyer numbers to tell you these are great racehorses.

12 Aug 2008 1:50 AM
Steve Haskin

John, I can't understand my picking Monba either. It went against everything I believe, but I foolishly remained loyal to the horse because I had him up at the top early in the year, and I really didn't like anyone else, at least at a price. For me to pick a horse coming off a Polytrack race was insane. That was a lesson well learned.

Brad, when in doubt, always quote a Yiddish phrase. Cen't hoit.

Bighorsefan, your Blob commercial was great until you explained that it was from the Blob. Never explain a joke.

And I can assure you that neither this nor any blog I write will ever make it to 500 comments -- unless I'm not involved :)

12 Aug 2008 3:43 AM
Steve Haskin

Actually, I shouldnt say coming off a Polytrack race, because I loved Street Sense last year and he was coming off a Polytrack race. Monba evidently didn't come out of the Derby very well, because we havent seen him since, and I keep forgetting to ask Jack Wolf what happened to him.

12 Aug 2008 3:52 AM

Steve, I'm curious what happened to Monba as well.

On the synthetic surface at SA, not sure where it's at now haven't been by there lately any word on it?  Being in for only a month before the BC. The mess with it last year makes it iffy. I'm just wondering how long we'll have to wait for the people to start saying who's going, I sure haven't heard anyone saying I'M GOING emphatically like they did last year.  Then such a short amount of time to figure the handicapping angle, it will be tricky. I just don't agree with moving it to Keeneland or Del Mar, although Keeneland is interested and Del Mar's surface is improved.

Like you I don't like having it in the same place 2 years in a row, period. Course I bet the SA meets draw a lot more horses leading up to 2009, what do you think?. The one thing I was perplexed by was the decision by Churchill Downs that they weren't interested. I think they said it cost more than it made? I believe they've since changed their mind on that haven't they?

One thing I can say is the BB issue has people fired up and interested. Kind of funny, the eternal good guy Carl last year before the Travers and the eternal Bad Boy Dutrow now, although i don't think we've heard from him since the after Haskell comments, have we?

You know you've already trumped your colleague on a similar subject so you're doing a great job blogging, as painful as it may have been. Kind of gets into your blood doesn't it? Your early a.m. post unless it's on a delay of some sort, don't lose sleep over it. Mine, up with one of the mini me's.  

I have to say you've stumped me on that one, looked up part of it. BIG always does that, afraid of infringement I guess drives us crazy when he explains or clarifies his jokes. Our other friend Jordy could carry it off he's the real character of our trio, but he's quite a handicapper.

12 Aug 2008 6:58 AM

In response to your suggestion that Curlin and Big Brown meet in the Clark I couldn't agree more. There is no way that the HOY should be decided on a fake surface period much less one that hasn't even been run over as we blog.

The Classic should be downgraded in consideration for that honor soley based on the surface it is being run on. What a shame they have awarded the Breeders Cup twice in a row to a venue where they have no idea how safe the surface will be or how it will even play.

Curlin vs. Big Brown should take place and on the dirt which is where both have proven to be at their best. I too have grown weary of Duck Duck Dutrows antics especially given the perfect opportunity to meet Curlin in the Woodward and choosing to duck him instead all the while baiting his connections.

Not fair to the horse who has made me a very nice sum of money from wagers but people like Dutrow and draynay have me pulling against him.

Too bad they can't see it hurts the sport to spew the bull they do.

Some people just go through life bitter I guess and revel in confrontation. Thank god we have those like you Steve to provide real and for the most part unbiased insight into the sport. Thanks!! Keep it coming.

12 Aug 2008 8:27 AM

Re: Haskell- I saw a great horse once again checked up by Kent D. so he could settle in 2nd at start. I am sure Big Brown is confused whether or not he should turn on the speed or not!  I cannot believe his connections allow Kent to ride the horse. Thank goodness he had the speed however he did not turn it on until it was almost too late.  It took 11 swats to get the message to BB that it was time to really go!  I realize he has to rate but it is twice now (2 consecutive races) that he was sharply pulled back. (The head came up again) when Kent tried to put him into 2nd at start.  

12 Aug 2008 9:55 AM


Did you ever think what might have happened if BB got caught up in a speed dual with Zitos' horse(Coal Play?)If Zito's horse is a legit horse,then KD did the right thing.It would have been interesting to see who was more rubber legged at the finish.It's one thing to stalk a fast pace and quite another to go head to head in a speed dual with a high calaber horse.If he is one.

12 Aug 2008 11:06 AM

After reading the comments from  ..... Indulto ....10 Aug ..... I thought I'd expand upon their comment ( but in a positive manner ) .... Here is what they posted .....

" Perhaps rather than allocate two successive days to a single venue, single days at two venues would be more appropriate."        They were referring to the Breeders Cup.

I like that idea, here is an idea I came up with. The year is 2010 ..2 years down the road. Both The Triple Crown and Breeders Cup races will be changed , starting in the year 2011.  Yes, I do know the history of the triple crown and its significance. BUT, there is absolutely nothing wrong with change , especially for the horses' welfare. Every sports venue somewhere along the road has made changes. Baseball used to have doubleheaders , not any more. Most professional sports have added new teams , new stadiums. We now have the Woman's NBA.

Here is my idea .... you don't have to agree with it , but its an idea to think about. Of course modifications can be made. The Kentucky Derby will continue to be the first Saturday in May. The Preakness and Belmont will be on the first Saturday's of June & July ..... each race will have 4 weeks in between. On the undercard of each Triple Crown race , will be a Breeder's Cup race, " Win and Your In ".

For The Breeder's Cup , the race's WILL BE held on two separate Saturday's in October ...... the first and third Saturday's.  That will give any trainer / owner an opportunity to get to each track if they have more than one horse. You can have one Breeder's Cup day at a track from the midwest area to the western region, and the other Breeder's Cup from the midwest to the east coast. For example .... one Saturday at Santa Anita , the other Saturday at Belmont.

It might be an idea the racing fans would like. Just as The Triple Crown carries the excitement during the three races, The Breeder's Cup might do the same thing, if ran on two different Saturday's.  Do you really think the racing FAN , had a REAL interest in the Friday / Saturday Breeder's Cup program held at Monmouth ?  For one thing , we all know , the racing fan is usually working on a Friday. Wouldn't it be better if the newly enlarged racing program the Breeder's Cup started, was held on two Saturday's ? That would give more people an opportunity to look over the program , maybe more wager's would be made and we'd have a larger audience.

Now there's a case in point ...... The Breeder's Cup made a change ...from racing on one day to two ..... it can be done with The Triple Crown too ..... give the horse's more rest between races. Isn't that what we have been discussing all along ...... our feelings about various horses ???

12 Aug 2008 12:16 PM
Monica V

Mike Revla,

No, I'm not quite as bad as Draynay but you are entitled to think that but I don't get nasty in my posts, I will bate him but we've been having this thing going for a while now and I really don't dislike him, in fact, I think we actually like each other in a odd sort of way.  

I respect your love for BB. I have nothing against the horse but our viewpoints differ.  That's all.  I happen to think Curlin is better and you think BB is better.  That's okay.  I think BB is a terrific horse.  He is absolutely the best 3 years old but I wonder about his soundness now.  I wonder about a few things.  Let's see how it plays out.  In the meantine, I truly hope BB is healthy and gives his fans one or two more thrills.  You never know what will happen but best to you!

12 Aug 2008 12:40 PM
Monica V


Hey, how are you?  Haven't talked in a while.  If I had a few million to spare, you could count me in!  LOL!  Best to you and will see you around.

12 Aug 2008 12:43 PM
The Deacon

Great article Steve: Dutrow has got his mouth running again. Dutrow is a walking, talking PR nightmare. Please tell me why Big Brown skipped the Travers to run in the Haskell, to barely beat up on average competition. Maybe Dutrow is afraid Da'Tara would humble Big Brown once again.  This years 3 year old crop (with due respect) could not hold a candle to last years. The Curlin camp is doing the right thing by the horse. They have taking some chances with Curlin and I applaud them for that. Running Curlin on turf was risky to his reputation, going all the way to Dubai was chancy as well. Dutrow takes the easy way out with Big Brown. I do not think Big Brown could beat Zenyatta or Ginger Punch right now......we will see.  

12 Aug 2008 1:12 PM
Mike S

BIG BROWN may have "won every race he finished" but even if he had "finished" the Belmont Stakes he was going to be last.

12 Aug 2008 1:20 PM
Steve Haskin

From the looks of it, our moderators were not going to publish Deacon's post, but I let it be published just to say that I think everyone has made his or her point regarding Dutrow. Please, no more comments like the Deacon's (walking, talking PR nightmare). It's all been said already in one form or another. Thanks.

12 Aug 2008 2:24 PM

Juat out of curiousity, I wonder if people think it would have made a difference in the order of finish if Curlin's and Big Brown's Kentucky Derbies were switched?  What if Curlin had the "magic carpet ride" on the outside that BB had against that field of horses and what if Big Brown had broken from within the pack and had a troubled trip until given the opportunity to "break through" in the stretch against Street Sense, Hard Spun?

12 Aug 2008 2:35 PM

Good point katinthehat. I also believe that the post for BB played into his strength given the quality of that field.When you have a choice between inside and outside posts in a race like the Derby, I would rather be outside than inside,especially with BB's running style.

12 Aug 2008 3:14 PM
Kelly E.

Steve, I apologize for generalizing what you wrote about "owners" and how some view them as "children."  You HAVE written similar pieces in the past on this subject and perhaps I was truly referencing the flavor of your opinion on this subject--as I interpret it.  

Don't you think your comments herein about how Dutrow "feels strongly" and has "a passion for Big Brown" echo your statements about Jess Jackson and his fatherly "retaliatory" comments?  It's all part and parcel of the same thing, in my opinion.  You feel strongly about anything you truly care about.  Thank God that we feel so strongly about this wonderful sport to spend the time here debating!

My final opinion on the matter...Dutrow should learn that being passionate about something (BB) does not give you free license to open your mouth at will to the detriment of others.  Be an ambassador of the sport, Mr. D, not a liability.  

Yes, there is free speech in this country and all that.  However, being free of speech does not mean that we should be void of class.  I smiled when I read Jess's comments about Dutrow the other day.  I was NOT smiling when I read Dutrow's original comments about Curlin.  I wonder why that is?

I will continue to kiss up to Mr. Haskin by thanking him for being the best thing to happen to this sport in a long time...with the sole exception of the fab horses we get to enjoy watching (and loving)!!!

12 Aug 2008 3:15 PM

Steve, not to single myself out but I wondered if you have any info on the surface at SA, maybe you haven't had time to respond to my comment. I may take a drive by there to check it out. I'm just worried like you are. I think that's what the article was about kinda, sorta, maybe?

12 Aug 2008 3:41 PM


Just for reference, I'm the old guy who introduced myself to you at the Hall of Fame ceremonies and thanked you for steering me to Denis of Cork through your Derby workout reports to complete my trifecta hit Derby day.

As far as BB goes, I think why I was disappointed as well as many other BB backers on Haskell day was the "way" BB won as opposed to his other wins. He seemed to win effortlessy in those other wins, not so in the Haskell. To the EYE he did not appear as SUPER as he did in those other races. Howev er, when you analyze the race by the numbers it puts his Haskell up there with his other wins.

I am a fan of most all competitive sports and true sportsmen want to know who the best truly is. Let's hope that both camps will go that route and do what would be the best thing for our wobbly sport, get these two great talents together to see who is best on a particular day. To not do this is to shortchange racing fans everywhere and havent we been shortchanged already enough via the early retirement route that most star horses are put on these last few years of racing?

12 Aug 2008 3:44 PM


It's simple, Curlin would have won in a rout and the Big Ole Browneye would have folded the tent and been pulled up. No way he was catching Street Sense that day.There is no comparison of the talent that they faced in the Derby, Curlin faced far better. Don't forget the fact that Brownie had been in serious training far longer than Curlin at that time of year. Big Brown had real time racing experience and subsequent hard training months longer than what Curlin had by the 1st. Saturday in May of their 3 yr old careers. That makes a huge difference at that stage of their life. Brownie would just be another name if he had been born a year earlier.

12 Aug 2008 4:05 PM


I just have to say how much I enjoy reading your postings, so don't even think about stopping!  I also want to add that if you are a little flumoxed over some of the response you recieved from some bloggers, check out Randy Moss's blog on the NTRA site, written along the same vein that you started this posting.  Certainly not near the amount of posts of this blog,`but similiar responses. I just can't get over the passion this subject seems to evokewhether you are a BB fan or a Curlin fan.

I have been wondering about one thing regarding Mr. Jackson's decision to race Curlin as a four year old, and looking for some feedback here.  He seems to get a lot of credit for bringing Curlin back "for the fans".  I have to think that the ownership issues surrounding Midnight Cry stables and Curlin could have turned off more than a few breeding operations, so it made sense to race him and hope that a year would bring some closure to that whole mess.  This is not meant as censure of Mr. Jackson...I know he has done nothing wrong, butI am not ready to hand him any special kudos for racing the horse this year...even though I am glad that we do get to enjoy Curlin this year.

On another note, as a marketing executive, I think the industry should really take note of these blogs (if they are not already) because they can be pretty telling as to what their consumer and fan base are feeling. Bloggers tend to be your most engaged consumers. Blogging can help "build" engagement. I myself am a little amazed at the amount of blogs by fans of the female persuasion, which I think is terrific. I used to feel all alone. Nothing aginst the guys, but I particularly enjoy reading Monica and Karen's posts.  It just goes to show...chicks dig horses!

And this chick also digs good turf journalism. Thanks again, Steve.

12 Aug 2008 5:18 PM
Steve Haskin

Kelly, as long as you keep misquoting or misinterpreting me, feel free to kiss up to me all you want :) I'm a very insecure person and kissing up to me will work every time :). Now, remember, I'm putting happy faces all over the place.

Brad, I have not heard a word about the Santa Anita surface. I dont think driving there is going to tell you much. We won't know anything about it until horses start racing over it. I will not go by what Santa Anita officials say about it and how great it looks. That wont mean a thing until the meet opens.

So, you noticed my early morning comment. I sleep in increments and you never know when I'll be up and at the computer.

Hi Ken, good to hear from you again. Thank you for mentioning my tout of Denis of Cork so soon after my Monba massacre was brought up. It kind of neutralized that a little for me. It reminded me that I did have something right about this year's Derby. All I'll say about BB and Curlin is what I said before -- Clark Handicap or bust.

12 Aug 2008 5:35 PM
Julie L.

One thing I have noticed among many is that people will bring up the fact that Curlin did not win the Kentucky Derby, if we look back at that time frame Curlin was not a very experienced racehorse by that time as he did not run at age 2 and the fact that he got up for 3rd was pretty impressive for his limited experience and then two weeks later wins the Preakness and then battles it out with a pretty tough female who beat Hard Spun (one of my favorites) in the Belmont while Curlin was only ahead back in second says alot not only for Curlin but for Rags to Riches whom some people have made references to her being "a girl" that Curlin lost to, some of us "girls" can be pretty fast racehorses (Ruffian, Go for Wand, Lady's Secret, Zenyatta) and let's not forget Eight Belles who ran a great race finishing second in the Derby so enough about losing to "a girl" and enough about how a fairly green horse managed a good 3rd in the Derby.

12 Aug 2008 6:08 PM

I always enjoy Steve's comments.  However, there are two things that are bothering me.

1. All this complaining about synthetic tracks puzzles me.  There was as much difference between various dirt tracks (say Keeneland vs. Belmont) as there is between a given synthetic track and a given dirt track.  To complain about a "synthetic track specialist" winning a race makes no more sense than complaining about a "turf specialist" winning a grass race.  All I know is that really great horses don't need excuses - those who do may be good but they aren't great.

2. I just don't get the fascination with Big Brown.  Sure he's a nice horse, but his last five (non-Belmont) Beyers are 106, 106, 109, 100, and 107.  In comparison, as a three year old Tiznow ran Beyers of 103, 107, 115, 114, 119, and 116.  Yet no one talked about him as the second coming of Pegasus.  Likewise, Bernardini put together a string of Beyers such as Big Brown can only dream about.  So yes, BB is a very nice horse, but c'mon, he's not even close to being one for the ages off what he's done so far.

12 Aug 2008 7:29 PM
Steve Haskin

OK, folks, it's time to take this into the blog stable if you wish to continue. I'm about ready to post another one. I will still respond to any remaining normal comments from this blog in the blog stable. I will be away next week, so this next one will be my last until after the Travers. In weeks to come I will do more historical perspectives and a reprint of a seven-year-old story as we get close to 9/11.

Just a quick note to Badger, when you write: "To complain about a "synthetic track specialist" winning a race makes no more sense than complaining about a "turf specialist" winning a grass race," that race I was talking about is the BC Classic for Horse of the Year honors. When they start running the BC Classic on turf, I think you might hear a few complaints, even, perhaps from you.

As for Big Brown -- the second coming of Pegasus?.One for the ages? Care to point out how saying he ran a better race in the Haskell than one might think equates to those lofty descriptions you tossed out?

See, I said I wouldn't respond to those kinds of posts anymore. That's it, my lips and fingertips are sealed. Time to move on to other subjects. Big Brown and Curlin? Never heard of 'em.

12 Aug 2008 8:08 PM


Thank you for the compliment!  I have always loved horses and I love thoroughbreds most.  There is nothing more beautiful than a thoroughbred in full flight.  As it says at the Horse Park "Thou shall fly without wings".

They are wondrous and one of God's greatest creatures.

12 Aug 2008 9:29 PM

Steve: I was a D of C fan early this spring and I remember reading your comments about him. I was crushed when I read he'll be out for 60 days from a hairline fracture. Hope everythings going well and the time off helps him mature somewhat. I always thought he needed more time to get his act together.

13 Aug 2008 10:39 AM
Julie L.

Wanda - I too am a fan of Denis of Cork and believed with maturity he would get only better, let's hope all goes well with him and we will get to see him race again, I think he deserves to race at age 4 so he can show to all just what a good horse he really is.

13 Aug 2008 4:03 PM
Steve Haskin

I sure would have loved to see Denis in the Travers. He was getting better with each race.

13 Aug 2008 5:50 PM
Julie L.

I agree Mr. Haskins.

13 Aug 2008 6:32 PM

All I got to say it hats off and mega kudos to Mr. Jackson for issuing this challenge to Big Brown's owners and his handlers.

Mr Jackson really does care about the sport and the fans of horse racing. He has kept Curlin racing as a four year old and is also considering racing him as a five year old. How rare is that these days?

The guantlet has been thrown down!

This is great stuff ! I reminds me of the challange made by the owner of Seabiscuit, to Sam Riddle, the owner Of War Admiral, for a match race.

So lets see who will be ducking who...

13 Aug 2008 9:02 PM

Big Brown is slated for "soft" surfaces (for whatever reason).  I assume it is soundness issue.  He started on turf, his second race was slated for turf (but moved due to track condition issues), and given the outcome, how could his owners/handlers not get Triple Crown fever?  I remember quite well during the Triple Crown Races (before the Belmont/quarter crack issue), that one route to the Breeders Cup Classic made public (Dutrow?) for Big Brown was the Haskell, the JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP, and then the BC. I remember this quite well as at the time I thought they were taking the same path that Curlin took.  It makes sense to have a race between the Belmont and the JCGC for the horse, you take your horse to the JCGC to meet older horses, and the BC.  A HOY pathway.  Big Brown isn't going to the Woodward or the JCGC because he is off dirt.  Curlin isn't going to the Breeders Cup because of the synthetics.  This was announced some time ago.  I agree with a poster on the other blog that thinks Asmussen may have been "tramautized" by Pyro's performance at Tampa.  And the issue of the brand new track at Santa Anita, and the issue of Curlin needed adjustment time, etc.  I don't think these people are necessarily avoiding each other, they are just looking out for their horses.  Nothing wrong with that.  I certainly don't understand why they need to goad each other though.  Perhaps it is public pressure?  And maybe Mr. Dutrow's comments are getting under people's skin a little?  I'm sure he is enjoying that ;)  .

14 Aug 2008 12:15 PM

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