Where Should Big Brown Run next?

Just when you think you’ve said all there is to say about Big Brown and/or Curlin, another revelation pops into your head, and the way this volatile soap opera is going, God help you when it does.

This, however, has nothing at all to do with Curlin. It is about the three choices for Big Brown’s prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic – an undetermined grass race at Belmont Park, the Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita, or the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita the same day.

Any one of these races could prove to be a good springboard to the Classic, but here is the way I break them down, looking at them from a strategic and historical viewpoint.

As for the grass race at Belmont: eh. I have no idea what that is, who would run in it, how far it would be, when it would be, and how much good it would do for Big Brown as a Classic prep. As a whole, Eastern-based horses have not fared well going to California for the Breeders’ Cup, especially in the Classic, where Slew o’Gold, Alysheba, Gulch, Cryptoclearance, Afleet, Track Barron, Devil His Due, Colonial Affair, Miner’s Mark, Funny Cide, Evening Attire, Perfect Drift, and Volponi were defeated, with 11 of those 13 horses finishing out of the money.

Again, I have no idea who would show up for the race, but you have to ask yourself if a race like that would adequately prepare Big Brown for the Classic. Frankly, I don’t know. And why subject Big Brown to the Belmont holding barn, where he had such a bad experience before the Belmont?

Next, we come to the Goodwood, which has proven to be an excellent prep for the Classic, but if Big Brown runs in that race then he will go into the Classic without a 1 1/4-mile race after the Triple Crown. So what, you ask? Well, maybe it means absolutely nothing, but let’s look at the 3-year-olds who have won the Classic.

Curlin was coming off the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup against the leading older horse in the country, Lawyer Ron.

Tiznow won the 1 1/4-mile Super Derby in track record time of 1:59 4/5 in September.

Cat Thief ran in the Haskell, the 1 1/4-mile Travers, and then ran against older horses in the Kentucky Cup Classic.

Concern ran in the Travers, the Molson Million, and the Super Derby, giving him two 1 1/4-mile preps.

A.P. Indy ran in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Unbridled ran in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat and Super Derby.

Sunday Silence romped in the Super Derby.

Only Proud Truth in 1985 did not have a 1 1/4-mile prep, but he won the Discovery Handicap seven days before the Classic, and in that year’s Classic there were only eight horses, four of whom who were 3-year-olds.

Now, we come to the Clement Hirsch, run the same day as the Goodwood. Before that race is discussed, let’s go back to the very first Breeders’ Cup in 1984. Could it be that two of the winners that day got it right, and no one since has followed?

In the first Breeders’ Cup race ever run, Chief’s Crown, who had already established himself as the best 2-year-old in the East, did something unusual. After winning the Saratoga Special, Hopeful, and Cowdin, he passed up the Champagne to go to California and prep for the Juvenile in the Norfolk Stakes in order to get a race over the track and acclimate himself to Southern California. Well, Chief’s Crown won the Norfolk and then the Juvenile, earning himself an Eclipse Award. No Eastern-based 2-year-old has since followed that strategy, with major stakes horses Dehere, Cuvee, Chapel Royal, Alysheba, Bet Twice, Gulch, Demon’s Begone, and Polish Navy all going down to defeat in the Juvenile at California tracks. Yes, Favorite Trick won the Juvenile without a prep in California, but he was so far superior to anyone else and wound being voted Horse of the Year that year. The same goes for Skip Away in the Classic. But those are the exceptions to the rule.

Now, let’s go to the final race on that first Breeders’ Cup card, the Classic. Wild Again, a 30-1 shot despite winning of the Meadowlands Cup, made his final prep for the Classic in a one-mile allowance race on the grass at Bay Meadows 12 days before the Breeders’ Cup. After finishing third, beaten two noses at 1-2, he scored one of the gamest victories in the history of the Classic. Once again, no Eastern-based horse has followed that strategy, and you can see the results from the list of beaten horses mentioned earlier.

So, let’s see what all this adds up to: a 1 1/4-mile race, which would appear to be essential from the list of previous 3-year-old classic winners, a grass prep (which is what Big Brown’s connections are looking for), and a race at the Breeders’ Cup site in order to acclimatize. That would seem to add up to the Clement Hirsch.

This is all based solely on history and fitting together all the pieces of the puzzle. I have no idea what the right prep is for Big Brown. But based on what his connections are looking for, and what has transpired in past Breeders’ Cups, everything seems to point to the Clement Hirsch as the most logical.

What if he gets beat, you might ask? After all, he’ll be facing some talented, veteran older turf horses. Well, so what if he gets beat if the ultimate goal is winning the Classic? No one held it against Curlin getting beat on grass by older horses, and no one is going to hold it against Big Brown, as long as he runs a competitive race. The important thing is that he’ll get the bottom he needs, going 1 1/4 miles; he’ll get his race over the turf they’re looking for; and he’ll acclimate himself to Southern California.

Some may say the Santa Anita turf course could be pretty hard. Well, he has to run somewhere and would running over soft turf against not-yet-known competition prepare him for whatever kind of track he’ll get in the Classic? And if New York doesn’t get any rain, the Belmont turf course can be pretty hard in its own right.

On final thought regarding having a 1 1/4-race after the Triple Crown: racing against 3-year-olds in early May, horses can rely on sheer talent more than stamina. But by late October when they’re facing grade I older horses who are already well-seasoned at 10 furlongs, that stamina is going to come more into play. Perhaps that is why so many 3-year-old Breeders’ Cup Classic winners had a 1 1/4-mile race under their belt in August, September, or October. Perhaps they needed that little extra bottom to excel in the Classic.

So, there you have it. I am not in any way endorsing the Clement Hirsch as the right race for Big Brown. I am merely stating the facts, based on history. And it is history, and a little logic, that seems to be pointing to the Hirsch.

58 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Cgriff

Steve - I totally agree.  If he's going to even make the Classic (and I'm not sure he is) - the Clement Hirsch is the best option -for all the reasons you stated as well for the fact that - if my suspicions on his feet are true - the turf is the kindest surface to preserve them.

There is no way, in my opinion, that they can throw together a grass race in New York or on the East Coast that will serve him as an adequate prep.  And even if he does't run against Curlin in the Classic - he's running on the synthetic specialists' home track - so he'll need some bottom under him - there will be more quality competition than he faced in the Haskell.

15 Aug 2008 1:10 PM
Huh

Although this is kinda out of the box I think Big Brown will race in the Super Derby then go to the Classic or go to Japan for the Japan Cup or not even race after the Super Derby.

15 Aug 2008 1:19 PM
JOSE93

I think Big Brown should run in the Goodwood. Synthetic tracks are safer because they're kinder to horses feet - probably more so than grass. If Big Brown runs in the Goodwood we'll all be aware of how he can perform on the Santa Anita synthetic surface. I want to see Big Brown on grass more than anyone but the Goodwood will prepare him better for his target: The Breeders Cup Classic.

15 Aug 2008 1:24 PM
hz hackenbush

The Goodwood has this to recommend it:  If Big Brown runs well over the artificial, the surface will not be a concern for the Classic; if Big Brown does NOT run well over the artificial, maybe, just maybe, we could see a dirt matchup between Big Brown and Curlin in a purse-enhanced Clark Handicap in Kentucky.

15 Aug 2008 1:25 PM
Rebs Policy

The Hirsch would be a lovely choice.

Plus, among other positive reasons for choosing this path, Big Brown will get to race on the new Pro Ride surface for at least 2/5th seconds as he crosses the main track after coming down the hill. <wink>

All joking aside Mr. Haskin, your reasoning is very sound in this matter. I for (at least) one agree & hope that Big Brown (and the holding corporation) follow Horace Greeley's time-honored exhortation before stepping up to the big dance.

Keep On Bloggin' Sir!

"Reb"

15 Aug 2008 1:28 PM
Jen

Big Brown should go Clement Hirsch and face Red Rocks!  That would give us somewhat of a comparison with Curlin!

With Red Rocks scratching from the Sword Dancer, maybe Reddam, being a CA owner, will bring Red Rocks for the Clement Hirsch!

Big Brown could face the horse that beat Curlin and if Brown wins, you would have a sense of who's the best!

Then Curlin would HAVE to come to CA for the BC Classic to defend himself!

15 Aug 2008 1:32 PM
Mike S

If BIG BROWN, or any part of him, including his feet, is "falling apart" I hope they retire him today.

If he's sound then he should have showed up in the Travers, then the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and then the Breeders Cup Classic.

15 Aug 2008 1:34 PM
Skye

I am assuming- at least HOPING - that Michael Ivarone reads your blog

today, Steve!  This plan makes sense!

15 Aug 2008 1:47 PM
Teaser

I agree that it is important to get a race in California but I would prefer the Goodwood. So what that it is an 8th of a mile shorter. The fact that it is on the same surface as the Classic more than offset that. Besides most of the past Horses didn't have to be concern about the Poly, its a whole new ballgame now.

15 Aug 2008 1:51 PM
EasyGoerFan

I still like Steve's idea of having Big Brown and Curlin meet at Churchill Downs in the Clark H.  There would be no excuses for either one of them.

I was new to racing when Easy Goer won the Whitney, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup as his preps for the Breeders' Cup.  I thought that was a normal thing for a talented 3yo to do.  How wrong I was!!

15 Aug 2008 2:09 PM
EKrueg

I think the Clement Hirsch would be a logical place for him to run. He is indeed talented but has yet to run against older seasoned racehorses. I'm not saying he can't do it he's already proven history doesn't mean much to him so if he wants to win the classic he should come very prepared.

15 Aug 2008 2:14 PM
mg

Steve - Well reasoned. The Hirsch would be the perfect scenario as his prep for the Classic, however that race won't be filled with the under achieving three year old crop he's been facing. You're also correct that Curlin followed the JCGC en route to last years Breeders Cup. Therefore he could kill two birds with one stone - he could show up at the Gold Cup and dispose of the horse that IEAH and Dutrow seem to feel is so far below Big Brown's talent level, get his mile and a quarter prep, and head for the "Plastic Classic" with a great foundation.

And after getting dusted by Curlin he can run off the board at Santa Anita, as that field certainly won't be filled with three year old mediocrity either.

15 Aug 2008 2:22 PM
Chris

I wish Big Brown would go to the Woodward so Divine Park could beat them both.

15 Aug 2008 2:31 PM
Pam

Hello Steve,

Shipping Big Brown to CA to train and acclimate in plenty of time for the two preps (CH and Goodwood)you mentioned, really makes sense for all concerned. Dutrow, knowing his horse, is then in good position to make the call as to which of the races (and the racing surfaces) seem to be shaping up for BB.

Best,

Pam

15 Aug 2008 3:00 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, the Clement Hirsch does make the most sense - he'd be running on turf, the timing is good and he would have time to acclimate to California tracks. That being said, what about the Northern Dancer in Woodbine? It would be fitting for a horse with Northern Dancer so close on both sides, the timing on it is close to what IEAH is saying they want and it's 1 1\2 miles. Big Brown, other than the Belmont, has always looked like he wants to keep running. Plus, it's close enough I could go see him before he retires. LOL!

15 Aug 2008 3:01 PM
Steve Haskin

Running in the Goodwood makes sense for many of the reasons stated. But as one trainer once told me when asked about his horse coming to the Derby without even a work over the track: "If he doesnt like the track I don't want to know." That is the philosophy of lots of trainers. They dont want their hopes dashed before the big race. Let's say Big Brown runs in the Goodwood and doesn't run very well. Then what? They're not going to pack up and go home. There's nothing else to run him in. So, they'd run him in the Classic no matter what he did in the Goodwood. This way, they'd get an idea by running on the turf and get a 1 1/4-mile race under him. If he wins the Hirsch, that's a major feather in his cap right there, and all wouldnt be lost even if he doesnt win the Classic. How many Derby winners win a grade I on the grass against older horses the same year? Not many. So, what the heck, the Hirsch is a win-win situation. A loss is not going to hurt him and he still could use it as prep for the Classic. A bad race in the Goodwood, however, will leave them in no-man's land, and they will have no confidence going into the Classic. If he wins, he still has to come back and do it again stretching out another eighth of a mile without a 10-furlong race under him since early May.

15 Aug 2008 3:17 PM
Bradgm

They run him in the Hirsch, we have one of our freak rainstorms (well not so freak they missed what 11 days last year) they take it off the Turf run it on the brand new synthetic track he doesn't like the track. NOW WHAT?

Your chance for hype and Pub is gone everyone starts focusing on who else might win the race, challengers coming out of the woodwork.

They run him in a manufactured turf race at Belmont, he gets tons of publicity, the big redemption. Tons more hype and publicity leading up to the Classic. Plus, what happened to the JCGC being too close to the Classic, swear I read that somewhere. Course I've read so much about this that the photos in my photographic memory are starting to fade like a bad polaroid. Or the worse case scenario for them, the colts feet give him trouble on the synthetic track leading up to the Classic and what then?(the issue with Turfway and Del Mar last year was the accumulation of fiber compacting into the hoof, causing soreness and well, I guess similar to ladies 'pumps' or the built up shoes for a horse with laminitis)Don't mean to seem cynical, not my nature. Guess I should just say who knows and , let's just wait for the Classic since Iavarone said it's the only race that matters.

15 Aug 2008 4:16 PM
MIKE RELVA

I THINK BB SHOULD RUN HIS NEXT RACE ON GRASS.

15 Aug 2008 4:20 PM
Patrick

One other problem with the Goodwood is that the new Santa Anita track will still be relatively untested. Synthetic or not, I don't think Ivarone and co. will want to put Big Brown's problematic feet on the stuff at SA until they have solid evidence of how other horses respond to running early in the Oak Tree meet.

15 Aug 2008 4:22 PM
Sherrie

If they are really serious about putting Big Brown on the lawn, why not just keep him there? Prep in the Hirsch, race him in the Breeders Cup turf. If he actually won that he would stand a good chance of being Horse of the Year without the Classic. Of course doing that we would find out how good the Europeans are. I have a feeling that he would get a good whipping from them since those horses are probably a little better than those he met in his maiden win.

Not actually sure why Curlin's group does not think he will like the synthetic? Is it because Pyro ran so bad in the Blue Grass?

As for the great history of the Super Derby, which has seen some  fine horseflesh, those days as a Classic prep are most likely over since they killed it by shortening the race from a mile and a quarter to a mile and an eighth.

15 Aug 2008 4:49 PM
BIGHORSEFAN

Patrick,

That's assuming you can tell something in the 19 racing days leading up to the BC and another colt has a quarter crack or BB comes and trains on it for a couple weeks. So what does

BB do if the track proves problematic? Not run, run in the Turf race hold out a futile hope that they fix it (like they did last year ha.) What the focus needs to be like Steve said, either you want a race over the surface or you don't care and take your chance, or you want a race that's the same distance as the Classic.

15 Aug 2008 5:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Patrick, that is an excellent point. I wish I had thought of it :)

15 Aug 2008 5:13 PM
Huh

I agree with everyone here that the Goodwood is an awesome option for Big Brown but what leads me to believe he'll go in the Super Derby then the Japan Cup Dirt is because his connections are afraid of the other top 3yos on the west coast (Colonel John, Tres Borrachos), the west coast older horses (Tiago, Well Armed, Go Between), 3yos on the east (Macho Again, Pyro), eastern older horses (Commentator, Curlin). So they'll go with a field of unproven 3yos (My Pal Charlie, Proud Kentuckian) and a bunch of foreign horses they don't know about.

15 Aug 2008 5:17 PM
The Deacon

I would have liked to see BB in the Travers Stakes. It is arguebly one of the most prestigious races in North America. Winning the 1 million dollar Haskell obviously is important, but it pales in comparison to the Travers. It is a tall order to ask BB to win the Classic on a new surface, especially never having run on it. Why not the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, folks are saying that the racing is true and fair, and look what he would be running against, and he would then be tested against older horses. Keep up the great writing Steve..............

15 Aug 2008 5:27 PM
Draynay

I think any turf race will be great and will show just how talented Big Brown really is.  I think we forget everything this horse has accomplished with limited starts because of his poor feet.  I think when everything is all said and done the truth will come out about just how poor his feet really are.

15 Aug 2008 5:37 PM
DANYLSON

STEVE, I AGREE WITH YOUR COMMENTS, THE CLEMENT HIRSCH IS THE RACE. 1/1/2 MILE,REDEMPTION AT THAT DISTANCE AND IF RED ROCKS RUNS, EVEN IF BIG BROWN LOSES IT WOULD NOT TARNISH HIS LEGACY PLUS IT WOULD BE A GOOD RACE TO GET SOME STAMINA IN HIM FOR THE CLASSIC... HOPE BROWN'S CONNECTIONS THINK ABOUT ALL THESE PRO FACTORS.

15 Aug 2008 7:39 PM
dr marv

To Easy Goer Fan, yeah, you're exactly right! Still blows my mind! Not only did EG win FOUR races after the Belmont and before the BCC, but 3 were against older horses and 2 were at longer distances than today, to boot !!!

Gosh!

He beat 3 yr olds in the 10 furlong Travers, then 3 times beat older horses: in Whitney, the Woodward, and the Jockey Club GC. And the Woodward then was longer at 10f as was the Jockey Club, at 12f. Unbelievable! To think, after the JCGC, he ran great but couldnt catch Sunday Silence.  

Alas, that seminal race led to horses running less often and races being shortened- the very next yeat the Woodward was shortened to today's 9f and the JCGC was shortened to today's 10f. If EG could have just caught SS at Gulfstream, I really believe trainers would have run their horses more often at longer distances- the opposite of today's babied horses. Sigh. Too bad.  

15 Aug 2008 11:49 PM
EasyGoerFan

dr marv, amen to that!  

I read an article before the 1989 BC where Charlie Whittingham said Sunday Silence had a huge advantage in the Classic because Easy Goer was having to cut back from twelve furlongs to ten in a matter of three weeks.  Whittingham was proven to be correct by a diminishing neck.  And, as you pointed out, the distance was changed the very next year to make it a better BC prep.  

What are the concerns with the new Santa Anita surface?  Jess Jackson says he doesn't want Curlin to run on an untested track.  Is that why he's not pointing toward the BC?

16 Aug 2008 8:38 AM
UCLinden

Excerpt's from recent news articles ........

Iavarone mentioned three options - a turf stakes Sept. 13 or 14 that Belmont would have to create to lure Big Brown; the 1 1/8-mile Massachusetts Handicap Sept. 20 on the dirt at Suffolk Downs; and the 1¼-mile Clement L. Hirsch Sept. 27 on grass at Santa Anita, site of the Breeders' Cup four weeks later

                         ***************************************************

Big Brown’s people intend to return to the turf, a surface over which the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner won a maiden race here on the last day of the 2007 season, and the New York Racing Association will more than willingly create the opportunity – an overnight stakes at Belmont.

Imagine that. IEAH not only ducks the best dirt horse in the world – a horse, by the way, who also has more turf credentials than Big Brown based on a Grade I placement – and goes in an unlisted, ungraded and as yet unheard of grass race created from thin air in which he will face, if anyone, perhaps three or four allowance-class grass horses.

There is no way to explain with any degree of logic why the winner of two legs of the Triple Crown and the Haskell Invitational would be absent from any race of consequence prior to the Breeders’ Cup – which at this stage of the year is limited to the Travers, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup – and run instead in a meaningless, manufactured race on grass.

This will do nothing to elevate the diminished image of Big Brown and much to stamp his connections as posers with money – neither horsemen nor sportsmen. If this is “what’s right for the horse,” then retirement would be the better option.

16 Aug 2008 9:06 AM
Hank

Great article Mr Haskin, Always enjoy your articles, but on this one I totally disagree with you, BB is going to race some place where he will be 1-9, with no chance of losing, he can't in any shape form or matter lose another race, so he is being packaged and gift wrapped for the breeding shed to get his big stud fee for anyone foolish enough to pay it. I see him,going to Penn Derby, GR2, but a million. You know I believe that the horse he beat in Haskell had just finished third in an opitional claimer ran same type of race led to inside 1/16 pole and collapsed two horsed ran by him, same as Haskell, They have been offered chances to meet Curlin it isn't going to happen, sorry to say. Fans don't count here. 

16 Aug 2008 10:42 AM
mg

UCLinden,

Your comments are spot on.

It would seem obvious that BB's connections are protecting the breeding shed by building his reputation by another effort on the grass. Would they also like the unwritten race be restricted to three year olds as well ? I'm not knocking Big Brown as he has proven himself the undisputed champion of the 3 yr. old division. Although while the three year old crop has proven itself to be quite mediocre he can't control his competition. He is the Derby & Preakness winner and deserves the respect attached to that, however, his connections deserve little. By continuing to belittle a truly fine horse in Curlin, while making no effort to confront him, speaks poorly of IEAH and Dutrow. Their circuitous route to the plastic classic one would suspect is another attempt to dodge any serious competition until the BC Classic where they are willing to roll the dice on a unknown synthetic surface with a built in excuse, then off to stud duty. They still will face a field of nice horses in the Classic, not the under achievers he has been meeting all year, but they will avoid the confrontation with Curlin on dirt which they want no part of.  

16 Aug 2008 11:04 AM
Steve Haskin

Hank, after the Haskell, Dutrow mentioned the Pennsylvania Derby as a race they were seriously considering. But they can't run him in that race after saying they're not running in the Woodward because it's too soon after the Haskell and too far from the Classic when the Pa. Derby is only two days after the Woodward. So I cant see any way they would run him there.

16 Aug 2008 11:23 AM
Ekrueg

I also agree with Hank in Big Brown will probably run against again a mediocre crop of three year olds and run them into the ground. And with him running on the turf he's won a Maiden on turf not a grade 1 event with expert turf runners. I'm curious to see how he'll shape up to the likes of Red Rocks or Better talk now. They love U.S. turf. Of course once the breeders cup is over Big Brown will be retired and thats the end of that. Also a quick question, I was reading that Jess Jackson was considering running Curlin again next year?

16 Aug 2008 11:38 AM
MonicaV

I just have a feeling thar Big Brown won't make it to the classic.

I really think his feet are worse than his connections are saying.  They challenge Curlin to go to the BC to race there when they could race against him before the BC.  I don't think his feet are up to the stress of dirt, maybe they are hoping the new surface at SA will be kind to his feet.  Also, many people have bashed KD for holding BB back at the start of the Haskell when I think it was done purposely to put the least amount of stress on those hoofs.  A quick start requires a lot of pounding on those hoofs.  Also, the workout on grass before the Haskell was telling.  They don't want to run against Curlin on dirt.  In my opinion, it's his feet.

16 Aug 2008 11:52 AM
The Deacon

How about a 4 horse match race between Curlin, Big Brown, Zenyatta, and Benny the Bull. Run the race at Churchill Downs and the distance would be 1 1/16 so Benny the Bull would have a legitimate chance. This would settle this speculation once and for all. Televise it on national TV and this would also get the fans excited again.

16 Aug 2008 12:27 PM
BIGHORSEFAN

Does the synthetic surface help or hurt a horse with bad feet? Turf may but there's been lots of questions about the fibers packing into the hoof. The assertion that the horse has bad feet but we won't find out how bad until he retires, well anyone can say whatever they want at that point and there's no way to dispute it. It'll just cause more controversy about why they ran the colt on such bad feet. Also, Cigars documented bad feet didn't stop him from setting records. The colt was probably run on turf for a reason by Reynolds, the trainer who put the bottom on him. If he goes in the Hirsch and wins that may help his breeding profile go back up(that industry is feeling the pinch)if he goes onto the synthetic and loses,with his 'bad' feet, inability to run on synthetic his potential tag of sire of horses of the future as we've discussed, would be in serious jeopardy. It's fun to speculate but bottom line it's a crap shoot all the way around.

16 Aug 2008 1:26 PM
Bad Brad

Hi Steve,

I agree with your ideas but am curious about the distance of 1 1/4  in the Hirsch on the turf and BC Classic on the main track which will be synthetic.  Since turf races are usually run differently than main track ( dirt and synthetic )  in that the horses go at a much slower pace early on then basically sprint from the top of the strech to the finish would BB gain the same stamina effect than the  shorter distance Goodwood or any other race shorter than 1 1/4 on a main track ?  

To all of Steve's fans :  If you get a chance to meet him.... DO IT!!!  I have  visited with him several times in person and he is just as pleasant in person as he is  the internet .... one class act !  

Having said that , in order to eliminate the Big Brown drama on and off the track..... Mr. Steve Haskin, you have just been named owner , trainer AND jockey of Big Brown !!!  

16 Aug 2008 1:53 PM
Bradgm

Different Brad but similar ideas. The configuration of the SA turf track??

Never met Steve, have his books, maybe at the BC if he comes.

The total human connection to BB, there's a plan. Of course he's already had an offer to be taught surfing, add to that, trainer, jockey owner and author he's going to be too busy to do much of anything else.

16 Aug 2008 2:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Brad, with comments like that you don't sound bad to me. As for your question, the pace in California turf races over that firm course usually is much faster than in the turf races back east. And Big Brown shouldnt be sitting behind a slow pace even if there was one. He should assure an honest pace, thus getting some bottom and fitness out of it and not just running the last quarter mile.

And I'll pass on the owner, trainer, and jockey...and especially the surfing, Bradgm. I'm not a beach person; never liked the feel of sand on my feet. Anyway, I'm an Atlantic Ocean guy. I don't know what denizens of the deep lurk at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

16 Aug 2008 4:02 PM
Secretation

Steve,  It's not what lurks at the bottom of the Pacific, it's what comes up to the surface that will get you.

As for Big Brown, he reminds me of a protected heavyweight boxer whose manager does everything he can to get him a title shot while taking little to no risk.  Curlin's connections are trying to stretch him as much as they can to prove his greatness, while BB's connections are trying to make sure this deal with Three Chimneys works out well.  Let's not kid ourselves, if BB doesn't bring in the dough in the shed, TC will be hesitant to shell out for another IEAH horse. On the other hand, if they can get him some full books for the next few years, they may be willing to bring in other big name IEAH prospects.  Whether we like it or not, Iavarone is finding some really good horses and having a good relationship with a farm like Three Chimneys couldn't be a bad thing for him.

By the way, I'm not knocking either Three Chimneys or IEAH.  I'm just an outsider who sees them as sort of the new face of racing/breeding and this Big Brown deal is either going to bring them up another notch or leave them with egg on their faces.

I don't know about the horses, but Jess Jackson should get some kind of award for what he's done this year.

16 Aug 2008 4:53 PM
Steve Haskin

Three Chimneys a new face in breeding? Maybe 25 years ago. So, do you really think Three Chimneys is going to have egg on their face for buying the breeding rights to a Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Florida Derby, and Haskell winner who ran the fastest Thoro-Graph number in the history of the Kentucky Derby? I'll take that kind of egg on my face any day.

16 Aug 2008 5:20 PM
Tiznowbaby

I'm curious to see how that stud deal works out for TC. How much are they going to charge? The colt has won impressively, but he's not a son of Storm Cat or A.P. Indy, so what kind of fee are they going to hang on him? Tiznow won 2 BC Classics, and how many years did he go for $30,000? Can you make your $50 million back at that fee? It will be interesting to watch the next five years play out.

16 Aug 2008 6:06 PM
Girl Power

For what it's worth, here's my opinion.  Big Brown's objective is to win the BC Classic over the synthetic surface.  Speed is emphasized on dirt, whereas STAMINA is emphasized on synthetic.  As everyone knows, his training regimen has been disrupted due to his propensity for quarter cracks.  If they are indeed going to risk this horse, a horse which many, many experts believe has real physical problems, then they must build up his stamina.  He needs to come to California NOW and train during the next 2.5 months over the Hollywood Park synthetic/turf tracks.  Forget about the Del Mar track, they changed the maintenance schedule and now horses are dying.  If all goes well, and the quarter cracks do not rear their ugly heads, then he can showcase his turf skills in the Clement Hirsch Turf and god willing show us that late kick to trounce the field, which we all became accustomed to earlier in the year.  This in turn would be followed by a glorious victory in the BC Classic..... culminating in Horse Of the Year honors.  (I can dream can't I?)

16 Aug 2008 9:28 PM
russell maiers

He should run over the surface he will run in the Classic. He has to win or run very good in the classic or world cup before he can expect Curlin to notice. Hes done very, very good. Until he runs really good or wins one of the big 2 against older horses hes a great three year old who raced three year olds. I would have him give up the eighth mile for practice on the surface.

16 Aug 2008 11:00 PM
MonicaV

I'm sure Big Brown will have plenty of mares booked to him.  He's the hottest stallion prospect.

His only shortcoming is his feet and hopefully he will get mares that will counter that trait.  It's really too bad about his feet.  Boundary had the same problems.

17 Aug 2008 1:44 AM
dr marv

Easy Goer Fan,

Yup, 12 f to 10 f off 3 weeks. I think the article you read was in Sports Illustrated, I read the same one. Nice to know there are others out there who follow this as closely as we do! It's been 19 yrs but we still remember the finest details!

Also amazing were(and underrated)was Giants Causeway and Sakhee, who both came super close to winning the BCC coming off 12f races- on the turf to boot!

The thing with the surface is that was just placed - no one knows how it will play. Also, Jesse Jackson might go for the Japan Cup Dirt in December, and the BCC would give Curlin too little time.  

17 Aug 2008 4:03 AM
Huh

Secretation:

Three Chimneys has had horses like Seattle Slew, Smarty Jones and Silver Charm stand there so Big Brown would not be their first big horse.

17 Aug 2008 8:55 AM
MonicaV

Three Chimneys is a wonderful farm.  I've been there a couple of times, even got to see Slew breed a mare from Aregentina in 1988.  They have some awesome stallions there.

17 Aug 2008 12:35 PM
Bradgm

Steve, like we said, you've been swimming with the sharks on these blogs, correct there is no sand. Good thing the BC isn't at Del Mar for your sake, right on the ocean pretty much.

I can't help but think Three Chimney's is a little nervous, the sales seem in a bit of trouble. Who knows what the BB deal behind the deal really is.

17 Aug 2008 1:31 PM
joe

I first visited Three Chimneys in 1996 and they had champions Seattle Slew, his sons Slew O' Gold and Capote, and the first BC Classic winner Wild Again in one barn.  My second visit, in 1999, Silver Charm had just arrived.  I believe Big Brown's feet are keeping him off of the dirt, and the owners would never again run on Belmont's(aka Big Sandy) dirt anyway.

17 Aug 2008 3:29 PM
Vincent

I think most of you are missing that unfortunately horse racing is simply not the same game it used to be. Those examples from the past are true, but now it is mainly a breeding game in an industry that is spiraling downward.   Thoroughbred horse racing has had many opportunities to lift itself back into the spotlight but usually due to lack of uniformity it shoots itself in the foot from account wagering to blackedout signals on some of racing's biggest days and now horses not running in the Breeders' Cup because half of the industry decided to change the surface. Try explaining to an audience that only shows up a few times a year the horses they remember from the previous year aren't running because horses don't run more than a year (Street Sense or soon-to-be Big Brown), but one of the few that does, Curlin, isn't running because of a new surface. Not the way to market a sport. As for Big Brown and his connections, they are trying to save face and live up to a $50 million breeding deal. The best way to do that is to run an easy race on the grass against no one and take a shot in the BC Classic. Win or lose, their okay because they will blame it on the poly-track if he loses. If he wins, great because years from now they will remember him as a BC Classic winner and not that he didn't run against Curlin. The fact remains he defeated a below average three-year-old crop in the first two legs, did whatever in the Belmont and then was life and death against one of the worst fields Haskell fields in decades. Thank god it wasn't my $50 million they spent. You bring up horses from the past and its a shame that people want to put Big Brown in the same breath as Curlin, Holy Bull, Cigar, Easy Goer and many others. But like a said in the beginning, horse racing used to be different. It has always been about making money, but owners and trainers of the past took pride in the races they ran in, their horses and were honored to win such races. Look at it now, you still have great trainers and owners but the pride for horse racing for many them isn't there. Their too interested in using and disgracing the sport to line their pockets. I mean Dutrow and co., besides degrading other trainers (John Servis and Smarty Jones) and horses (Curlin), even demeaned the sport by saying he thought the Kentucky Derby was as easy as winning any other race and he didn't think it was tough to win. He demeaned the very race that catapulted him to a $50 million deal. Nice. You can argue and think Big Brown is great (now most of you are making excuses because of his feet -- I guess the champions of the past never had problems to overcome...LOL) and everyone has an opinion, but please do not compare him to the champions of the past he couldn't even carry their feedbag.

17 Aug 2008 7:30 PM
Wanda

I hate to say this but I'm getting tired of all the what ifs and whens with this horse. Just find a spot and run him so he's ready for BC and no excuses that he's been off to long or it was really hot or they boxed him in or.....

17 Aug 2008 8:05 PM
BIGHORSEFAN

Vincent, yes horse racing is suffering, but have you looked in the stands at a MLB game lately? College basketball teams that once filled their gyms, can't do it anymore either. Whereas I agree with most of what you said I'm surprised they passed the edit, didn't figure we'd go down the dusty Dutrow road again.

Wanda, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! etc,

18 Aug 2008 12:15 AM
JordanA

Wanda, It won't help. It'll be the why's where's, what if's, how comes win or lose. It will last until the new crop of 3 year olds start running and even then who knows.

18 Aug 2008 12:25 AM
MonicaV

Hey Wanda,

Glad to see you around and I totally agree with you!

18 Aug 2008 1:05 AM
draynot
The Breeders Cup as a whole keeps getting more watered down almost everyday it seems. How many over the past weekend made it known they will not be going to the Cup and racing over the fake crap? The list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. What a collosal blunder they made giving the Cup to SA two years in a row knowing they would be running over this crap.

I'm hoping in the future that they all wake up and go back to dirt. Maybe use the fake stuff to train over but it is clear what a mistake it has been to give the Breeders Cup to anyone without conventional dirt. This years edition should have no bearing on HOY or Divisional Champs outside of the Turf Division. The best aren't even going to show up, they have found races elsewhere.

18 Aug 2008 8:01 AM
scholar

I think BB will run next in the Goodwood...it's a good race for the following reasons: The race is being run on synthetic..if he loses, they can blow off the BC Classic and issue a challenge to Curlin to meet him in the Clark Handicap, and few people will remember the Goodwood synthetic debacle if he redeems himself in the Clark...or they will simply chose to retire him, citing his poor feet.  If he wins the Goodwood, they are emboldened to run in the Classic, or (again) retire him, citing poor feet (and never having to meet the very best of the crop that is avoiding the BC Classic).  I agree with many of the bloggers, that a $50 million stud deal is looming large in every decision that they make...this is not about the sport, this is about protecting a valuable investment..for better or for worse, of course.  But I wouldn't be too hard on BB's connections...no one can go into this without a degree of pragmatism, even Curlin's connections thought twice about continuing with an Arc de Triomphe campaign, when it looked like the horse was very vulnerable on turf...there is a limit to everyone's risk-taking....$50 million can hold a lot of people back!  And, I think there is still a big chance that this horse will never race again....got a feeling that his feet are not doing well, and he can retire right now on a winning note.  He's still the Derby winner.  That trumps anything else that he does, short of winning the BC Classic, or beating Curlin somewhere.  If that's not in the cards, then retirement is the best move.

18 Aug 2008 9:28 AM
Wanda

I can hardly remember a classic 3 year old managed the way this one is.In my opinion it seems like their second guessing every move they make with this horse. He was on track thru the classics until the Belmont then the comeback running a gutsy race lugging out.I still think he's foot sore and they are buying time hoping they can get his feet half right for BC. They don't know where to run him but they know they have to run him somewhere in a soft spot so he has no chance of getting beat. It's august and some of these other 3 year olds are catching up. They could hook a bear next time out. We've all seen 3 year olds improve big time late in the summer so it could get interesting.

Hey MonicaV I took a road trip to see family and Larry(the old horse we raised).Did some fencing around the new barn they built and got a sunburn.

18 Aug 2008 10:17 AM

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