Behind a Derby Favorite, Tragedy and Redemption

LOUISVILLE — "We're live, babe!"

That's horse trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.'s stable-speak, his way of telling friends he expects his colt Big Brown to win the 134th Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

For Big Brown, undefeated but having raced only three times, the Derby (4 p.m. ET, NBC; post time 6:04) is a chance to validate the hype that has made such an inexperienced colt the favorite among oddsmakers to win the most prestigious event in American horse racing.

For Dutrow, 48, the Derby is all that and much more: a potential validation of an unlikely resurgence, in work and in life.

A decade ago Dutrow was at rock bottom, living in Barn 1 at New York's Aqueduct Racetrack and struggling to catch on as a trainer after a tragedy and a series of missteps. His girlfriend had been murdered in a Schenectady, N.Y., home while their toddler daughter was nearby. He had problems with drugs. And his father - a highly regarded Maryland horse trainer who would die of pancreatic cancer in 1999 - had disowned Dutrow, dismayed at the hard-partying son's inability to make something of himself.


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