Big Brown works out at Churchill Downs before the Derby
Big Brown in the post parade for the Kentucky Derby
Big Brown in the winner's circle after the Kentucky Derby
Big Brown in the post parade for the Preakness
Big Brown parades after winning the Preakness. Notice the white spot just behind his left front leg on his side in this and the next photo. Some say it is a lucky spot, some a birthmark. It is unusual in any case.
Big Brown gets a bath after the Preakness
The eyes of the racing world will be at Belmont Park at 6:50PM ET on Saturday, June 7, as Big Brown, a Kentucky-bred son of Boundary out of the Nureyev mare Nien, enters the starting gate in his attempt to rewrite the history books as racing's 12th Triple Crown winner, and the first horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes in three decades, as well as the first undefeated Triple Crown winner since Seattle Slew in 1977.
Big Brown at the Pimlico Stakes barn
Big Brown was foaled at Monticule Farm in Lexington, the breeding operation owned and operated by Dr. Gary Knapp, who also owns Equix, a business which assesses the athletic potential of Thoroughbreds by using biomechanics, and Case The Race, a handicapping service which uses biomechanics as a key factor. Currently, Monticule Farm is a 630-acre property with 20 broodmares. Stakes-winning turf horse Prussian, who set most of the pace in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, was also foaled there. Florida pinhooker Eddie Woods purchased Big Brown as a yearling in the fall of 2006 for $60,000, then sold him in April of 2007 for $190,000 to Paul Pompa Jr.
Like 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, Big Brown started his career on turf, winning his debut at Saratoga on September 3, 2007, a 1 1/16 mile event where he defeated 9 rivals by 11 1/4 lengths in gate-to-wire fashion, with jockey Jeremy Rose aboard for original owner Paul Pompa and trainer Patrick Reynolds. Soon after that victory, IEAH Stables purchased a majority stake in Big Brown, and transferred the bay colt to the barn of Richard Dutrow Jr.
Due to foot problems, Big Brown did not return to the racetrack until March 5, entered in a $41,500 allowance race at Gulfstream Park on the turf. However, the race was taken off the turf and instead contested at 1 mile on the main track. Dutrow decided to leave him in the race rather than scratch, and Big Brown delivered, stalking the early pace under new jockey Kent Desormeaux, then taking off in the stretch to an impressive 12 3/4 length win over 4 rivals. This immediately put the horse on track for the Kentucky Derby, however, he did not have any graded stakes earnings which are needed to draw into the field. On March 29, Dutrow entered him in the Florida Derby, where he drew the very unfavorable outside post in a field of 12; no horse had ever won from that far out at the 1 1/8 mile distance since Gulfstream Park was renovated. Bettors still felt he had an edge over his 11 rivals, sending him off as the 3-2 favorite. Desormeaux gambled, sending him to the front despite taking the clubhouse turn very wide, but it didn't matter, as he cruised to a 5 length win.
Because of his success from an unfavorable wide post at Gulfstream, Dutrow did not hesitate when choosing the outside 20 post for the Kentucky Derby. Sent off at 5-2, Big Brown showed that he could be rated, as Desormeaux eased him over to stalk the pace out 4 wide the whole way. At the top of the stretch, he poked his head in front and drew off through the stretch, pulling away from the ill-fated Eight Belles to win by 4 3/4 lengths. The performance was so dominating that, when entries were taken for the Preakness, only 1 other horse that came out of the Derby stayed in. 11 new shooters lined up at the gate in Baltimore, but they felt the same result as the Derby field. Sent off at 1-5 this time, Desormeaux again stalked the pace until the top of the lane and then Big Brown unleashed his run, winning by 5 1/4 lengths in hand.
History had held up well in the Triple Crown through the 1990's, but the current decade has been one where several key "jinxes" had been broken, including Big Brown winning the Derby in just his fourth lifetime start, from post 20 which had not won since 1929. Will the 30-year jinx of the Triple Crown finally be broken?
The IEAH Stables members celebrate in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. In the front are Paul Pompa Jr. (holding the trophy) with Richard Shiavo and Michael Iavarone to his right.
Big Brown is currently owned by IEAH Stables with original owner Paul Pompa Jr. still holding a minority interest. IEAH Stables is the racing subsidiary of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Inc., headed by Michael Iavarone and Richard Schiavo, two New York natives and veterans of Wall Street. IEAH was formed in 2003 as a racing company that buys and breeds Thoroughbreds and then organizes and manages partnerships in those horses. IEAH owns about 70 horses, 50 in training, including their stable stars of 2007, Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville and sprinters Benny The Bull and Shaggy Mane. Paul Pompa Jr. is also a New York native and owns a trucking company, Truck-Rite Corp. in Brooklyn. His company won a UPS contract so he named his horse "Big Brown" to celebrate the deal. After the Florida Derby, UPS signed a marketing deal with the owners, with jockey Kent Desormeaux wearing the logo on his pants, and the company's charitable foundation donated $10,000 to the Thoroughbred Charities of America's Eight Belles Memorial Fund. When he retires, Big Brown will go to Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, after a reported $50 million deal was signed during Preakness week.
New York native Iavarone said of possibly winning the Triple Crown at home, "Bringing it back to New York has, as I said, is just a dream come true. New York has been captured by the moment even leading up to the Preakness. Now I expect the momentum to only build from here. Kent, myself and Rick, Rich, all, from New York area, and it's going to be a fun three weeks." Pompa said he entered the racing game in 2000 because "I needed an outlet. I needed some action. It's fun to be me right now."
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. at the Alibi Breakfast on the Thursday before the Preakness.
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. is a native of Hagerstown, Maryland, and a son of famed east-coast trainer Dick Dutrow, who led the nation with 352 wins in 1975. Richard Jr. assisted his father from the age of 16, then going out on his own in the late 1990's when his father decided to move back to Maryland. Like many trainers, he earned his reputation in the claiming game, starting off with a one-horse stable. Soon, stakes winners came out of the Dutrow barn including such Grade 1 winners as 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Silver Train, and 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville, owned by IEAH Stables. He has won several training titles at both Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack. Dutrow's brother Anthony trains at Philadelphia Park and Delaware Park. His NYRA stable is based at Aqueduct, but since he wants the horse to get acclimated with Belmont Park, Big Brown will be stabled in the barn of trainer Bobby Frankel, a long time friend of the Dutrow family. Interestingly, Frankel gave Big Brown the former stall of Empire Maker, who won the 2003 Belmont Stakes denying Funny Cide the Triple Crown.
Dutrow said of the Belmont Stakes, "I don't think that I'm afraid of anything. We're going to point him to the race, try to get him there the best way we can, and we're going to be excited and just be hoping for the best. I'm not afraid of a mile and a half. I'm not afraid of 5 weeks, 3 races. The horse just keeps impressing, anytime they asked him for anything, he's been way ahead of us. He's waiting on us."
Jockey Kent Desormeaux during the post parade for the Preakness.
Louisiana-born jockey Kent Desormeaux is well-known in American racing, and has three Kentucky Derbies to his credit. Along with Big Brown, he was aboard Real Quiet in 1998, who was denied the Triple Crown by a nose to Victory Gallop in the Belmont, and rode 2000 winner Fusaichi Pegasus, the $4 million colt who was the first Derby winning favorite since Spectacular Bid in 1979. Fusaichi Pegasus was already touted as a Triple Crown candidate after that win, but a wet track in the Preakness tired him out allowing Red Bullet to pass him in the stretch. Desormeaux started in his native Louisiana but soon moved to Maryland then California where he made his mark. In 1989 he smashed the record for wins in one year with 598, then in 1995 he was the youngest rider, at age 25, to win 3000 races, breaking the record set by Bill Shoemaker, Sandy Hawley, and Chris McCarron. His success earned him his induction into racing's Hall of Fame in 2004. Just last year he switched his tack from Southern California to New York.
Desormeaux said, "This is the best horse I've ever ridden. I've ridden all the horses across the country. (Casino Drive) is the only one that can even entertain Big Brown's stride. It's going to be exciting. He can run. He's a nice horse. It's another 1/4 mile. You know, there's so many hurdles. Can't wait to find out what happens but that's a cold exacta."
Curlin's Future Poll
Curlin is going to the Woodward at Saratoga next. For later in the year, should he skip the Breeders' Cup in favor of another big event such as the Japan Cup or Hong Kong Cup?
Oxbow upsets in the Preakness - Oxbow led the entire way in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Pimlico with Itsmyluckyday second and Mylute third. Heavy favorite Orb made a mild move to finish fourth. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Preakness undercard stakes results - There were 7 other stakes on the card, highlighted by the Dixie Stakes (G2) won by Skyring and the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) won by Summer Applause. Get the results, charts, and photos for 6 of the races here.
Fiftyshadesofhay wins the Black-Eyed Susan - Fiftyshadesofhay just got up to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday at Pimlico by a neck over Marathon Lady with favorite Emollient 6th. On the undercard, Last Gunfighter won the Pimlico Special (G3). Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Analyzing the Preakness Stakes Contenders for 2013 - My annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Preakness winner. The big surprise is that Kentucky Derby winner Orb is not in the top group!
Orb wins the Kentucky Derby - Orb was far back early but took the lead in the stretch and drew off to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 2 1/2 lengths over longshot Golden Soul and Revolutionary. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
More Kentucky Derby Photos - More photos from the day including more of Orb, the trophy, the roses, Martina McBride, and lots of mud.
Kentucky Derby undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Derby day including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) won by 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan and the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) won by Aubby K. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Princess of Sylmar upsets in the Kentucky Oaks - She rallied from far back to win the Kentucky Oaks by a half length over Beholder and Unlimited Budget, while favorite Dreaming of Julia was fourth. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Kentucky Oaks undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Oaks day including the La Troienne Stakes (G2) won by Authenticity and the Alysheba Stakes (G3) won by Take Charge Indy. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Kentucky Oaks Entries - A field of 11 fillies will go, with Gulfstream Oaks winner Dreaming of Julia favorite at 3-1 from post 8. Get the post positions, odds, and free past performances here.
Top Kentucky Derby Contenders - my list of the top horses headed to the Derby with profiles for each with photos, stats, and link to more info like past performances and pedigree.
Analyzing the top 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders - My annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year there were is a 3-way tie for the top spot: Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Overanalyze.
2013 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security - New enhanced stricter rules will be enforced this year. Be sure to read the rules as many have changed and more things are banned. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2013 - by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the "bad" picks.
Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments - Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
Review: Churchill Downs - America's Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.