Sunday, May 4, 2008

Big Brown

It is exciting when you know you are seeing something special. Anyone watching Big Brown's performance in the Kentucky Derby had to be excited. He was lucky enough to get the perfect trip and the perfect ride from Desormeaux, but that was as much a result of design and talent than anything else. There are times when I am happy to be wrong and this is one of them. I didn't think he could win this race, having had only three prior starts and breaking from post 20. He hadn't been tested against the best three year olds. But yesterday I think he could have run the race in the 20 path all the way around and won.

Seeing Big Brown after the race,walking along as cool and calm as if he were walking the shed row, for me, was the most amazing sight of all. It was as if he hadn't even ran. One has to think that the mile and a half Belmont distance won't present any problem for him. But that is putting the cart before the horse.

Colonel John and Pyro gave each other a pretty good bump at the start and never got to be a factor in the race. Big Brown will still have to overcome some race circumstances, like those bumps at the start. He has not yet had to contend with any problems but to get the grail he more than likely will. But, today it's much easier to see why Richard Dutrow has been so confident. Very good horses rarely get themselves in trouble and perhaps that is why he has avoided any problems thus far. Until the Derby the two best horses he had beaten were Smooth Air and Tomcito. Both nice horses but certainly not two that would have been rated with the top of their class. But now he's beaten the class and we can't wait for the Preakness. Let's hope that his foot problems are behind him and that we get to see this colt have his chance to make history.

Great horses make everyone around them great. Their stories are often the result of strange circumstances and twists of fate. In racing attrition seems to work in reverse. Instead of eliminating one's chances, if one is competent enough and perseveres there is enough luck that some usually finds everyone. For an owner, trainer or jockey to get a Kentucky Derby winner not only do they have to be good, they also have to be looked upon by Lady Luck. Then there are those who have come close to having that lightning strike and we feel for them when it doesn't. This year, as last year, with Curlin and Helen Pitts, one has to wonder what Patrick Reynolds is feeling? And how nice a story would it have been if Bernie Stutts had won with Smooth Air? I'm sure the gods of racing have their reasons.

I've read suggestions that this year's crop of three year olds is a weak one. I think perhaps this year's crop, as a whole, hasn't had the race experience of past years, but I don't believe the horses that lined up for the Derby are a particularly weak group. They were just beaten by a superior horse. I wrote in my Derby Picks entry that I didn't think Big Brown was a Curlin. Well, I can't wait to find out if I've erred on that account as well. It's a long way to the Classic but Big Brown promises to make it an exciting ride!

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