Horse trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. became the second biggest loser at Belmont when he blamed the jockey after no medical reason was found for Big Brown’s last-place finish, blowing his Triple Crown chances.
Kent Desormeaux is the same jockey who rode Big Brown to victory in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He’s said Brownie is the “best horse I’ve ever ridden,” and he should know, being a Hall of Famer with nearly 5,000 victories under his cap.
While sports writers crucified Dutrow for dissing everyone, including the other horses at Belmont – by calling Big Brown’s win a “foregone conclusion” – Desormeaux maturely approached Dutrow and they reached an understanding.
Theories abound about what happened, but I think they’re underestimating Big Brown’s intelligence. He’s an unbeaten champion who found himself stuck in a herd on a miserably hot day. When he decided, “To hell with this,” it didn’t matter what Desormeaux did or didn’t do.
Big Brown has a mind of his own. You could see his usual joie de vivre was missing going into that race, although the talking heads kept praising his “calmness.”
Fortunately, Big Brown will get another chance – with Desormeaux in his saddle. If all goes well, they’ll compete in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 23 at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 25 at Santa Anita.
Not that he’ll ever admit it had anything to do with the pep disappearing from Big Brown’s step, but Dutrow’s putting Brownie back on the steroid Winstrol on June 15.
I never thought I’d get attached to a horse, but I look forward to seeing Big Brown make a big comeback, in spite of Dutrow.