Big Brown on Curlin: “One of us had to lose.”

By Fred

I was honored to be the first cat to interview Big Brown. He spoke to me by phone from an undisclosed location where he’s recovering from an accidental self-inflicted wound he sustained on his right front foot during a workout. He was forced into early retirement, missing the climactic race of his life – the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on October 25 – his matchup with 2007 Horse of the Year, Curlin.

Fred: Brownie, you’ve dropped out of sight. Your fans want to know how you’re doing.

Big Brown: I’ve never been better, Fred. I’m hanging out at the stable surrounded by big baskets from fans of apples, carrots, and lump sugar. I even smoke an occasional cigar since I’m not in training anymore.

F: Did you watch Curlin’s race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic?

BB: You call that a race? I could have outrun Curlin wearing loose shoes and one hoof tied behind my back. What a prima donna! He let artificial turf throw him so that Brit, Raven’s Pass, could beat him. He even let old Tiago get by. That never happened in any of my races.

And what was that braided mane all about? If Rick Dutrow had tried to tart me up like that before the Derby, I’d have kicked him into next Tuesday.

F: Speaking of your humans, did you hear your owner, Michael Iavarone, talking about the death threat he claims he got before the Belmont if anything happened to you?

BB: I think that guy will say anything for some ink. He must have been threatened by The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. I was a train wreck in the Belmont. What horse walks across the finish line? But Iavarone’s still in one piece, so what happened to that so-called threat? Why didn’t he go to the police?

F: I also heard that PETA wants Iavarone to take a pass on your $50 million stud deal and have you castrated so future generations of thoroughbreds won’t inherit your foot problems.

BB: Easy for PETA to say. I’m being put out to pasture while I’m still in my prime. What the hell am I supposed to do for the rest of my life if they don’t let me have some fun with the fillies? Take up knitting and Sudoku?

F: You’re a superstar. Even with a big name like Curlin, the Breeders’ Cup seemed a little flat without you.

BB: Thanks, kid. I am going to miss that adrenaline rush, the crowd cheering me on, and those blankets of flowers. But Smarty Jones tells me life’s good at Three Chimneys. I’ll miss my jockey Kent Desormeaux, but not Ricky the Needle. Around the stables, that’s what we horses nicknamed that dirt bag, Dutrow. He gave me a steroid habit, then made me quit cold-turkey right before my Triple Crown shot in the Belmont. I’m thrilled that some states are finally outlawing steroids, but I still pity Dutrow’s next protégée.

F: Do you think Curlin was relieved that you skipped the Breeders’ so you weren’t there to see him come in fourth, after all the hype?

BB: Personally, I’ve got nothing against Curlin. But the way the system works, one of us had to lose, and I’m glad it was him.

5 Responses to Big Brown on Curlin: “One of us had to lose.”

  1. Adele says:


    Alice was very pleased that you got to speak to Big Brown, because she knows how much you admire him. She has a few questions, though: first, who called whom? Even with touch tone phones, she has a hard time picturing how a hoof could punch in numbers — or for that matter a cat’s paw. Do you both have peeps? Then she wondered whether Big Brown reads Cats Working, and that’s how he got in touch. Finally she wondered whether cats and horses both speak English. I told her that I thought any animal, who had a relationship with an English-speaking person, probably spoke English; cats with a cat dialect and horses with a horse dialect.

  2. Dave Bromley says:

    Surely Curlin is still one of the greatest race horses ever.

  3. catsworking says:

    Dave, I agree with you. Curlin will always be remembered as one of the greats, but you can’t begrudge Big Brown a few sour grapes. It’s all in fun.

    Adele, Big Brown does have peeps who do menial tasks for him, as Karen does mine. Since he’s been laid up with the foot, he’s been doing a lot of Web surfing, found my posts on Cats Working, and got in touch to thank me for being on his side. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hear from my idol.

    Naturally, we were both born here so we speak a universal form of animal English. If Alice has ever watched Mister Ed, she’d know that horses are versatile communicators and have a great sense of humor, as Brownie’s interview proved. He didn’t have any problem chatting with a cat. If there’s one thing animals are NOT, it’s bigots.

  4. John says:

    Hey Fred,

    I don’t know how I stumbled onto your site but this is a great interview with Big Brown.

  5. catsworking says:

    John, I first got interested in horses (a strange hobby for a cat, I’ll admit) when I saw Afleet Alex stumble and almost go down in a big race a few years ago (which one it was escapes me – one of the Triple Crown races, probably). I thought his jockey would be trampled into cat food, but Alex recovered and WON the race. It was amazing. Up to that point, I’ll admit I stereotyped horses as being little more than grossly oversized dogs. Not too bright.

    Then along came Barbaro. That horse had it all. Style, flair, charisma. When they finally had to put him down, I mourned for months.

    I think what kept Big Brown from ultimate greatness was the company he was forced to keep. Things surrounding him always seemed a bit shifty. Still, I’ll miss seeing him race, and I’m glad we got a chance to “meet” before he becomes the Horsey Hugh Hefner of Kentucky.

    Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup caught my eye. What a filly!

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