Artorius Castus

Big Brown’s Triple Crown dreams wilt

Posted in Uncategorized by Patrick Truax on June 8, 2008

By Steve Ginsburg

ELMONT, New York (Reuters) – Big Brown’s Triple Crown dreams wilted in the searing heat when 38-1 longshot Da’ Tara won the Belmont Stakes in a wire-to-wire shocker Saturday.

Bidding to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, Big Brown sat in third for most of the race but had nothing down the stretch and finished last.

“I was keeping an eye on the horse in front and I thought, ‘Okay, let’s engage and let’s at least keep him honest,'” Big Brown’s jockey Kent Desormeaux told reporters.

“And I was done. I had no horse.

“It was hot as hell out there. There were no popped tires. He was just out of gas.”

Da’ Tara, who lost to Big Brown by 23 lengths in the Florida Derby, won for just the second time in eight career starts and was the longest shot in the nine-horse field.

Ridden by Alan Garcia and trained by Nick Zito, the dark bay won by 5 1/4 lengths over runner-up Denis of Cork. Anak Nakal and Ready’s Echo finished in a dead heat for third.

“I salute Big Brown,” said Zito, who also trains Anak Nakal. “He’s still a champion and he wasn’t himself today. We took advantage of it.”

When Desormeaux realized Big Brown had nothing left, he pulled him up in mid-stretch and let him stroll awkwardly across the finish line.


Many in the crowd of 94,000 at Belmont Park feared Big Brown had suffered some sort of breakdown but the prohibitive 1-4 favorite appeared healthy in a post-race examination.

“It was a very disappointing race but the horse looks like he’s fine,” said trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr. “He didn’t get the Triple Crown but he got the Derby and the Preakness and that was great.

“Right now, we’re trying to figure out what happened. Something’s not right for him to be pulled up in a race so I have to try to find out what it is.”

The winning time of 2:29.65 for the mile-and-a-half was well off the Belmont Stakes’ record of 2:24 set by Triple Crown winner Secretariat in 1973.

Temperatures were in the low 90sF most of the day at Belmont Park and although it had cooled somewhat by post time, it was still hazy, hot and humid.

Big Brown had won all five of his previous races by a combined 39 lengths and was bidding to become the 12th Triple Crown winner.

“This obviously would have been a life changing experience if I win, but it’s life as usual,” said Desormeaux, who lost a bid for the Triple Crown in 1998 when Real Quiet missed out by a nose to Victory Gallop.

“Nothing’s going to change. I’m still going to try to be lead rider every meet, race every day and take care of my kids, family, wife.”

Da’ Tara entered the race with earnings of just $64,000 but earned a $600,000 paycheck for the Belmont victory.

The victory was the second in the Belmont Stakes for Zito, a Hall of Famer who dashed the Triple Crown hopes of Smarty Jones in 2004 when he saddled 36-1 Birdstone to the upset.

“I don’t take anything for granted in this business,” said Zito, a New Yorker. “You’ve got to thank your lucky stars, and you know, we’re blessed, obviously.

“If Big Brown was himself, he would have been tough to beat. But he wasn’t himself. That’s why they play the game.”

Congratulations to Da’Tara, what a great race. Tough luck for Big Brown, here’s hoping he gets well quick.

Pics and story from Reuters


One Response

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  1. Elizabeth said, on June 8, 2008 at 4:34 am

    I guess it’s a good thing you couldn’t get that bet in!

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