JC / Railbird


ESPN commentator Pat Forde gleefully kicks a down Dutrow:

How now does it feel to be the freshly humbled fool of thoroughbred racing, after your waltz to the Triple Crown turned into a disaster, a last-place finish, a Brownout? How now do you justify all the obnoxious bragging about your horse, Big Brown? How now do you possibly answer for having flagrantly disrespected the difficulty of the task before you?
You remember, babe: Winning the Belmont and the first Triple Crown in 30 years was a “foregone conclusion.” You dismissed the field by saying, “These horses just cannot run with Big Brown.” You envisioned winning this race “by daylight, easily. I just don’t see no dogfight in this race.”
It might not have been a dogfight. But there was one dog in the race: the Brown Bomber. This was the worst performance by a Brown since W. told Mike he was doing a heck of a job handling Katrina.

Oh, that’s low, but I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy reading.
And Steven Crist points out something I’d missed:

Two other races came to mind after the Belmont, ones involving previous skirmishes between the winning and losing connections. In the 2005 Woodward, Rick Dutrow ran two overmatched sprinters at Zito’s Commentator to soften him up for Saint Liam. In the Wood Memorial two months ago, IEAH entered the rabbit Inner Light to wear down War Pass early for the benefit of their Court Vision. Both times it “worked” insofar as compromising Zito’s chances. Zito never complained publicly about either incident, and I’m not saying he entered D’Tara and Anak Nakal in retribution, or instructed their riders to surround Big Brown on the first turn, but there was at least a pinch of karma involved in the way it all worked out.

Sometimes, the universe rights itself …
Faultless Big Brown is back at the Big A, and apparently in fine health, leaving his people befuddled about what happened on Saturday. Barring any late-breaking veterinary finds, there’ll never be a good explanation, although I subscribe to the theory that he wasn’t fit, having lost four days training and posting only one work before the Belmont (and that, not as good as it looked). Blame has been heaped on “lazy” Kent Desormeaux elsewhere. Since I’ve never even been on a horse, much less hurtled along at high speed in a tight pack on one, I hate to second guess jockeys in these situations, but did find his words about pulling up Big Brown because he wasn’t “going to be fifth” a bit disturbing. What bothers me more, though, is the lack of transparency and accountability — if the New York stewards talked to Desormeaux afterwards, examined the ride or the results in any detail, or contemplated any action, we’ll never know, since that sort of information isn’t published anywhere. So, it’s all speculation, as is anything on the topic of steroids — it’s a guess whether being off Winstrol affected Big Brown, or if being on steroids helped Da’ Tara, especially since trainer Nick Zito declined to say whether the Belmont winner or Anak Nakal were injected in the days before the race. It’s a safe bet both were, but much like any inquiry by the stewards into Desormeaux’s decision to pull up, there’s no information available, no data kept, no public right to know.


While I am not a fan of the sort of snarkiness that makes up Forde’s article, I did find it awfully clever, and it was awfully fun to read.
Posted recently on The Rail: “Dan Toomey, spokesman for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said it appeared that Desormeaux acted in the best interest of the hors, and did not violate any rules.”

Posted by Brooklyn Backstretch on June 9, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

So, does that mean the stewards did look into things or is that Toomey’s opinion? What I’d like to see, every race day, is something along the lines of the stewards’ reports published in Hong Kong or Dubai. It’s frustrating to always be left with these gaps …

Posted by Jessica on June 9, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

Go, Pat Forde! This could get even better as Big Brown’s various connections take turns throwing each other under the most convenient bus (at least, the most convenient on that particular day).
I fully agree about the transparency issue with the stewards; it would make things clearer for the fan and the hard-core bettor.

Posted by Superfecta on June 9, 2008 @ 7:40 pm

I found this chuckle worthy, in a 6th grade sort of way.
But yes, transparency… total agreement, not only the stewards but clockers reports, everything!

Posted by dana on June 9, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

That race was over for BB in the first 200 yards. 12 furlongs is the perfect combination of horse and jockey. A bad ride – a good horse will not overcome. Just that simple and of the handful of 12 furlong dirt races we see every year, after every single one of them I always say to myself that the jockey had a lot to do with it.
If Coa didn’t win the Brooklyn with good race riding….then Alan Garcia didn’t win the Belmont period. Garcia got a lot of help though – there’s that Coa again. What was Tale of Ekati on backside…6, 7, maybe even 8 wide? Guess who’s outside of him? At the 6 furlong mark even the greenest of race watchers had to know it was over.
Combine what happened at the start…just in a flash, just like War Pass – and BAM! it’s over.
It got in Kent’s head and I won’t fault him for it. Snap decision, you can’t make all the right moves. Fit horse or not…they went on a mission in one of the only types of races where the jocks have a say, IMHO.

Posted by o_crunk on June 9, 2008 @ 8:42 pm

Do you think Pat Forde had a bit of an axe to grind? OUCH! Its as if Dutrow said something about his mother. That is the biggest “in your face” article I have read in quite some time.

Posted by Kevin on June 9, 2008 @ 9:30 pm

In every business venture, includng horse racing, everyone needs to be accountable for results. If a less than desirable outcome occurs then someone is going to take the hit. In this case it has to be Kent D. He has not provided a reasonable or rational explanation for why he rode the horse the way he did. He was given instruction to take the horse to the lead and he didn’t. What else is there to say. He did not follow instructions and BB lost. The whole pulling up thing was even worse and racing authorities in New York should conduct a thorough investigation of why KD did what he did.

Posted by wilson christopher on June 9, 2008 @ 9:34 pm

Look at the hysteria!! For starters, I’d like to know where Wilson got his information about Kent being instructed to go to the lead. Second, I thought Sally Jenkins got it right in the Post on Sunday, saying, considering what racing went through this Triple Crown, pulling up an out-of-it horse was the prudent thing to do. I know Ray Kerrison and company ripped Kent up the following day, but the guy made a decision to err on the side of safety — after his horse had been clearly beat — and if he had ridden out to the wire and the horse keeled over and croaked, he would have been crucified for that too. Where does Kent go if you come at him from both sides? His comments to Wally Matthews in Newsday, however, were totally bogus, and I was proud Wally referred to the quotes I gathered from John Passero for my follow-up story. When looking for answers, you have to confirm or refute the ones put forward, and I’ve got a few other things to look into. Several comments on the Post Web site suggested a fix might have been in, but the only odd thing in the wagering I saw was that there were no bridge jumpers. I’ve been told the triple — even dead-heated — was light, but come on, how hard is this five-horse box?: Big Brown, two Zitos, Dennis of Cork, and pick one … Third-to-lastly, my story today had quotes from Dr. Bramlage cut out (ugh!) but they were interesting. He said Big Brown acted during the race more like a horse on steroids, rather than one coming off them. Maybe that should have been my lead to make sure it didn’t get snipped by the snipper. Second-to-lastly: I’m not sure I get this transparency issue. It’s easy as pie for a reporter to get a daily stewards report. They’re printed up for the press, at least in Maryland, and to reach them takes no more than a phone call. Lastly, I do not wish to take shots at Iavarone, Dutrow or anyone on that team. I do not wish them ill. They are who they are. What I’m interested in is explanation, the truth. There are characters of all sorts in this world and we can watch them, learn from them, enjoy them or think they’re knuckleheads. But while prior transgressions are myriad, I didn’t see anything other than blabber, blather and bluster from these guys the past eight weeks. Some of it which they backed up. And I rather enjoyed it. A whole lot of truths were uncovered about these men, and they weren’t pretty and there may be more to find, but when people talk about “slicked-back hair” and crap like that, I question the fairness of the writer. Let’s focus on the issues.

Posted by John S. on June 9, 2008 @ 10:45 pm

Ya got to love this guy!
Now Dutrow is pinning the loss on his rider.
I think Dutrow has to be reminded of some basic training procedures that he failed to give his horse causing him to lose.
It’s very hard to win a Triple Crown off only 3 career starts. And that’s what Big Brown had entering the Kentucky Derby. He simply did not have enough foundation to stand up to having 3 grueling races in 5 weeks. I mean it’s a tough thing to handle for a very seasoned horse as we all realize so what is Dutrow thinking?
Additionally, he did not train Big Brown for the 3 weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont. He was hoping Big Brown would stay exactly the same as when he last raced in the Preakness over the 3 weeks into the Belmont.
Isn’t that a rookie mistake? I know he had foot problems and all and he missed important training. But if Dutrow was a master of his craft he could have come up with different ways to help get Big Brown ready for the Belmont without pressuring his feet or draining his energy tank any further.
One way would have been to swim his horse so he wouldn’t have missed much training at all. Another way would have been to jog or gallop over a softer and easier on the legs- turf course.
But instead of reasoning as this becoming a possibility as to why the horse was tired and didn’t want to run, he points his finger and blame at the jockey, who in fact didn’t push the horse after he had nothing left.
Desormeaux might have even saved the horses life. Who knows what would have happened if he continued to push the horse.
Ya just got love this guy – not!

Posted by NickBorg on June 9, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

I’m kind of skeptical that Desormeaux was told to take the horse straight to the lead. All I heard about leading up to the race was that patience was key: Real Quiet went too early, got beat. Smarty went too early, got beat. I’ll admit I don’t know much, but I would think that they would have told him to sit off the pace…? I would like to see verification for the “go to the lead” instruction.

Posted by Clarice on June 10, 2008 @ 12:33 am

From the Daily Racing Form:
“Dutrow said the plan for the Belmont was to go directly to the front, as Big Brown did winning the Florida Derby.”

Posted by Brooklyn Backstretch on June 10, 2008 @ 8:06 am

Did Pat Forde take issue with the substance of Dutrow’s confidence before the Belmont? To me, this column is an after-the-fact, 20/20 hindsight sophomoric ‘ha-ha, you lost’ cheap shot that was not worth the webspace it was printed on.

Posted by alan on June 10, 2008 @ 10:14 am

“I’m not sure I get this transparency issue. It’s easy as pie for a reporter to get a daily stewards report. They’re printed up for the press, at least in Maryland, and to reach them takes no more than a phone call.”
I’ve never called a track for the stewards report (perhaps I’ll try it!) but I’m wondering if they would give it to someone other than the press. Regardless, it would be nice to go a track’s site and just be able to get this information as opposed to having to call… why should only reporters have access to this information?
I suppose if we all started calling tracks at the end of the race day they might be more inclined to make it available?

Posted by dana on June 10, 2008 @ 11:32 am

Because reporters are special, Dana!
(just kidding, of course)

Posted by John S. on June 10, 2008 @ 11:40 am

Indeed! :)

Posted by dana on June 10, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

I’m retired now but for many years I was an owner, trainer, and horseshoer of thoroughbred race horses. I have had a lot of quarter crack horses and the reason for Big Browns defeat is pretty painfully obvious. Dutrow let a veterinarian with a hoof knife near his horse. You don’t patch a quarter crack and expect to run a horse three days later in a mile and a half race, you might get one to hold for 5 furlongs, but even that would be tricky and probably require skills that Dutrow doesn’t have, A patch is almost always the wrong way to go, it’s primary purpose is cosmetic.The proper treatment is to relieve the affected quarter and to then apply a three quarter shoe. You just can’t convince trainers of this though, to them the three quarter shoe just “doesn’t look right”. The only reason that a jockey pulls a horse up like that is that the horse is sore, why Desmoreux continues to lie about this is beyond me, especially after Dutrow showed his essential commonness by blaming the jockey. A quarter crack horse can look sound walking or even galloping, but it is a different story once you ask them for run. Dutrow ran a sore horse, period. No one, from the stewards on down is going to admit that in the aftermath of Eight Belles breakdown.

Posted by Scott Simmons on June 13, 2008 @ 10:42 am