Big Brown hit the track June 6 for his final gallop before looking to make history in tomorrow's $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr.I). After the harrowing break at 8:45 a.m., Big Brown, with exercise rider Michelle Nevin aboard, galloped nearly the circumference of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont oval.
A large crowd gathered to watch IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.'s Big Brown train, including the media, trainers of fellow Belmont rivals, and fans.
The afternoon of June 6, Big Brown’s quarter crack on his left front foot will be patched by hoof specialist Ian McKinlay. Barn 2 was to be closed to the media during what McKinlay described would be a 30-minute process to patch the hoof.
“The patch we’ll put on today is very routine,” McKinlay said during a press conference outside of Barn 2, after Big Brown galloped. “As far as everything I see, everything couldn’t be better. I’m just totally delighted.”
McKinlay said the foot is “cold” and that there was “no shot” of Big Brown losing the patch during the running of the race.
Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., spoke at length at the news conference, and basically reiterated things he has said during the week. Big Brown was well, the quarter crack and rail position were not issues, and he is looking forward to running the colt in the Belmont.
Dutrow admitted to myriad emotions on Belmont eve. “Maybe it doesn’t show, but I am having a ball. There is excitement in the air. There is a lot of adrenaline flowing here.
“I think I am starting to get in my zone. I’m relaxed. I have a lot of emotions going on as we get closer to the race. I don’t think I will watch Benny the Bull run (in the True North). I think I will just be at the (monitoring barn) with (Big Brown). It is too special a feeling to leave him and go do other things. I want to be with the horse. That is what makes me feel good.”
The trainer was asked if he would experience insomnia Friday evening. “I hope not,” he said. “I might, but I hope not. I don’t know.”
Big Brown will not go to the track the morning of the Belmont. At some point during the day, he will be brought over to the monitoring barn, where he will remain until being brought to the paddock for the Belmont.
During the press conference, Dutrow tipped the media off to the fact that there was a potential problem with Casino Drive that jeopardized his chances of running in the Belmont. It was later revealed that Casino Drive had a possible foot bruise.
“I heard that he wasn’t even running,” Dutrow said.