Big Brown brought smiles to the faces of his connections June 3 after a crucial five-furlong breeze in 1:00 on Belmont Park’s main track shortly before 9 a.m. EDT.
On a fast main track, Big Brown carved out fractions of 23 3/5 for the opening quarter-mile, and 35 1/5 for three-eighths of a mile, according to New York Racing Association clockers. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5. The work was the fastest of seven at the distance.
“I expected him to go good,” Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., said shortly after the work outside Barn 2, as he addressed a large throng of media. “I was hoping that he would get the time that he got. We’re as happy as we can be. There aren’t any issues with our horse, so I was expecting to see what we saw.
“He does whatever you would want him to do. He is not an overly powerful good work horse. If you ask him to, he’ll go, but there is no reason for that. We’re very happy with things right now.
“He was a little bit on edge. It has been a long time since he breezed. It was two days before the Derby. So he was looking forward to it, and he is cooling out very good. He is very happy right now.”
The work was a pivotal one as it was the first breeze Big Brown has had since winning the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course May 17. Big Brown did blow out a half-mile in 25 4/5 the morning of the Preakness. His last five-furlong breeze came April 24 at Palm Meadows Training Center, where he was timed in 58 3/5.
In the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Big Brown will aim to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 30 years.
Another essential factor concerning the work is that the son of Boundary did it without a patch on the quarter crack on his left front foot. The quarter crack, which was diagnosed May 30, is sutured and is expected to be patched by hoof specialist Ian McKinlay the afternoon before the Belmont. Dutrow’s reasoning in not putting the patch on for the work was because he wanted any seepage in the area to drain.
Said Dutrow: “I called Ian after they work and I said, ‘He went good, and I don’t see any issue at all.’ I told him everything was beautiful.”
A major concern following the work would have been the discovery of blood in the quarter crack. “I didn’t see any,” Dutrow said. “No blood.”
Michelle Nevin, Big Brown’s regular exercise rider, was aboard for the work. Nevin said Big Brown was keen to go. After coming onto the gap, located around the clubhouse turn, Nevin broke Big Brown into a jog, and then a gallop. He glided smoothly to the five-eighths pole, with Nevin having a snug hold on the eager colt.
Big Brown’s co-owner, Michael Iavarone, watched the work with Dutrow near the finish line, and commented to his trainer before the work that it appeared two other horses behind Big Brown were also set to breeze.
Dutrow told Iavarone: “They’re not going to pass him.”
After the work at the barn, Nevin high-fived a fellow exercise rider, and then came over to talk to the press, before Dutrow did.
“He was a little rank today,” Nevin said. “He was looking to do something; he was trying to get away early. So I ended up having a pretty good hold on him all the way, to try to ease him down. I was very happy with him.”
Dutrow continues to exude confidence in Big Brown’s quest to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner. When asked why he has so much faith in Big Brown achieving the feat, Dutrow said: “Because he is the best horse in the race.”
In the next four days (June 4-7), Dutrow said Big Brown would, “walk (Wednesday), jog (Thursday), gallop (Friday), run (Saturday).”