Edited Press Release
With a big, lumbering move, IEAH Stable and Paul Pompa’s 3-year-old Big Brown powered his way onto the stage as a Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) prospect and probable starter in the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) after winning an "off-the-turf" allowance race March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
The son of Boundary was making his 2008 debut after winning a grass race at Saratoga last September by 11 ¼ lengths in his only previous start. Under jockey Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown stayed well out from the rail and still cantered home in the one-turn mile race in 1:35.66, winning by 12 ¾ lengths.
Trainer Rick Dutrow was ebullient and relieved immediately after the win, noting the Kentucky-bred colt has been battling foot problems since joining his stable from trainer Pat Reynolds’ barn last fall.
“I was worried all last night because he’s had two quartercracks that have been holding him back,” Dutrow said. “He breezed the other day, and when I watched him work, to me, he just looks like an absolute freak.”
Initially, Dutrow said Big Brown would go straight into the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland Apr. 12, but overnight the trainer and the IEAH team decided staying at Palm Meadows training center and racing at Gulfstream was a better idea. According to Daily Racing Form, it will be the March 29 Florida Derby for the next race.
“He’s got the kind of talent for a race like that,” said Dutrow, originally about the Blue Grass, but apropos for Gulfstream’s premier 3-year-old event. “Talent like he has makes up for a lack of experience. He’s that good.”
In a sign of Dutrow and Desormeaux’s confidence in Big Brown, both will stay in the U.S. rather than travel to the United Arab Emirates for the $6 million Dubai World Cup program taking place earlier in the day. One of Dutrow’s hopes for that race already helped give indications to Big Brown’s potential.
“I knew he was going to do great on the dirt because I breezed him with Diamond Stripes, and (Big Brown) just carried (Diamond Stripes) around the track,” he said referring to Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ graded stakes-winner and expected starter in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-I) on World Cup Day in Dubai.
Big Brown alphabetically leads the preliminary list of Florida Derby hopefuls. Also expected are Hillsbrook Farms’ Cool Gator, Robert LaPenta’s Da’Tara, Robert Evans’s Elysium Fields, M375 Thoroughbreds and Suarez Racing’s Golden Spikes, Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn and Jetset Racing’s Tomcito.