Ian McKinlay, the hoof-lameness specialist who has been treating Big Brown’s quarter crack, said Monday morning the colt’s left front foot has shown improvement and he and trainer Rick Dutrow remain confident the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I) winner will not be hampered by the injury.
Big Brown, owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., is slated to make a run to become the 12th winner of the Triple Crown June 7 in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The last Triple Crown winner came in 1978 when Affirmed defeated Alydar in all three legs.
Stabled in Barn 2 at Belmont Park, Big Brown has not gone to the track during the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.
“The foot is colder today, which is an excellent sign,” McKinlay said. “He’s not as sensitive on the coronet band. So now, we basically made a little trench down through the wall just above the laminae. We put in one set of sutures, which is like a stitch made of stainless steel wire and we can draw that crack together. Probably tomorrow it will be in much better shape.
“Everything should just keep progressing,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is stabilize the heel to promote quicker healing. Once we stabilize the quarter, that little bit of inflammation that is still in there will come out and we’ll keep moving forward. Once we know everything is under control, that stitch will come out and we’ll clean up the whole area.”
McKinlay said the crack that was five-eighths of an inch long Sunday is now about three-quarters of an inch, but says that is “a typical quarter crack.”
“By tomorrow we’ll know right where we are; if the foot cools right out, we’ll be in great shape,” McKinlay said. “I’m hoping Rick calls me tomorrow and says the foot is ice cold, and then we’ll know we’re there. All we’re trying to do is take that soft tissue and dry it up.”
Dutrow said he noticed a small spot on the colt's foot Friday afternoon and notified McKinlay, who treated it. with Animalintex (poultice). By mid-day Saturday, it had turned into a slight quarter crack, five-eighths of an inch long. It was when McKinlay applied an iodine and alcohol wash that the crack became visible.
Dutrow said if the foot looks great on Tuesday morning, Big Brown will walk under tack with exercise rider Michelle Niven aboard to take the edge off of him.
“This is just a little hiccup,” Dutrow said. “It could actually be a very good thing because he burned his heels in the Preakness. This will give him time to get over that. Four, five, six, or seven days away from the track is not going to affect the outcome of the race. He’s not going to get tired because he missed a few days.
“I’m not going to mess around with jogging,” Dutrow continued. “When he goes back to the track, he’ll gallop and I’ll gallop him up to a five-eighths breeze. If he gets one breeze in him, that’s all I’m looking for. If Ian says on Wednesday to go with him, that’s what we’ll do. If he says give him a few more days, we’ll do that.”
Big Brown, who is unbeaten in five starts, won the Florida Derby (gr. I) and took the first two legs of the Triple Crown with impressive victories in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and May 17 Preakness Stakes. Out of the Nureyev mare Mien, Big Brown is a son of Boundary who was bred in Kentucky by Gary Knapp’s Monticule.