Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Big Brown remains “right on target” for the $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I), in which he will attempt to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and the first in 30 years.
With a set of stainless steel wires holding a small quarter-crack together, Big Brown galloped a mile and a half May 29 under exercise rider Michelle Nevin. Trainer Rick Dutrow said the colt would breeze once before the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, either June 2 or June 3, after a patch is applied to the five-eighths inch crack on the inside of his left front hoof.
“It’s coming slowly but surely,” Dutrow said. “If we were under pressure, (hoof specialist Ian McKinlay) could patch him today, but we’re not under any pressure. We’ve got time. Today’s only Thursday.”
Big Brown developed the quarter crack after galloping May 23, and remained in his barn over the Memorial Day weekend. On May 27, after the crack was laced together, the colt jogged and then resumed galloping the following morning.
On a scale of 1-10, McKinlay, said the quarter-crack was about a “seven or eight” in terms of being healed.
“At this, point we are playing it as safe as possible,” McKinlay said. “All I do is make sure the wires are intact. I just check it every day after it’s done.”
In other news, Nobutaka Tada, managing director of Globe Equine Management Ltd. and spokesperson for owner Hidetoshi Yamamato and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa, said a decision would be made June 1 on whether or not to run Spark Candle in the Belmont Stakes.Spark Candle, a $1.5 million purchase in the Keeneland September 2006 Sale, pressed Mint Lane in the Peter Pan (gr. II) May 10 through fractions of 23.08, 46.31 and 1:10.47 for the first six furlongs. He finished sixth. That set up stablemate Casino Drive for his impressive victory in only his second start.
Tada said that there is some concern over a lack of pace among the expected Belmont Stakes participants, and that would be the only reason to run the “rabbit.”Casino Drive, a $950,000 purchase from that same sale, is undefeated in two career starts. He is a three-quarter brother to 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches and a half-brother to 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil. All three are out of the Deputy Minister mare, Better Than Honour.