Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa, Jr., and trained by Rick Dutrow, Big Brown was an impressive winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) en route to Saturday’s date with destiny.
“Their horse, I think, has that little extra something," said Wolfson, who along with her late husband, Louis, campaigned 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. "His (Big Brown’s) explosion — the way he exploded down the stretch at the Preakness — was unbelievable. It's very exciting. It's probably time for a Triple Crown winner."
Wolfson said her husband, who died late last year, still recognized videos of Affirmed's victories even as he succumbed to the effects of Alzheimer's.
Wolfson’s reflections came at the annual Belmont Stakes kickoff luncheon at the ESPN Zone in Manhattan.
Also on hand at the luncheon was Jorge Velasquez, who rode Alydar to runner-up efforts to Affirmed in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
After hugging Wolfson, Velasquez reflected on the 1978 Belmont, in which Alydar poked a head in front before jockey Steve Cauthen guided Affirmed to victory.
"At the three-sixteenths pole, I thought I had him when Alydar put his head in front,” the Hall of Famer said. "If I had the same chance again, I don't think I'd do anything different," Velasquez said. "I'd just hope that this time, I'd win."
While the Big Brown camp continued to express confidence (“I just see a perfect horse right now,” Dutrow said), the connections Belmont contender Macho Again are looking for an upset. Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, acknowledged that he would not be too disappointed if a Triple Crown winner emerged Saturday.
"I'm telling everybody, I'd love to win, but if we don't win, I'd love to be second and I'd love to see a Triple Crown winner," said Finley, the president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “You've got horses that have shown they've got potential and talent. You just never know if Saturday could be the best day of their entire lives."
Finley said he sees parallels between Macho Again and Birdstone , who ended Smarty Jones ' Triple Crown bid at the Belmont in 2004.
"He didn't have an explosive turn of foot, but he just kept grinding," Finley said. "I see our horse exactly the same."