The day before the draw, Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., said if he had his druthers, he preferred an outside post for his colt, who seeks to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, and the first in 30 years to accomplish feat.
Much like Dutrow has taken everything in stride; a quarter crack, the media crush, questions about his use of steroids with Big Brown, the trainer appeared completely unfazed by drawing post position 1 in the field of 10.
“I just can’t see a post getting him beat,” Dutrow said after track announcer Tom Durkin called Big Brown’s name last, with only the one-hole remaining. “So we will take it and go with it.”
Big Brown, who is the 2-5 favorite in the morning-line odds, has history on his side. Since records of post positions have been kept beginning in 1905, post 1 has yielded 23 winners, more than any other draw. The last Belmont winner to draw the rail was Empire Maker in 2003.
The next two winningest posts are 3 and 5, with 13 winners apiece.
“It doesn’t matter what post he drew,” Dutrow said. “He is just much better than these horses. (Kent Desormeaux) will figure a way out. We don’t have anything to worry about.”
When a reporter asked Dutrow if he saw the 1 ½-mile Belmont as a “jockeys’ race,” Dutrow responded, “Well, I got to tell you, I see this as a horse race. As long as someone doesn’t do something stupid, it isn’t about the jockeys at all. We got the one-hole, as long as we break good, I see us as getting a good trip. There is not a lot of speed in the race. If we need our horse early on, he’s there for us. Depending on how they all come out of the gate together . . . Kent will know what to do. It’s a simple thing.”
Desormeaux, who seeks his first Belmont Stakes win, said of the rail post, “I’m obviously going to have to jostle for position coming from the one-hole. It takes me out a little bit out of control. “
As Dutrow was being interviewed, he started laughing when he glanced over at a reporter, who was being jostled pretty good by other reporters and camera people, and said, “You are in tight quarters there, babe.”
Perhaps the most important news June 4 for Dutrow was that Big Brown exited his five-furlong work the day before in good shape, and the trainer is delighted with the healing process of the quarter crack the colt has on his left front foot. The quarter crack will be patched the afternoon of June 6 by hoof specialist Ian McKinlay.
“He was very rough this morning around the barn,” Dutrow said. “I have never seen him like this. I see it as a very positive sign, (coming) off of the breeze. I just couldn’t be any happier with this horse.”
Big Brown’s remaining schedule before the Belmont is a jog June 5 and a gallop June 6. He will walk the morning of the race in the shedrow.