2nd at 3FLORIDA DERBY
(gr. I , 9f , to Big Brown, defeating Tomcito, Hey Byrn, Cool Gator, Majestic Warrior, Nistle's Crunch, Face the Cat, Da' Tara, Fierce Wind, Elysium Fields, B B Frank ).
Big Brown delivered the goods in such a way in the March 29 Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park that he became one of the key favorites for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Named for delivery giant UPS, the unbeaten bay colt won by an easy five lengths as the 3-2 favorite.
What helped make the victory even more impressive was that Big Brown broke from the outside 12th post and took the lead during the short run to the first turn in the 11/8-mile race. Smooth Air finished second, 71/2 lengths in front of Peruvian import Tomcito.
Another plus in Big Brown’s favor going into the Run for the Roses is that the colt’s Beyer Speed Figure in the Florida Derby is the second highest of the year for a 3-year-old and the highest for a 3-year-old at a mile and beyond. Big Brown earned a 106 in the Florida Derby and a 104 in a mile allowance score March 5 at Gulfstream Park. The year’s highest Beyer for a 3-year-old, a 109, belongs to Bob Black Jack for his triumph in the six-furlong restricted Sunshine Millions Dash Stakes at Santa Anita.
Big Brown races for a partnership that includes IEAH (International Equine Acquisitions Holdings) Stables and Paul Pompa Jr. Michael Iavarone and Richard J. Schiavo are co-presidents and co-CEOs of IEAH, which manages breeding and racing partnerships for clients. The outfit privately bought the majority interest in Big Brown from Pompa after the son of Boundary won a maiden race by 111/4 lengths on turf at Saratoga last September in his first start.
IEAH and partners are represented this year by additional major stakes winners Ariege and Benny the Bull. The latter won the March 29 Dubai Golden Shaheen – Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-I). Ariege took the March 8 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
Last year, IEAH and partners captured the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) with Kip Deville.
Pompa, chairman of a trucking firm in Brooklyn, N.Y., that has done business with UPS, bought Big Brown for $190,000 through Hidden Brook, agent, at the 2007 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The previous fall, Big Brown was bought for $60,000 by Eddie Woods, agent, at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. Dr. Gary Knapp’s Monticule consigned as agent.
Big Brown was bred by Monticule and foaled at that Lexington farm. His delivery gave the farm a scare.
“The foal was upside down for a time before the delivery,” said farm manager Dominique Tijou. “We don’t try to have a mare foal when she is in that position. It’s somewhat normal and happens quite a bit. All it takes is that we walk the mare and the foal turns. It took a little bit longer than usual for the foal to roll (in the proper position for delivery).”
Big Brown also bears a birth mark behind his left elbow that is a little smaller that a tennis ball. “It’s a nice, wide, round spot,” Tijou said. “It’s strange, but cool.”
Although Boundary is best known for siring sprinters, Big Brown’s pedigree is bolstered by multiple presences of dual classic winners Northern Dancer and Damascus. Big Brown is inbred 3x3 to Northern Dancer and 3x4 to Damascus. Northern Dancer won the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and ran third in the Belmont Stakes his championship year. Damascus, after running third in the 1967 Derby, won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and was named Horse of the Year, as well as champion 3-year-old male and handicap horse.
Big Brown’s dam, Mien, is in foal to Belong to Me and is due around April 20. She is booked to Stormy Atlantic. Monticule plans to sell Mien’s yearling filly by Touch Gold at the Keeneland September sale.
Boundary has sired 23 stakes winners, including additional 2008 added-money winner Lady Belsara. Boundary stood at the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm prior to being pensioned in 2005.—D.S.
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