By Karen Johnson and
Dual classic winner Big Brown has been retired after sustaining an injury during a workout at Aqueduct the morning of Oct. 13.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) had worked in company with Kip Deville over the turf course, with the stablemates finishing together in final time of 1:12 4/5 for six furlongs.
Afterward, it was determined that the colt had grabbed a quarter on the inside of the right front foot. The injury and subsequent retirement means the highly anticipated showdown between he 3-year-old colt and reigning Horse of the Year Curlin will not take place in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
"Big Brown has been retired," said Michael Iavarone, co-owner of IEAH Stables. "He not only tore the bulb off his foot, but half the foot was torn off. We did everything we could to get to the Breeders' Cup. It's devastating. And what makes it even worse is that he worked great."
“We are disappointed that Big Brown will not be able to compete in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic but are glad to hear that he is expected to make a full recovery from the injury he sustained earlier today," Greg Avioli, president and CEO of the Breeders' Cup, said in a statement.
"My family and I are saddened to learn of Big Brown’s career ending injury during his morning workout," said Jess Jackson, majority owner of Curlin, said in a statement. "I have always said what an incredible horse Big Brown is and that the bay colt brought energy and excitement to our industry, especially during his run at the Triple Crown. I am equally disappointed that Big Brown and Curlin will never compete against each other. It was a dream of mine and thousands of other fans of the sport. Now, we all join together in wishing Big Brown a speedy recovery."
Big Brown, by Boundary (VIDEO) will enter stud at Robert Clay's Three Chimneys farm for the 2009 breeding season. Bred in Kentucky by Monticule and out of the Nureyev mare Mien, Big Brown won seven of eight starts and $3,614,500.
The ebullient mood following Big Brown’s solid work quickly turned to concern after trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. noticed the injury as the colt walked off the grass course. Back at the barn, Dutrow quietly spoke with Iavarone as Big Brown was walked in the shedrow.
As Big Brown was being bathed, Iavarone paced around the colt and said: “I don’t like the look of it.”
Paul Pompa Jr., Big Brown’s original owner before selling a majority interest in the son of Boundary to IEAH Stables, was also present. Pompa retained a 25% interest in Big Brown, following the sale of the colt in September 2007.
Alex Leaf, the blacksmith who worked on Big Brown’s problematic feet throughout his 3-year-old campaign, examined the injury and privately spoke with Dutrow.
A chunk of skin about three inches in diameter was torn off the foot. A portion of the hoof in the area was missing, leaving a jagged-looking edge. Although there was little or no blood, the skin was exposed and raw-looking. Big Brown was not lame, and did not appear to be favoring the foot while being bathed and walked.
Before Iavarone announced that Big Brown was retired, Dutrow was matter of fact and reacted calmly when discussing the injury. Whatever emotions he may have been feeling were not evident from his demeanor.
“His foot doesn’t look any good,” Dutrow said as he sat in his office. “I think he is going to miss the race, the way things look right now. It looks like it happened in a bad spot, and it looks like it will need to grow out.”
Dutrow said the affected area would be soaked in hot water and Epsom Salts, and then Animalintex, a poultice pad containing a mild antiseptic, would be applied to the wound.
Following his flop in the Belmont Stakes, where he was eased in the stretch by jockey Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown returned to win Monmouth Park’s Haskell (gr. I) Aug. 3 and the Monmouth Park Stakes in what we would be his last start Sept. 13. In the weeks following the Belmont, Dutrow said he found no physical reason for the surprising performance from Big Brown in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Iavarone will be on an NTRA media teleconference at 2 p.m. Oct. 13 to discuss Big Brown's retirement.