Rick Dutrow, Jr.

Rick Dutrow, Jr.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Big Brown All Set For Monmouth Stakes

The Boundary colt will go to the Breeders Cup Classic for his next race.

On Sept. 9, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. addressed the media to answer questions about dual-classic winner Big Brown, who returns to the grass in the newly-created Monmouth Stakes Sept. 13. Though Dutrow fielded questions regarding Big Brown’s race this weekend, inevitably, the talk eventually returned to the one subject everyone seems obsessed with: Big Brown vs. Curlin.

Just as IEAH Stables managing partner Mike Iavarone did recently, Dutrow left open the possibility that the rivals would meet before the end of the year.

“Everyone in the world wants them to run against each other before they retire,” Dutrow said. “Hopefully it happens. If Curlin shows up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), that’s great. If not, we’ll try to put it together (after the race).

“We’ll set up a match race if they want to. We’ll let them pick the time, place, and distance. It doesn’t matter to us.

“But we have a big race Saturday, and then the Breeders’ Cup. There is no use talking about it until then. We’ll be looking for them after that.”

Big Brown, who broke his maiden by more than 11 lengths last year at Saratoga in his only career turf race, was last seen winning the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on the Monmouth dirt Aug. 3. Since then, the 3-year-old Boundary colt has been working steadily on the Aqueduct turf, including his latest breeze Sept. 9--five furlongs in 1:05.35 over a surface labeled "good." Dutrow was happy with the effort.

“He went beautifully,” Dutrow commented. “Everything is set up for him. As long as he comes out of the breeze good, he’ll be ready to run Saturday.

 “Whenever we have breezed him, he’s gone better on grass. All of my riders--(Edgar) Prado, Cornelio (Velasquez), Michelle (Nevin), and Rudy (Rodriguez)--like him more on grass.”

Dutrow was also asked about the decision to run Big Brown in a non-graded stakes, as opposed to more prestigious events such as the Travers (gr. I) or Goodwood Stakes (gr. I).

“We wanted to race 40 days before the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “We searched around and didn’t see anything we liked. So we asked New York, Philly and Monmouth to come up with something. All three were more than willing and able.

“The Breeders’ Cup is where we want to run. That’s what the ultimate goal is. We wanted to get him there the right way. I would have loved for him to show up the right way in the Belmont and run him in the Travers.

“He’s had feet issues to deal with. It’s not like he’s a horse that wakes up ready to roll. He’s had five or six quarter cracks since I’ve had him. He has tender feet, and we want to keep him on grass as much as possible. It’s so much easier to keep him on his natural surface.”

Dutrow, who said he felt it was important for Big Brown to run this weekend to keep the timing right, indicated he would run him even if the race was moved to the main track. There is a 40% chance of rain this weekend at Monmouth.

Among those expected to face the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner in the Monmouth Stakes are Kiss the Kid, Proudinsky, Hotstufanthensone, Shakis, and Get Serious. Silver Tree, Shake the Bank, Ballonenostrikes and Victory Alleged are possibilities. The $200,000 purse will increase to $500,000 if Big Brown goes to post.

Regarding the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Oct. 25 , Dutrow said he would likely train Big Brown up to the race at Aqueduct and ship him to California a few days before the event.