On Aug. 18, Pompa confirmed that an offer was made by the Pennsylvania racetrack to double the purse of the $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup, a nine-furlong grass race, should Big Brown participate.
“The money was there, but the last time I talked to Michael (Iavarone), he said we weren’t going because the turf course there would not be to our liking,” Pompa said.
A phone call to Iavarone of IEAH Stables, the majority owner Big Brown, was not immediately returned Aug. 18. Philadelphia Park officials were also unavailable for comment the morning of Aug. 18.
The PTHA had the conditions and timing that Iavarone desired for Big Brown, who won the Haskell (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Aug. 3. Iavarone has indicated that he would like for the Rick Dutrow Jr.-trained Big Brown to run in a grass race during the middle of September as a prep for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. Oct. 25.
The Haskell was the first race that Big Brown ran in following his stunning flop in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), where he was pulled up by jockey Kent Desormeaux. Big Brown, a son of Boundary, entered the Belmont Stakes undefeated, and with a Triple Crown on the line, following brilliant races in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
On Aug. 13, Jess Jackson, the majority owner of reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, said he would donate $50,000 to the Anna House, a Belmont Park daycare center, should Big Brown’s connections meet his colt in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 30.
Upon hearing the offer, Iavarone told The Blood-Horse: “I have a better offer. We’ll donate $250,000 to various charities if Curlin meets us in the Breeders’ Cup. These are the things we do anyway. We strongly feel that championships should be decided at the Breeders’ Cup and that in order to give both horses the proper time to prepare for each other, we believe the race we meet in should be on racing’s biggest stage. It also would allow horses from Europe an opportunity to race against us and prove who the best horse in the world is. You’re not going to prove it in a four-horse field in the Woodward. You’re going to prove it in a full field in the Breeders’ Cup. That’s where the champions have been decided almost every year.”
A meeting between Curlin and Big Brown seems unlikely since Jackson said the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race won by Curlin las t year, is not in the plans.