Big Brown will not meet Curlin in the Woodward or the Jockey Club Gold Cup according to Mike Iavarone.

Big Brown will not meet Curlin in the Woodward or the Jockey Club Gold Cup according to Mike Iavarone.

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

Ball Back in Iavarone's Court: No Thanks

Serve Iavarone. Despite the “invitations” by Curlin’s majority owner Jess Jackson’s to IEAH Stables to run Big Brown in either the Woodward or the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner will remain on schedule for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), and that does not include either race.

So, unless Curlin runs in the Classic or the two agree after the Breeders’ Cup to meet in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 28, it looks as if the two classic winners will not run against each other.

“I’ve made my plans clear,” said IEAH co-president Mike Iavarone. “We want to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. We’ve always said that’s the race we want to win. Curlin is not going in the Classic so his schedule is different than ours. If we ran on Aug. 30, that puts us in a precarious position regarding what we do between that race and the Breeders’ Cup. We’d be coming back short from the last one (grade I Haskell Invitational) and then have two months to the Classic, which is too much time. (Jackson) doesn’t have to worry about that because he’s not going to the Breeders’ Cup. The Woodward would be his Breeders’ Cup.

“The Breeders’ Cup is the race to decide the championship, no matter what surface it’s on. We have clearly defined where we were going from day one. The disappointing side of it is, there’s no reason why Curlin and Big Brown shouldn’t be in the Classic, because neither of them have raced on a synthetic surface, so neither of them have run poorly over it. It’s not like we’re going to be running on broken glass or slippery ice. They’re going to have that track as good as they can possibly have it knowing the quality of the horses. And then you add horses like Henrythenavigator or maybe Commentator and it only adds to the intrigue.”

Iavarone and trainer Rick Dutrow have never had the Jockey Club Gold Cup in their plans either, especially considering the bad experience Big Brown had in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and in the holding barn prior to the race.

“I’ll gladly run Frost Giant against him in the Jockey Club Gold Cup,” Iavarone said. “That’s who we’re planning to run there.”

Iavarone is beginning to find humor in Jackson’s challenges and jokingly proposed an alternative challenge on Woodward day.

“Team Big Brown against Team Curlin in a three-on-three basketball game,” he said. “Desormeaux, Dutrow, and Iavarone vs. Albarado, Asmussen, and Jackson, or a player to be named later.”

Iavarone acknowledges that he hasn’t won many popularity contests with some people.

“I know some people think I’m arrogant, but I don’t consider myself that way at all,” he said. “People that genuinely know me can tell you I’m far from arrogant. We have good horses and I like my horses, and I don’t think it’s arrogant to acknowledge that.”