With hoof specialist Ian McKinlay on the line, Dutrow also said that Big Brown’s minor quarter crack that caused him to miss three days of galloping was “no longer an issue.”
“He’s as good as he’s ever been,” Dutrow said of Big Brown. “He’s as happy as he can be. I can’t imagine (the quarter crack) being an issue right now. He’s perfectly fine. It’s even possible that the couple of days (he missed) will work to our advantage.”
A son of Boundary, Big Brown will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years and the 12th in the history of Thoroughbred racing when he goes to post at Belmont Park next weekend. Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., he won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes in convincing fashion, and has never been challenged in five career starts.
When asked if his outspokenness has caused some racing fans to root for Big Brown to lose, Dutrow said it was not on his mind.
“There are people out there that think the wrong way of me, and that’s fine,” Dutrow said. “They don’t know me and just see what they are reading. Some of it is true and some of it just doesn’t add up. But I don’t really care. My job is getting the horse right and that is taking up all my time.”
Dutrow was also asked about a few of Big Brown’s Belmont challengers, including Peter Pan (gr. II) winner Casino Drive, who was bred in Kentucky but is owned by Japanese business mogul Hidetoshi Yamamoto. Casino Drive is two-for-two in his brief career, winning his racing debut in February in Japan before taking the Peter Pan by 5 3/4 lengths. He is out of the dam Better than Honour, who has produced the last two Belmont Stakes winners.
“The Japanese horse has so much to prove,” Dutrow said. “I don’t know if he’s on the top of his game training (at Belmont). I would not depend on this horse for second (place).”
Later in the teleconference, Yamamoto’s racing manager Nobutaka Tada was asked if Dutrow’s comments offended him. “No, not at all. I enjoy listening to his comments. It sounds like he knows our horse more than us.”
Dutrow was also asked if he was concerned that other riders in the Belmont would “gang up” on Big Brown. He was reminded that some people accused riders of doing that to Smarty Jones when he was defeated by Birdstone in the 2004 Belmont Stakes.
“I don’t believe anyone would do something like that,” he said. “If they did, they might get assassinated after the race. I can’t imagine they would do that.
“(In the case of Smarty Jones), maybe the way they trained the horse up to the Belmont had a lot to do with why he got beat. I saw him breeze on a sloppy, sealed track (at Philadelphia Park) the week before (the Belmont). I couldn’t believe they did that. I also don’t think he needed to win the way he did in the Preakness (by more than 11 lengths). I think (the connections) could have played it safer and better.”