(Edited Press Release)
Probable Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) favorite Big Brown turned in his final serious work April 24 at Palm Meadows training center, breezing five furlongs in :58 3/5 under exercise rider Michelle Nevin.
“He did exactly what we wanted him to do,” said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who conditions Big Brown for IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr. “He did it the right way, looked real good, and did it in racehorse time while well within himself. He went about his business in a smooth and ordinary way.”
Dutrow Jr. didn’t seem worried about the rapid clocking.
“Right now, I’m not concerned in any way,” he said. “We needed to turn his head loose a little in the lane, because we’ve kept him covered up in his last couple of breezes. I told Michelle to let him out just a little notch in the stretch, she did just that, the colt took the bit, and just carried her to the wire. With the race 10 days away, this is what we needed and wanted.”
Big Brown is tentatively scheduled to be flown from his Florida base to Churchill Downs April 28, and should arrive there by about 5 p.m. From there, the Boundary colt will likely have an easy three-furlong breeze over Churchill’s main track two days prior to the May 3 Kentucky Derby.
Big Brown has won all three of his starts, the first two by a combined 24 lengths and his last, the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) by five lengths while competing against South Florida’s best 3-year-olds.
He ran on turf in his first race, at Saratoga Sept. 3, when owned solely by Pompa and trained by Patrick Reynolds; on a drying-out track at Gulfstream March 5 well after IEAH Stable had bought in and Dutrow had taken over the colt’s training; and on a fast track in the Florida Derby March 29, from which he broke from Post 12 in the 1 1/8-mile race.
“(The Saratoga race) was amazing,” Dutrow said of the bay colt’s 11¼-length victory, “and he took our breath away the first time he ran at Gulfstream,” winning by 12¾ lengths.
Much was made of Big Brown’s post position in the Florida Derby, but Dutrow said it was never a concern.
“I thought the only way he could get beat in the Florida Derby was if he ran into trouble, and the outside post assured us that he wouldn’t get into trouble,” he said.
“We thought about the (April 12) Blue Grass, but the spacing from the Florida Derby to the Kentucky Derby (five weeks later) better suited us. We wanted a lot of time after the Florida Derby, and I think a lot of time is best for a race like (the Kentucky Derby).”
Big Brown suffered from quarter cracks earlier in his career, but Dutrow said the colt’s one-time brittle feet are no longer a concern.
“His feet have been cold the last three or four weeks,” he said. “I’m not worried about his feet at all.”