Edited Press Release
Despite suffering from a case of laryngitis and unable to speak much, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said that Florida Derby (gr. I) runaway winner Big Brown came out of the March 29 event in good shape.
Dutrow said the undefeated son of Boundary was doing well back at his Palm Meadows Training Center barn March 30 and his Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) preparation plans would be solidified later in the week.
Dutrow had a huge day March 29, winning a pair of races on the Dubai World Cup undercard with Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Diamond Stripes in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II), and IEAH’s Benny the Bull in the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I). Big Brown’s $1 million victory came several hours later.
In other news, veteran trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. said that Florida Derby runner-up Smooth Air did more than enough to earn a spot at Churchill Downs May 3.
“We’re going to the Kentucky Derby,” Stutts said. “It’s not hard to take $200,000 for finishing second. The key to him is that he’s able to rate. He broke sharp yesterday near the lead, but (jockey Manoel) Cruz was able to ease him back off the pace.
“I’ve had a lot of inquiries to buy him, but Brian (Mount Joy owner Brian Burns) has shown no interest in selling him. As far as when he’ll ship to Kentucky, that will be up to (Burns). He’s a good shipper. We went up to Tampa the night before the (Sam Davis Stakes on Feb. 16) and he ran big. I can train him here (Calder) or up there.
“I’m pretty sure they’ll want to go up well before the race and he’ll go into Dallas Stewart’s barn (at Churchill Downs) rather than a Derby barn or receiving barn.”
A Florida-bred chestnut by Smooth Jazz, Smooth Air has never finished off the board in seven starts and pushed his earnings to nearly $400,000 March 29. He finished five lengths behind Big Brown but was 7½ lengths clear of Tomcito in third, with nine others strung out behind him.