The latest piece of evidence pertaining to Big Brown's mysterious last-place finish in the Belmont Stakes is a picture taken in the early stretches of the race which shows that the colt's right hind shoe was loose. Michael Iavarone, a co-president of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings (Big Brown's stable) pointed to the data as the proverbial smoking gun; proof positive that his horse is still much the best, and more importantly, still worth $50 million as a stud. Others, including trainer Rick Dutrow, are not completely convinced that the shoe was the culprit; Dutrow suggested that it was an inept ride by Kent Desormeaux that doomed his horse to a ninth-place finish that day.
BB is set resume training in New York this week, and Dutrow has an Ambitious schedule in mind: The Haskell at Monmouth Park on August 3, The Travers at Saratoga on August 23, and finally the Breeder's Cup Classic at Santa Anita on October 25, which, if it happens, will probably be the last race of BB's career. Disappointingly, his connections have already announced that he will not run as a four-year-old.
I'll draw a line through the Belmont performance, shoe or no shoe, provided he runs in the Breeder's Cup. As I said in an earlier post (and as many others have pointed out), if he can beat a bunch of the four-year-olds from last year's stellar graduating class, especially Curlin, I'm still willing to annoint him as the current King of Beasts. But if he looks silly chasing Curlin, Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, and/or Hard Spun, I think the doubters will be proved correct in the assessment that until the Belmont, BB was just toying around with a bunch of weak three-year-olds.
In other news, Rick Dutrow was scheduled to testify on June 19th before a House subcommittee hearing on thoroughbred safety, but cancelled, saying that he was sick. It seems a little more likely he suddenly remembered that he's a former cocaine abuser with a long string of suspensions for equine doping violations. I think he should have gone anyway, he probably would have discovered that he has more in common with many congressman than one would initially assume.