Big Brown wins Preakness Stakes with ears pricked Belmont Stakes next, Triple Crown beckons
by Professional Horse Racing Handicapper Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
May 17, 2008 - The 133rd Preakness Stakes was yet another walk in the park for superstar Big Brown. This time the margin of victory was 5 -lengths. If theyd gone around again he probably would have lapped the mediocre field he faced. It may have been the easiest Preakness victory in the history of the race. Big Brown is being eased as he drew off from the second and third place finishers - who were in a full drive.
Big Brown was under a good hold early as he rated inside three lengths back of pacesetter Gayego through a quarter mile in 23.59. He then gradually moved to the outside while remaining four lengths off the lead in third through a half in 46.81. Gayego couldnt have had it any easier up front and he looked like he might be ready to run a big race. Longshot Riley Tucker moved to pressure Gayego into the final turn and Big Brown followed suit while widest of the three after six furlongs in 1:10.48 but he was still under a hold. By the time they got to late turn both Gayego and Riley Tucker were done.
Big Brown took over the lead just after jockey Kent Desormeaux had looked back to see if anyone with any horse was coming. They were, but they were already in full drives. He had yet to be asked. When Desormeaux let Big Brown out a notch turning for home he quickly made daylight on the field. He got the mile in 1:35.72 and after hed opened up five lengths Desormeaux stopped asking him. He just sat on Big Brown, easing him to the wire and saving as much horse as he could for the Belmont Stakes-G1 and possible Triple Crown coronation on June 7. The final time for the mile and three-sixteenths was 1:54.80. Big Brown had his ears pricked at the wire.
It was 5 -lengths back to Macho Again, who bested Ichabad Crane by a -length for second money. Racecar Rhapsody finished fourth, three-quarters of a length behind Ichabad Crane, after rallying to mid stretch and flattening out. Both Macho Again and Ichabad Crane had minor traffic trouble on the final turn, with Macho Again having to wait longer than Ichabad Crane for room, but neither would have gotten close to the winner regardless.
While second choice Gayego had no excuse after opening an easy early lead and setting moderate fractions, the same couldnt be said for Kentucky Bear, who had a terrible trip. The third choice in the wagering stumbled at the break, rated back and off the rail early, made a good move inside to be just back of the three-horse bid battle on the final turn but had nowhere to go when Gayego gave way in front of him. Trapped along the inside while full of run in late turn, he steadied and then checked again in early stretch as Gayego backed up into him. He finally angled out and rallied between horses to get what he could (6th) but it was too late, and he was done. He should have finished a clear second. One of these days this horse is going to run where he belongs and crush the field.
Stevil finished fifth after a decent trip. Hey Byrn finished seventh after following Big Brown around from the outside and flattening out when the running started. Giant Moon stalked widest, made a mild move into the final turn and flattened out to finish eighth. Speed horse Tres Borrachos lost all chance when he stumbled badly at the break, almost fell on his face and then checked repeatedly early before finishing ninth. Yankee Bravo showed little finishing tenth. Gayego, obviously a tired horse after the Derby, faded to finish eleventh and was followed by last-place finisher Riley Tucker.
Trained by Richard Dutrow for IEHA Stables and Paul Pompa Jr. Big Brown remained perfect at 5-for-5 with his Preakness Stakes-G1 win, which followed on the heels of his wins in the Florida Derby-G1 and Kentucky Derby-G1. The 3-year-old colt by Boundary (Danzig) - Mien by Nureyev has now earned $2,714,500 and appears to be still improving. The Preakness was his easiest stakes victory to date and the paltry mutuel prices were an indication of just how dominant he is in the 3-year-old division right now. He paid $2.40 to win.
A Triple Crown for Big Brown? Some great ones have failed.
Big Brown will now attempt to become the first undefeated Triple Crown
winner since Seattle Slew in 1977 and only the 12th Triple Crown
winner in history. The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in
1978. The final leg of the Triple Crown, the 1 -mile Belmont Stakes-G1,
takes place on Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
Big Browns jockey Kent Desormeaux, just missed winning the Triple Crown in 1998, when he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard Real Quiet before missing by a heartbreaking nose in the Belmont Stakes to Victory Gallop.
Interestingly, the likely second choice in the Belmont Stakes will be Casino Drive, who was also ridden by Desormeaux to win the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan Stakes-G2 on May 10 at Belmont Park in only his second lifetime start. The 3-year-old chestnut colt by Mineshaft is out of the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour, who has produced the last two Belmont winners, Jazil and Rags to Riches. Obviously Desormeaux will be sticking with Big Brown for the Belmont, but he has acknowledged that Casino Drive has some serious talent. We might just have a horserace in the Belmont!
Only four horses including Big Brown have been undefeated after wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness prior to trying to win the Belmont Stakes and the elusive Triple Crown. Only Seattle Slew pulled off the feat in 1977. Majestic Prince finished second to Arts and Letters in the Belmont Stakes in 1969 and Smarty Jones finished second in the Belmont Stakes to Birdstone in 2004.
Big Brown is indeed in some rare company if you consider all 10 horses that have had a shot at the Triple Crown and failed - the best of whom was Spectacular Bid, who finished third in the Belmont Stakes behind Coastal in 1969. Others besides the aforementioned Real Quiet (1998) and Smarty Jones (2004), who have failed to capture the Crown, include Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002) and Funny Cide (2003).
Theres more than a few in that bunch - that could seriously run.
2008 Preakness Stakes Results and Payoffs
May 17, 2008 - 12th Race Pimlico
7 Big Brown $2.40 $2.60 $2.40
1 Macho Again $17.20 $10.40
3 Ichabad Crane $5.60
6 Racecar Rhapsody
$2 Exacta 7-1 paid $36.30
$2 Trifecta 7-1-3 paid $336.80
$1 Superfecta 7-1-3-6 paid $1,192.30