Big Brown wins Classic prep on turf
REPORT: USA, Saturday
Monmouth Park: Monmouth Stakes 1m1f turf 3yo+
IT had been a year and ten days since Big Brown's only previous race on turf - his debut at Saratoga - but he looked like an old pro on the surface on Saturday at Monmouth Park, in holding multiple Graded stakes winner Proudinsky to win by a neck.
The race had been created to serve as a final prep for Big Brown en route to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on October 25. Big Brown's victory, though, did not make a deep impression on bookmakers.
Coral cut him to 4-1 joint-favourite with Curlin, but most were content to leave Curlin, Duke Of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator ahead of him in betting on the Classic.
Kent Desormeaux, who sent Big Brown to the lead at the start, said of his latest victory: "Except for his last race, the Haskell, I've never asked him to break.
“Today when the gates opened I chirped at him and he responded. It made a huge difference going into that first turn when Get Serious left his side. When that happened he focused and calmed down.
"I think he showed you what kind of heart he's got. When Proudinsky did get to hisneck I knew I had him. My horse just resurged and kept digging all the way to the wire."
Desormeaux added of the change in Big Brown since he was eased in the Belmont Stakes in June, having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness: "If the Breeders' Cup were today, he would be ready.
“He has come full circle since whatever happened in the Belmont Stakes. He just doesn't care what is under his feet. He's multi-talented. He just loves to be a racehorse. He doesn't like getting beat."
Trainer Rick Dutrow said: "I thought he put on a huge effort. Those horses looked like they had him turning for home, and he just wouldn't let them get by. It's something we haven't seen with him before.
"In my mind, it sets him up very good. He looks like he put out a gut-wrenching performance, but we've got the 40 days and that's what you need for him to get over a race and train up to the next one.
"This race was not the end of the world for us, but we needed it for timing for the next race.
“To win it was great. Now we can go to the next race full of confidence. All he needs to do is like that track."
BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC
William Hill: 7-2 Curlin, 4 Big Brown, Duke Of Marmalade, 5 Henrythenavigator, 8 Colonel John, Go Between, Zenyatta, 10 Commentator, 12 Mambo In Seattle, 14 bar.