Big Brown wins Classic prep on turf
REPORT: USA, Saturday
Monmouth Park: Monmouth Stakes, 1m1f turf
CLASS told on Saturday night as Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown came through his Breeders' Cup Classic prep unscathed as he held off the turf specialists for a cosy victory on the grass at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Surprisingly, jockey Kent Desormeaux sent America's top three-year-old straight to the front in the $500,000 Monmouth Stakes, a race created specially for Big Brown, who was taken on in the early stages by the no-hoper Get Serious and hustled into some fairly quick fractions.
Big Brown eventually shook clear at halfway but Desormeaux's tactics looked questionable as the closers loomed after turning into the stretch.
However, the 3-5 favourite was both good and brave enough to get his rider out of jail, and had only to be kept up to his work to hold the late challenges of solid Grade 2 performers Proudinsky and Shakis and score by a neck. His career record now stands at seven wins from eight starts, the only defeat being that abject effort in the Belmont Stakes that cost him the Triple Crown.
With the Breeders' Cup Classic due to be run for the first time this year on an all-weathersurface at Santa Anita on October 25, the Big Brown team opted to run him on turf as a prep. Many US racing folk consider racing on turf is closer to a synthetic surface than traditional dirt, but Big Brown had not raced on the grass since his scoring onhis career debut at Saratoga in August 2007.
Desormeaux claimed he was never worried about the change in surface. "I said in the paddock before the race that he would run over anything – I think he'd run on glass," he said in an interview shown on At The Races.
"He just doesn't like getting beat. He showed grit and determination down the lane. It was like he had that other horse on a tow-rope – he wasn't going to get beat."
Desormeaux also paid tribute to a big crowd at New Jersey, which gave Big Brown a rapturous reception.
"I've ridden a lot of horses but never won that gets the same welcome as Big Brown," he said. "Thank you New Jersey."
Michael Iavarone, co-president of majority owners IEAH Stables, said Desormeaux had been under orders to take Big Brown to the lead. He confirmed that Big Brown will now be trained for the Breeders' Cup Classic and a possible clash with Curlin, although the latter has yet to be confirmed an intended runner.
Iavarone has also rebuffed suggestions that Big Brown could race as a four-year-old by confirming the colt will be retired to Three Chimneys at the end of the season.
> > >Music Note scores Grade 1 win for Godolphin
Saturday's only Grade 1 event in the States was the Gazelle Stakes at Belmont Park, won in a canter by Godolphin's Music Note under Javier Castellano.
The daughter of AP Indy trounced three overmatched rivals to record her third Grade 1 success on the dirt at odds of 1-9 in the $250,000 event. The Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (formerly the Distaff) now beckons.
"She is special," said trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, speaking straight after the race on At The Races.
Belmont also hosted two major two-year-old races on Saturday. Charitable Man (Kiaran McLaughlin/Alan Garcia) took a giant stride towards the Breeders' Cup Juvenile when justifying favouritismin the Grade 2 Futurity Stakes, while Doremifasollatido (James Jerkens/Eibar Coa) came out best of the fillies in the Matron Stakes.