- Kent Desormeaux initially thought he was off the hook this time.
"Anytime I get beat by less than a length, I think there's absolutely something I could have done different," he said. "That one [his defeat on Real Quiet in 1998] just ate me up. This will never eat me up." [Newsday]As it turns out, that was only his final misjudgment of the day. I don't think it's at all fair to pin the blame solely on the jockey for Big Brown's last place finish in the Belmont. I had enough questions before the race - his quarter crack, his workout with the slow last quarter and lack of gallop-out, the differences within the BB camp as to when to apply the acrylic patch - that I hesitated to pick him and made some small wagers against. However, I certainly don't think that Kent D did the horse any favors, and I'm absolutely convinced that he was totally psyched out by the events of ten years ago when he fell short of a Triple Crown by a nose. "In that one day," Desormeaux said [before Saturday's race], "I learned how not to ride the Belmont." [ESPN]
“Asking (Real Quiet) for that burst of speed so quickly was unnecessary,” Desormeaux said at Wednesday's post position draw. “It's a marathon. It's not about speed. I wouldn't want (Big Brown) to show a big burst. I would just let him lengthen out his stride. He doesn't need to be pressed for more speed, he just needs to be turned loose.” [SignOnSanDiego.com]As I was watching Saturday's race unfold, waiting for Big Brown to make his move, I could almost hear Desormeaux thinking to himself "wait, wait, wait." Unfortunately, by the time he was finally ready to step on the gas, the tank was empty, even at $50 million a gallon.
As to what happened next, I'm not going to criticize Desormeaux for pulling the horse up. I know some disagree, and Michael makes a quite reasoned case that it fit in with the rider's history. However, I thought it was pretty clear at that point that he was going nowhere, and the last thing we needed was another ugly incident. So I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
As for Dutrow, I didn't at all mind his bluster before the races; in fact, I came to find it refreshing in a sport in which the participants are often far too staid. But while it's easy to be classy after a win, the real test comes with adversity, and Dutrow is failing this one as badly as his horses have flunked their drug tests in the past. Time for the trainer to get real quiet himself.
- Michael Iavarone indicates that Big Brown may be headed to the Haskell rather than the Travers; these days, that's usually an either/or rather than a both. But don't worry Saratoga fans. Nick Zito says that both Da'Tara and Anak Nakal will be pointed there. He'll probably throw in another