RSS Feed for this Blog

Monday, August 04, 2008

Big Brown = Big News

- Any racetrack interested in hosting Big Brown - at least one which has a turf course - listen up to owner Michael Iavarone, who told the Form exactly what he's looking for.

"We're pretty adamant on getting that race in or around the 13th [of September]. We're hoping somebody will create a grass race for us, and I bet you somebody does. There'll be offers to get this horse. You saw yesterday the electricity in that place was awesome yesterday." [DRF]
I'm sure that Iavarone would also be happy to suggest a name for the race - maybe the IEAH Invitational will do - a purse amount, the time of day it's run, and who should televise it. Look, he's got the goods and he knows it. Monmouth was indeed electric on Sunday, and his horse was the reason why. The fact is that Big Brown is thoroughbred racing right now. That's certainly not to say that he's the best horse in training, no matter what Dutrow has to say. But the buzz is all about Big Brown.

Maybe it's because he's the Derby winner, or all the controversy and conflict within his camp, or the fact that he lost the Belmont so spectacularly (reminded me of the keen interest in Niatross' Meadowlands Pace appearance in 1980, which came after he fell over the rail at Saratoga for his first loss). But for whatever reason, Big Brown is The Big News. Jess Jackson tried to steal the show a bit with his "big" announcement on Curlin's next race; but it was comparatively minor news (though a nice consolation for NYRA for the final weekend for which it struggles to generate interest). And, as was the case when Curlin ran in the Man O'War, I don't really expect that his presence at Saratoga will attract more than a few thousand more fans to the track.

With the announcement, Jess Jackson made his "screw you" to all the fans who voted on his website to keep Curlin on the grass official. What exactly the point of the exercise really was I can't say for sure. However, instead of being seen as a genuine attempt to involve his adoring public, it will go down as yet another reason for racing fans to be cynical.

Dutrow's assertion that Big Brown is "way better" than Curlin is just nonsense of course. But it did show that the trainer may be qualified to work on political campaigns. As with the ubiquitous negative campaign ads, his catchy sound bytes all had an element of truth to them, but would require the kind of nuanced and detailed responses that don't go over well in a 60 second commercial.

"Curlin couldn't win the Derby, we could."
Yeah but....Curlin had to face the likes of Street Sense and Hard Spun, and it was only his 4th start, and his physicality and pedigree are such which are more conducive to later development....

"Curlin couldn't win [the Haskell], we could."
Yeah but....again, Curlin faced better horses, and the tight turns and speed favoring nature of the track don't play in his favor....

"Our horse is undefeated on the grass."
Yeah but....that was a freaking maiden race, and Curlin ran in a Grade 1 stakes for crying out loud....

"Curlin got beat [by] a filly. We haven't."
Yeah but....that was in a mile and a half race against a filly specially bred for the distance, AND WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO TALK CONSIDERING THAT BIG BROWN DIDN'T EVEN FINISH....

Yeah, it gets pretty frustrating, as I'm sure the presumptive Democratic nominee will discover as he has to answer to that kind of crap in the next few months too!

- I had Thou Swell, and picked him here when he graduated in his third attempt at 21-1 last month. But no, even if I had been playing the races at Saratoga on Monday, I don't believe I would have had him even for the minor awards in a G2 stakes! I guess one has to consider nearly any horse that George Weaver sends out here these days. Pace makes the race, and Jean-Luc Samyn almost stole the Nat Mus HoF on the front end with splits of 24.17, 25.21, and 25.39 - 1:14.77 to the three quarters. From there it was a sprint home - 23.89 for the next quarter and 11.56 home. So Wesley (El Prado) had to close in 23.13 and 11.31 (this all according to the Web-based Formulator) to get the half length win over Weaver's 26-1 shot. Deal Making may have been best for Graham Motion, missing the place spot by a nose after being bottled up badly mid-stretch. I wonder sometimes if a horse "liking or not liking the turf" has more to do with its genetic ability to handle the surface (whether manifested physically [i.e. 'turf foot'] or not), or the ability to handle the pace scenario, which differs so dramatically from dirt racing nowadays.

Another horse I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had was Adriano, who went off at even money! He's another of those horses that people seemed to have a misplaced fascination with around Derby time, even though his own trainer, Graham Motion, acknowledged that he was better suited for the turf. Now, he's 0 for 2 for Mott.

Pletcher had the proverbial 'fastest horse in the world' with first-time starter Paradise Playgirl, a winner on Monday in her debut at 7-10....and guess who's suddenly leading the trainer standings? That's the Toddster's third two-year old debut winner of the meeting, and his seventh winner, from 27 starters, overall. This is a daughter of the hot rookie sire Speightstown, and that's his 5th winner, according to the Stallion Register. Pletcher also had two stakes winners on the grass Sunday, with J'Ray, who'd disappointed in her last two, taking the Matchmaker at Monmouth, and Red Giant winning the Fourstardave at Saratoga. Watch out for Todd!

12 Comments:

Jessica said...

Calling Jackson's decision a "screw you" to fans who voted on that little poll seems kind of harsh. I mean, did anyone who participated take it for anything more than a bit of PR and fun? Even if someone did, I thought Jackson addressed the subject well in the call, saying the poll showed "a lot of passion" for the horse and being pretty respectful of that ...

alan said...

>>Calling Jackson's decision a "screw you" to fans who voted on that little poll seems kind of harsh.

Jess - Agreed. It's kind of harsh. :-)

But I think he could have made it clear that he was just giving the fans a chance to sound off rather than making it seem like a referendum whose results he'd take into account when making his decision. Which was the impression I got.

SaratogaSpa said...

Gotta agree with you, for whatever reason, the circus around Big Brown has seemed to add to his popularity and people do show up at the track to watch him run-as evidenced by the Haskell. Curlin is great, and I will be at the Woodward to watch him run- but the fans who join me at the rail will be only a modest increase over a non-Curlin Woodward. The Man O War attendance was sad evidence of that.

El Angelo said...

It's tough to tell which owners are less likeable: the crooks at IEAH or the inmates that own Curlin. (Jess Jackson seems like a nice enough guy, I suppose, as does Paul Pompa.)

steve in nc said...

Your man George Weaver had a horse at FL today. Beyond Challenge in the 6th, 9-2 ML. He opened 1-to-9, then despite having never gone as fast early as the two other speeds, got the lead into the turn and ran away, paying $5.30. It might pay to look for early action on his other horses (harder to see in NYRA's bigger pools) although it does seem like anything he sends out is screaming to run. Alan, tell the truth, was that your $750 or so on the opening flash?

Anonymous said...

Alan, perhaps Big Brown is all the rage in racing right now- me excluded- but it really should be Curlin. Curlin has accomplished more in his 2 good seasons (2nd incomplete) than has Big Brown, simple as that. You seem to agree.

Big Brown has an Obama-like resume-embarrassingly thin when it comes to real experience and accomplishments but no matter to his fanatical, true believer connections and followers; just keep saying it is so and sooner or later the sheeple will follow, or so the theory goes.

Every time Big Brown wins a race I want to be happy for him but then his idiotic owner and trainer just go out and piss me off all over again, as they seem to do to you as well. The American culture has come to require over-the-top claims in order to seize the very limited attention span of the media and sheeple.

Horse racing is no different, so it seems, with the "new breed" of owners? But then, thank God for Jess Jackson, a guy who I believe is trying to do the right thing.S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

You forgot that IEAH wants the grass cut to 2 3/8 inches, the ground to be just a tad less than firm, a guarantee of no rain for 72 hours prior to post, no more than 4 challengers, the outside post, the starter standing behind the gate, a weight assingment of 117 pounds and a changing room and new blue shirt for Dutrow.

DC said...

Wouldn't it be hilarious is someone carded that turf stakes for Big Brown, and then Henrythenavigator showed up? Not that it would ever happen in a million years, but i would laugh my ass off if it did.

ljk said...

If Iavarone has a hair on his ass he'll run Big Brown in the Woodward.

And your presumptive Democratic nominee is going to get a magic carpet ride from the adoring media. Don't worry about too many tough questions...

Anonymous said...

"If Iavarone has a hair on his ass he'll run Big Brown in the Woodward."

I'm sure his hair there is just a slicked down as the hair on his head.

Hold All Tickets said...

".... a weight assingment of 117 pounds and a changing room and new blue shirt for Dutrow."

Let's not forget to add exclusive coverage of the "event" by TVG. It's great watching those ass clowns giddily peeing themselves whenever they get to interview Dutrow or Iavarone.

Anonymous said...

Better the unknown in Obama than a wrinkled up old fogey that wants to keep spending a bazillion $ on effing Iraq, you right wing clowns.