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Monday, October 13, 2008

Not Great

- Big Brown will go to stud, for something around 50-75K, I'd guess. I'd be surprised if even these guys have the temerity to ask for more than that, given the son of Boundary's incomplete resume and woeful feet. The colt's injury does not sound career threatening in itself, but I suppose the history of his fragile hooves makes retirement the appropriate course of action.

What IEAH is missing out on in my opinion is the chance for their horse to be called 'great.' It's a designation he could possibly have earned even in defeat had he faced the world's best in the Classic. Lacking that however, I think he's stuck on 'talented.' OK, 'extremely talented' if you will. And throw in 'enigmatic.' Or 'mercurial.' His bad post wins in the Florida and Kentucky Derbies hinted at greatness, even if the competition has turned out to be less than spectacular. But his Belmont flame-out was maddening, his Haskell win determined but decidedly unspectacular, his Monmouth Stakes victory merely a tease over a surface over which he was not intended to compete upon again. He leaves with far more questions than answers, and that's not the stuff of racing immortality, other than to forever wonder how good he could have been....or not.

Similarly, I don't believe that Big Brown can now earn Horse of the Year, even if Curlin runs poorly. And I think he's the three-year old champ, even if Casino Drive should win the Classic (though that would be an arguable point).

The rest of us are obviously missing out on what would have been the most intriguing matchup on the Breeders' Cup card. The prospect of Big Brown and Curlin finally meeting has provided most of the limited amount of excitement around this year's Breeders' least regarding the races on Saturday. The Filly Friday concept just looks worse and worse every day, don't it?

However, having recovered from the initial shock, it's true, the Classic could still be an intriguing race in that it presents a new and fresh challenge for the reigning Horse of the Year. You may be as skeptical as I regarding the true worth of Go Between, and the others who have run strictly out west. But there's no question that Go Between is a formidable horse on the California synthetic circuit who presents a worthy challenge for Curlin, trying fake dirt for the first time.

And then there's Casino Drive....and, though he certainly adds some intrigue, no, I'm still not buying it.


Anonymous said...

Everytime I think I have a sure bet I eat crow. The Classic is no exception. Big Brown in the mix would have made it so much more fun and special for sure, or nerve wracking depending on who you are. Big Brown would have given everthing he had and more that I am convinced of. Curlin's legacy would have been monstrous after a kick ass win over Big Brown.(what...?)
I don't know, but Big Brown is not the only one hurting here.

Anonymous said...

Not sure Big Brown could have earned "great" even with a win/brave defeat in the Classic. He'd still be on the list of exceptionally talented, with potential, which is where he'll now always remain.

Anonymous said...

I'll give you "talented". He ranks right up there between Funny Cide and Prarie Bayou on my list of all time greats.

Anonymous said...

The BC is now just another Grade I stakes race, just as it should be. I am against the BC-Super Bowl mentality and want to see a return to a Grade I circuit where points are earned for wins, places, shows, and graded according to Grade I status including purse money. Whoever has the most points and money earned at the end of the year wins the Eclipse. This means that we won't have another Big Phony dodging the big Grade I's en route to an anticipated BC Classic win guaranteed Eclipse. And it gives all of the big league tracks a day or 2 in the sun every season with the big name horses shipping in. Each track has a chance to build it's fan base instead of promoting the Breeders Cup as the be all, end all of horse racing. In NY, NYRA can start by re-building the status and prestige of the Belmont Stakes, an historic Grade I which in no way should be run in the shadow of the KY Derby.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear your views on the Aga's decision to retire Zarkava. I find it ridiculous that he is ending a great horse's career prematurely to perhaps gain one extra foal-a foal that may end up running for a $4K tag at some backwater track. At least with a stallion the quantity makes the trade off make more sense.