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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Big Brown Has Big Possibilities

- Three Chimneys showed off Big Brown this week; his services are available for $65,000 a shot. The Form reported that those who inspected the Derby winner during an open house on Wednesday were impressed, in some cases, surprisingly so.

Controversy has followed Big Brown throughout his three-year old year, and his coming studly service is no different. Many have derided the idea of a horse with such fragile feet passing his genes along; and one wacko group actually suggested he be castrated. But even his more lucid detractors see him as a poster boy for what they see as the fragile nature of the current breed.

But personally, I'm excited about his prospects as a stallion. He proved able to handle both dirt and turf, and, as we've noted on numerous occasions, his pedigree goes far beyond his inbreeding to Northern Dancer, inbred to Round Table and Damascus, with a dab of the likes of Forli and Roberto, as he is. Pedigree Goddess and current Three Chimneys pedigree expert Anne Peters, from whom, along with Alan Porter, I've learned what little I know about breeding, delivers a long dissertation on the stallion on the Three Chimneys website here. (Their classic book Patterns of Greatness II is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject if you can find it.)

Since I'm not particularly intrigued by the concept of adding even more Northern Dancer to the mix, I focused more on the sections on the outcross possibilities - Big Brown is completely free of Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew, to start. Ms. Peters discourages the addition of more Damascus ("he's not a premier source of soundness"), opting instead for supplementing the Round Table or Roberto blood there. Since Round Table is the sire of Poker, the broodmare sire of Seattle Slew, the possibilities of that line, most prominently through AP Indy, seem encouraging. Whatsmore, the latter's son Pulpit descends directly from Monarchy, a full sister to Round Table. I encourage you to check out Ms. Peters' piece if you're so inclined (keeping in mind that it's her job at Three Chimneys to play up the positives of as many angles as possible).

The Three Chimneys site has a hypomating feature, and it's fun to play around with some hypopossibilities, especially with respect to future broodmare prospects. For example: A mating between Big Brown and Zenyatta, a daughter of the Mr. Prospector stallion Street Cry, would create inbreeding to Roberto and Forli, and add another strain of Princequillo (the sire of Round Table). A mating with Music Note, a daughter of AP Indy, would create the Rasmussen Effect (inbred to State, the dam of Big Brown's broodmare sire Nureyev), and compliment the Round Table/Princequillo blood through her sire line and the presence of Secretariat (whose broodmare sire is Princequillo). For those "willing to roll the dice" in the words of Ms. Peters, Goldikova or Forever Together would create 3x3 inbreeding to Danzig, yikes. And IEAH might one day, hopefully not too soon, consider their own Stardom Bound, a daughter of the Pulpit sire Tapit as she is.

- Ray Kerrison made a quite coherent case for Big Brown as Horse of the Year in the NY Post on Saturday. I have to agree that either Curlin or Zenyatta would seem less than satisfying choices to me given the way things played out....especially Zenyatta, who beat up on a lackluster distaff division all year long and declined to try the boys. And, as Kerrison points out, Big Brown won as many Grade 1's as either, including the Derby, the biggest 1 of them all. I found Kerrison's questioning of Big Brown's less-than-spectacular Beyers to be most interesting. He points out that Thoro-graph's Jerry Brown rated his 20-post Derby win as "the greatest Derby since we began charting races in 1982." And of the Preakness, he writes:

Big Brown scraped bottom with a shocking 100 Beyer. That's 18 points below the all-time Beyer Preakness champ, Smarty Jones, who won in 2004 with a 118.

Now get this: Both horses ran their Preaknesses on fast tracks, Big Brown ran the trip more than one full second faster than Smarty Jones (while under wraps through the last furlong), yet he gets 18 fewer Beyer points than Smarty Jones. That is incomprehensible. [NY Post]


Anonymous said...

Didn't Big Brown's sire retire due to feet issues also? $65,000 to breed to two generations of bad feet, what could possibly go wrong? And how could it possibly be bad for the breed?

Anonymous said...

Steroid driven race horse. Wouldn't breed my pet mare to BB.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a dog in this HOY hunt, but I agree... the drugs cast a long shadow.

The other problem I have with Big Brown is that he had one job this year, and one job only, to win the Triple Crown. For whatever reason, drugs or shoes or poor conditioning, or whatever, he failed.

Curlin ? Maybe it doesn't mean much, but it seems pretty significent to me at least, that in spite of losing the BC, the latest rankings from the IFHA (as of 4 Novemember) still have him number one in the world.
Big Brown is 6th.

steve in nc said...

Are you seriously saying that winning 2 of the 3 Triple Crown races, then beating older horses and winning on the grass as well isn't so impressive? The manner in which he won the Fl. Derby, Ky Derby & Preakness moves BB up for me.

Curlin's Dubai race was also incredible. But he doesn't get a free pass on losing the BC classic just because the race was on Pro-Ride. To do that means he's great if he wins; he's just as great if he loses. No. He tried and failed on grass & synthetic and it's not like he ran the table on a long series of impressive dirt races this year.

I give his handlers points for gambling. But in gambling, when you lose, you lose (unless you bet to show). I couldn't vote him on top in HOTY, but third (show).

Changing horses in mid-post, I don't think Ribaudo realizes how good a horse he has in Bribon. (The bettors don't either - the price at AQ on Friday was very generous.) On Sheets & Beyers, he would have been right in the thick of the BC if he could run his top on Pro-Ride, that is.

Anonymous said...

Hey, speaking of Big Brown and steroids, did Dutrow/Iavarone ever indicated wheer he was back on the roids for the Haskell and the made up turf race at Monmouth?

El Angelo said...

Alan, I think it's not really fair to call this year's distaff division "lackluster". At an absolute minimum, Ginger Punch and Hystericalady were as solid and honest mares as we've seen race in recent years, and she beat both of them multiple times. On top of that, she beat Music Note handily in the Distaff. That's eons more impressive than Big Brown's wins over execrable commodities like Macho Again, Denis of Cork, and Shakis.

Anonymous said...

At this point, I'd vote for Pepper's Pride, now 18-0. Hard to remain undefeated in any sport, especially horseracing.

steve in nc said...

El Angelo has me sold. What will the trifecta of Zenyatta, Big Brown and Curlin pay? Pepper's Pride would spice up the superfecta.

Anonymous said...

yeah i don't understand how you say the distaff division was weak. i thought it was the deepest division personally, cocoa beach, ginger punch , carriage trail, hysterical lady, music note and zenyatta. the only one missing was proud spell who has proven to not like aw.

Alan Mann said...

I think that the Distaff division outside of Zenyatta was mediocre. Competitive and consistent types no doubt, but mediocre. Ginger Punch and Hystericalady are strictly Grade 2 types in a deeper year....In my opinion of course. And I say that despite the former's Distaff win last year. I didn't like them last year, and I don't see where either improved in this...and I think their Beyers back me up. Music Note wasn't even the best three-year old and has never won around two turns, and Carriage Trail let me down on the big day. Cocoa Beach is probably a cut above all of these.

El Angelo said...

If the Distaff division was mediocre, I shudder to think what you'd call either the 3yo male or older male divisions. Relative to their competition, Tiago is miles worse than Hystericalady, to say nothing of horses like Wanderin Boy, Past the Point, Fairbanks and Merchant Marine. As for the 3yo males, this is the worst class we've seen at least since 2002, and probably since the early 90's. Not to be a downer, but someone like Mambo in Seattle better develop in the winter, otherwise the handicap division is going to be simply brutal next year.

Anonymous said...

Big Brown, Horse of the Year? Never gonna happen. What he did against a weak crop of 3YO's (except in the Belmont) is fine. But anyone honestly thinking one grass win against Grade III-caliber older milers can trump beating the beat horses in the country in NY or the best in the world at Dubai has to be smoking something a little more organic than oregano.