Just like everybody else, I follow horse racing as a casual fan, focusing on the Triple Crown. I do follow some of the other races during the year, the Florida and Arkansas Derby, the Travers Stakes and the Breeders Cup. I watch the races and read a bunch about the different competitions. I’ve been to the track to see races in person, a must when it comes to that sport. The horses are so impressive and for the most part, the people involved are totally committed to the sport and the animals involved.
We’ve been talking about the next “Super Horse” for a while, from Spectacular Bid to Smarty Jones with 30 years gone by without another Triple Crown winner. It’s the longest stretch in history without a winner of all three races. I thought Afleet Alex was that horse in 2005, but he just didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby but went on to win the Preakness and the Belmont. Three races in five weeks seem like a lot, and it is when it comes to 3-year-old thoroughbreds.
I’ve heard that the sport has changed in the past couple of decades with breeding turned toward speed instead of endurance. That might explain some of the failures in the Belmont at 1 and a half miles but Saturday’s race with Big Brown was different.
Big Brown looked like a super horse in the Derby and the Preakness. Whenever Kent Desmoreaux asked him to run, he took off like he was turbocharged. When he broke from the gate at the Belmont though, he didn’t look right from the start. Big Brown has a beautiful stride and great gait but it wasn’t on display in New York. He looked uncoordinated during the whole trip. Even though he had a smooth ride and was sitting in the right spot at third coming to the final turn, he was already laboring.
It didn’t have anything to do with the distance; something was going on with the horse. There had been a lot of talk about Big Brown taking Winstrol, a steroid about once a month. It’s legal for horses in most states. Big Brown’s last injection was on April 15th, two weeks before the derby. Who knows if that had a negative effect on his run after it was out of his system but he just didn’t run?
“When I came to the final turn and asked him to go, I just didn’t have any horse,” Desmoreaux said immediately after the race. When he went to let him out, nothing happened. In fact he went backwards.
The weird thing is, Big Brown looked the part. He looked different than the other thoroughbreds. He looked big and strong, kind of like Secretariat. But he didn’t run like a Super Horse. He just didn’t run.
Have you ever gone for a run and just felt completely uncoordinated the whole time? It looked like that from the start. I don’t think Desmoreaux had anything to do with the ride. In fact, I thought he was masterful; especially when he pulled Big Brown up once the cause was lost.
Maybe the answer is to spread the races out since the breeding habits have changed. Maybe a standardized drug program is the right way to go. But whatever it is, the sport needs a fix up.
Affirmed, and even Alydar seemed like Super Horses and maybe they were bred to win the Triple Crown but there’s nothing like them out there now.