Big Brown, the undefeated son of Boundary, rolled to a scintillating 5 1/4 length victory in Saturday’s 133rd Preakness Stakes to take home the second jewel of the prestigiousTriple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing. All that stands in his way from a date with destiny (one that has been 30 years in the making for horse racing fans) is the Belmont Stakes 3 weeks from now. I know where I’ll be – and if you want to be a part of history you’ll be there as well.
I haven’t even watched the replay below yet. Let me just say that from where I was watching, I didn’t even see jockey Kent Desormeaux use the whip. I think he may have tapped him a couple of times at the top of the stretch very lightly, but that’s it. The bulk of the stretch run was a coasting handride.
Desormeaux had a tight hold of Big Brown early in the race as he chased Gayego along the backstretch. When asked for his run, all it took was a few tugs on the reins and he left the rest of the field in his wake. Folks, this horse could’ve won by a dozen lengths if he wanted to. It was that impressive.
The final time for the Preakness was 1:54.80, which is about 1.4 seconds off the track record. I think this colt could’ve threatened that track record if they had wanted to. The fact that Kent Desormeaux barely had to ask him for anything can only have saved some horse for the Belmont.
The only hurdle left would appear to be Casino Drive and a daunting stretch in the 1 1/2 mile Belmont, a stretch where we’ve seen other impressive colts like Smarty Jones and Curlin go down to close defeats. I know that the next round of doubts about Big Brown will likely be regarding the distance of the Belmont. Can he get 1 1/2 miles? I think jockey Alex Solis said it best when he stated “He already has!” followed by a reference to Big Brown coming from the 20 hole in the Derby. Well said, Alex. I have a tough time envisioning any hurdle this colt can’t overcome. It would indeed appear we have ourselves a tremendous shot at a Triple Crown winner this year.
As for the rest of the day, the wife and I were tremendously pleased. We were hitting trifectas left and right. We started off with a tough loss in the 1st race, which after the shellacking I took yesterday almost destroyed my confidence, but luckily we were able to take home the early Pick 4 (thanks to a saver by Amy in race 4 that I begrudgingly included in our ticket). I got to cash my first Preakness Pick 6 ticket! It was a meager $19 (consolation for having 5 of 6 correct), but I was still pleased considring it was only a $12 ticket to begin with. The same 19-1 longshot that knocked us out of the late pick 4 also burned our hopes in the pick 6. Oh well…I didn’t see that guy coming from a mile away.
We had a fantastic view of the horses as they saddled for the Preakness. I’m not sure what the hold up was but the other runners were on the track for a good 10 minutes before Gayego and Riley Tucker came out to be saddled. I’ve heard that Gayego can be a handful, although I”m not sure if that had anything to do with it.
Kentucky Bear looked very impressive to me in the post parade, but unfortunately didn’t quite show up as expected during the race. I think he’s still got room to improve though being so lightly raced. Icabad Crane proved he was the “horse for the course” by rallying from 12th in the early going to get up for 3rd at the wire.
Beyond that, I got to have some drinks with a part owner of Big Brown, and got to shake Kent Desormeaux’s hand after the race. He actually walked right up to where I was standing as he was exiting the winner’s circle. Pretty cool, huh? Also got to meet a number of fascinating fans. I’m telling you, the Turfside Terrace is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. The grandstand was posh and a good experience last year, but in my opinion the TT (Turfside Terrace) is where it’s at.
Here’s some photos we took of the big day. It was next to impossible to photograph the Preakness post parade from where we were due to the wall of people in front of us on the track. In looking at these, I think we’d be disgracing the art of photography if we even called these “amateur-ish”, but nonetheless, here are a few of the sights we were able to save for posterity (click on the thumbnails to view full-size images):
1. The replica of the original clubhouse at Pimlico – where the winner is awarded the trophy for winning the Preakness.
2. Big Brown’s saddling area at roughly 8 AM Preakness morning. Note that the crowds had not yet arrived. We (Amy and I) were the first visitors into the Turfside Terrace (after a brief foray through the infamous infield from our parking space near Rogers Ave.) and I snapped this thinking “this just might be the saddling area for the 1st Triple Crown winner in 30 years.”
3. Big Brown showing off his big brown rear-end to Amy on his way to the winner’s circle. (it was madness trying to get this photo).
4. Icabad Crane (finished in 3rd) during the post parade.
5. Tres Borrachos during the Preakness post parade.
6. The official artwork/poster for the 133rd Preakness.
7. One of the special-forces parachutists making his landing (can’t remember if they were Air force or Navy, and I know I’d offend the hell out of ‘em if I got it wrong.) These guys were great – plus it was great to see how appreciative of our military personnel the crowd in the TT was. Whenever a uniformed person walked towards the main tent, they’d be greetedwith a chorus of cheers, handshakes, or “thank you”s.
8. The jumbo-tron and Preakness logo – actually taken on Friday when I was there all by my lonesome.
9. I know what you’re thinking – “dude, where’s the actual race photos?” Well, with our crappy little camera and from our vantage point, it wasn’t possible to get any “good” shots. For what it’s worth, here’s one we “tried” to take (with “tried” being the operative term). This is a random shot from one of the the under-card races. By the time you get to the Preakness at 6 PM, the place is too packed to get even these.
10. Amy and I after a long day of betting (and winning). You can see the 13th race is about 7 minutes to post in the background. This way, if you ever run into us at the track, you can say “hey, aren’t you that guy on that blog?” :)