It’s been a relatively slow Monday. All of us are chomping at the bit to start dissecting the Belmont as soon as post positions are drawn on Wednesday. However, even that right of passage is starting to feel a little anti-climactic this year, as nearly everyone agrees that we’re as close to a sure-thing Triple Crown winner as we’ve ever been.
In just a matter of days, BIg Brown will take to the track and stare down not only the other horses, but 30 years of history rife with heartbreaking upsets. There are some that are predicting doom for the son of Boundary – that his quarter crack, historical foot problems, or perhaps a new challenger like Casino Drive will spoil the fun and keep the sport in a collective 3-decade coma as it searches for it’s next Triple Crown winner.
I’m going to come right out and say this. I know I’ve been on both sides of the fence with this guy, imploring folks to support him and then calling on his trainer to show a bit more class with his comments. One may be more than a tad confused exactly where my sentiments lie with the subject of Big Brown. I’ve tried to clarify as much as possible that I love the horse and think he’s an amazing athlete, but have a rough time backing some of his connections. Still, sometimes I think the message comes across as something less than clear.
Well, let this be very clear then. What I expect to happen on Saturday is not a mere Triple Crown victory. It’s not going to be a close-call, or an unimpressive romp over less than stellar quality. No, far from it, I expect that this weekend will be the defining moment of Big Brown’s career. I think we’re going to see him do exactly what we’ve wanted to see form the start of the Triple Crown hype. He’s going to look into the eye of a contender bred for the upset, and he’s going to deny said contender any chance of stealing his glory.
I’ve run the race over in my head a few times, and I keep coming up with Big Brown and Casino Drive getting wonderful stalking trips, sitting just off the leaders. In my mind I see Casino Drive trying to get the jump on Big Brown by firing first. I can see Desormeaux asking Big Brown to go run down Prado and Casino Drive, and I can see Big Brown responding almost effortlessly.
To be truthful, this may well be the biggest challenge he has faced thus far, but if anything was going to derail this horse’s march to victory it was going to be the 20 hole in the Derby. Once he got passed that test, the rest was academic. I expect Big Brown to devour Casino Drive in the stretch, and end up pulling away by an impressive margin. I expect the crowd at Belmont to be mesmerized with having witnessed an event in history that many of them may not ever see the likes of again. I expect to see Big Brown’s best race.
Is there a part of me that is slightly jealous? I think that’s fair to say. In my heart of hearts I wanted to see Curlin in this position last year. I’ve no doubt in my mind that Curlin would’ve destroyed the same crop of 3 year-olds that Big Brown has run through this year.
However, I mustn’t let that detract from Big Brown, for Saturday will be his day, and as much as I may cringe when his trainer speaks, no amount of bombastic commentary can diminish what we are about to behold.
It’s been a long time in the making, racing fans. Get the cigars and champagne ready. On Saturday we break the Triple Crown curse. Take it to the bank – it’s as sure a thing as you’ll ever get in horse racing.