Owner Michael Iavarone commenting on the “strained” relationship between he and trainer Rick Dutrow
Most of the news circulating around top 3-year-old Big Brown is that, to put it plainly, “he’s back.” The famed son of Boundary put in a scintillating 6 furlong workout over the main track at Aqueduct on Saturday in 1:10.96.
The workout all but confirms that the temporary setback he suffered in the Belmont during his much publicized run for a Triple Crown seems to be behind him. Up next is the Haskell Invitational on August 3rd – a race that will be nationally televised due to interest in Big Brown.
What folks may have missed, however, unless they were watching the ABC/ESPN coverage of the Saturday racing action at Saratoga is that drama still surrounds the colt’s every move.
Owner Michael Iavarone was shown in an interview segment commenting that prior to the Belmont it was a “done deal” that Rick Dutrow was being removed from horses such as Big Brown. He even went on to say that he called Dutrow and indicated he “needed the horses back.”
I thought his statement about Dutrow’s reply was telling of Rick’s character. He claimed Dutrow indicated “that’s not good for Rick Dutrow.”
In the end, Iavarone says that cooler heads prevailed and that he was advised by others to remember all of the success they’d had together. The sticking point seems to be that Iavarone wanted to make something of a splash by announcing that IEAH stables was going “steroid free.” One week before he (Iavarone) was to make the announcement that IEAH had reached this decision, Dutrow started mouthing off his famed comments that were perceived as joking about how he always gives his horses steroids.
Iavarone concluded by saying that the relationship between he and Dutrow is “strained.”
Now the absolute best part for those that have learned to despise Dutrow came about 20 minutes after this interview segment. Prior to the Whitney, Dutrow was interviewed in the paddock. He was asked point black about the strained relationship with Iavarone and replied “I didn’t realize it was strained.”
Trainer Rick Dutrow following Iavarone’s interview
Reality television doesn’t get any better than this.
Taken aback, the ESPN reporter then followed with “is it true he called you and wanted the horses back?”
Dutrow’s response: “No.”
Now to be fair, I’ve been a bit hard on Rick in recent months and don’t want to appear as a shark circling the waters. Let’s be honest – what was he supposed to say? He can’t go out there and say he hates working for a guy that gives him horses like Big Brown and Benny the Bull. Plus, I’m sure at some level even Dutrow realizes that at this point the best policy is to just shut his mouth and let his horses do the talking, so can we really criticize him for doing just that? It would seem hard to do so in my opinion. After all, that’s what we’ve been calling on him to do for months now.
The whole thing is really, in a word, unfortunate – but no doubt it will pop back up as ESPN covers the Haskell on August 3rd. It’s just too juicy and gossipy not to. For now though, one thing I think you can guarantee from the way folks are fawning over Big Brown’s recent workout is that the colt will return and absolutely crush the Haskell. It just seems like a foregone conclusion at this time.
Who knows, that might be the best thing that could happen for the sport It would make folks pay attention to a name they know heading into the final prep months for the Breeder’s Cup Classic, and maybe – just maybe it might incite a new round of Curlin/Big Brown talk with the Woodward looming at Saratoga in late August. Who knows? We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Just sit back over the next few weeks and enjoy the never-ending roller coaster that is IEAH, Dutrow, and Big Brown.