Big Brown gobbled up a few peppermints
and did some leisurely laps around his barn Sunday while
camera-snapping admirers gawked at the dominant winner of the
What they saw was a colt who defied Derby history with his
4¾-length victory a day earlier. Big Brown became the first horse
since the filly Regret in 1915 to win the Derby off just three
career starts and the second to win from post position No. 20.
"I don't know who's going to beat him," said Graham Motion,
who trained 19th-place Adriano. "To win off three starts ... even
Curlin could not do that."
Next up is the Preakness on May 17 against a slew of well-rested
competitors since Big Brown has scared off virtually all of his 19
"He'll go to the Preakness as one of the most overwhelming
favorites," said trainer Nick Zito, whose Derby horses finished
seventh and 15th, respectively. "You can't say enough good things.
He was tremendous."
Big Brown accelerated to the lead at the top of the stretch and
was never challenged while putting away the rest of the field with
an explosive finishing kick under jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Big Brown trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was overwhelmed by 48 text
messages and 29 voicemails congratulating him on his first Derby
victory. "I don't return any of them," he said, smiling.
Things were somber over at Larry Jones' barn less than 24 hours
after filly Eight Belles finished second and then broke both front
ankles while galloping out a quarter of a mile past the wire. She
was euthanized on the track.
"I keep looking and she ain't in there, so I know she ain't
coming back," he said, nodding toward his barn.
After an autopsy, the dark gray filly will be cremated. Jones
was unsure of owner Rick Porter's plans to inter her ashes,
although he said Churchill Downs had offered a spot at the track.
Jones accepted condolences from passers-by while still mystified
about what caused Eight Belles' breakdown.
"If she'd have broke one leg, she could have definitely had a
shot at trying to be saved," he said. "But with both of them
going, there was no chance in the world. She was on the ground, she
was never going to get up."
Dutrow sympathized with Jones' loss, having been through similar
"So much goes into being around them all the time and knowing
them and seeing how they go out there and perform for you," he
said. "It hurts."
Dutrow had pretty much guaranteed Big Brown's Derby win, but he
was subdued a day later while considering the two-week gap between
the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
"I can't stand it, but it doesn't matter because we got to do
it," he said outside the Churchill Downs barn where Big Brown will
train until shipping to Baltimore's Pimlico on May 14.
"I'm kind of worried. You've got to come right back off that
huge, huge race. I know it looks like he's the best horse, but
Pimlico's a different game."
Told that Dutrow doesn't like Pimlico's track, Zito joked, "If
he hates it so much, tell him to stay home and I'll take his
Big Brown is 4-0 in his brief career, winning by a total of 33¾
lengths. But Dutrow was cautious in assessing his colt's potential
to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont and give racing its first
Triple Crown winner in 30 years.
"I don't see that he beat a great Derby field, so I wouldn't
know how to judge things," he said. "Like Secretariat (in 1973),
that was best crop I've ever seen in my life, and he beat 'em - he
took 'em to the cleaners every time he ran against them. I'm not
one to compare him against past horses. It just wasn't a strong
Derby field other than our horse."
Eight rested horses likely await Big Brown in Baltimore,
including Lexington Stakes winner Behindatthebar, trained by Todd
Pletcher, and San Rafael winner El Gato Malo.
Zito plans to send Stevil, fourth in the Blue Grass. He'll be
joined by Kentucky Bear, third in the Blue Grass; Count Fleet
winner Giant Moon; Withers winner Harlem Rocker; California Derby
winner Yankee Bravo; and Tres Borrachos, third in the Arkansas
The only Derby holdover may be Recapturetheglory, who was fifth
Saturday, although trainer Louie Rousell II was leaning toward
giving his colt a 30-day vacation.
Dutrow ticked off the reasons why he considers the Preakness to
"Maybe there's going to be some hotshot speed horse in there,
maybe it will rain, it will be sloppy, maybe some other horse will
really like it," he said.
The Derby winner has finished first in the 1 1-16-mile Preakness
six times in the last 11 runnings.
In his own way, Jones will be rooting for Big Brown to win the
"It would let our filly go out in a blaze of glory," he said.