Big Brown trainer making bold predictions

NEW YORK (AP) - Already convinced Big Brown will be the first
Triple Crown champion in three decades, Rick Dutrow Jr. is now
predicting when it will be safe to start celebrating at the Belmont
Stakes.
"I have to think if he ever gets the lead in the Belmont the
race is going to be over," Big Brown's trainer said Friday. "I
can't see any horse coming up and catching him."
What he's not sure of is exactly when his unbeaten Kentucky
Derby and Preakness winner will be taken to the front by jockey
Kent Desormeaux.
If there's no other horse capable of keeping up with Big Brown
early in the 1½-mile Belmont on June 7, "that's only going to help
us, make things easier on us.
"I'm not saying we're in a hurry to make the lead," Dutrow
added. "At any point, when he's got a head in front, I just can't
see someone coming and catching him."
Time and again, Dutrow has said there isn't a 3-year-old in the
same class as Big Brown, not even Casino Drive, the unbeaten horse
from Japan likely to be the second betting choice in what could be
a 10-horse field.
After Big Brown returned from a third straight morning gallop
around Belmont Park, Dutrow continued to marvel at his colt, whose
dappled coat gleamed in the morning sun.
"Look how good he looks. He just looks unbelievable," Dutrow
said. "I can't believe I'm training a horse that looks this good
and has done what he's done. Forget about it. There's no way in the
world there's any horse that's doing any better than Big Brown.
It's impossible."
Big Brown still has stainless steel sutures on the inside of his
slightly cracked left front hoof, but hasn't missed a beat since he
resumed training Tuesday after missing three days because of the
injury.
"Not an issue," Dutrow says over and over again when asked if
the injury could affect Big Brown's performance.
In fact, he said he doesn't see anything standing in Big Brown's
quest to join the likes of Affirmed, Seattle Slew and Secretariat
as Triple Crown champions.
A wet track?
"He would love it. It would work to our advantage," Dutrow
said.
Post position?
"I don't even care about the post position," he said.
Anything?
"If they said, 'Rick, we're going to run the Belmont on the
grass this year, I'd say that'd be fine,"' he said. "We don't
need to worry. He will handle things."
Big Brown has dominated all five of his races. He cruised to a
4¾-length victory in the Derby and wasn't asked to exert himself in
the stretch. Two weeks later, he came back and won the Preakness by
5¼ lengths under wraps after briefly getting caught behind horses
around the first turn.
"No matter what you want him to do he's going to do for you,"
Dutrow said. "I think it helped (the Preakness). Every time you
see him doing the things he does, it's unbelievable. He's not
supposed to be doing the things he does."
Can Big Brown overwhelm the Belmont field and win by a huge
margin, perhaps approaching Secretariat's record 31-length win in
1973?
"He's a really good racehorse and just hasn't been lining up
with other really good racehorses," Dutrow said. "That's why he
separates himself."
When Dutrow was about to be asked about the length of the
Belmont, he didn't even need to hear the entire question.
"There's going to be more separation," he said. "The longer
they go the better off for us."
On Thursday, Dutrow said it was a "foregone conclusion" that
Big Brown would become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed
in 1978.
"To me, I just see the horses he's in with and I see our
horse," he said. "So I expect him to win this race."
FINISH LINES: Macho Again, winner of the Derby Trial and
runner-up in the Preakness, worked a half-mile in 48.20 seconds at
Churchill Downs on Friday. Trainer Dallas Stewart said the colt
would be shipped to Belmont on Tuesday. ... Dutrow said Big Brown
will have his final tuneup for the Belmont - a 5-furlong workout -
Monday or Tuesday.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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