NEW YORK (AP) - Big Brown is on his way back to the races, his
next start set for the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on
Less than two weeks after Big Brown's Triple Crown attempt ended
with an inexplicable last-place finish in the Belmont Stakes,
co-owner Paul Pompa Jr. said the Haskell on the Jersey Shore will
mark the colt's return.
"The race fits his style," Pompa said Thursday. "We were
disappointed after the Belmont, and we needed to regroup. We did
and the Haskell is the plan."
Big Brown has been training daily at Aqueduct Racetrack, while
his poor performance in the Belmont remains a mystery to the owners
and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.
"Big Brown is healthy and our plan right now is to keep racing
him this summer and fall," Dutrow said in a statement to a
congressional committee investigating horse racing safety.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner never seemed comfortable
in the 1½-mile Belmont, and jockey Kent Desormeaux eased up with a
The choice of the 1 1-8-mile Haskell over the 1¼-mile Travers
Stakes on Aug. 23 at Saratoga was made based on the track and
"Monmouth is a speed-favoring track and it's comparable to
Gulfstream Park, which Big Brown is fond of," Pompa said, a
reference to Big Brown's two overpowering wins at the Florida track
before the Triple Crown races. "And the spacing between races sets
up other options."
Michael Iavarone, co-president of majority owners IEAH Stables,
told the Daily Racing Form that it's hotter and more humid at
Saratoga, while it's likely to be cooler at Monmouth Park in
Oceanport, N.J. Temperatures on Belmont day reached into the 90s,
with oppressive humidity.
Bob Kulina, Monmouth Park's general manager, was delighted by
"It will make it our biggest day of the year and a huge day for
New Jersey racing and Monmouth Park," he said. "We have been
fortunate to get some good horses. Hopefully, our luck will
Running in early August also leaves open the possibility of
another race before the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25
at Santa Anita - Big Brown's final start before he is retired to
stud at Three Chimneys in Kentucky. Pompa said the Jockey Club Gold
Cup at Belmont on Sept. 27 is an option.
Desormeaux, criticized by some for his ride in the Belmont, is
expected to retain the mount.
"There's been no discussion on replacing him," Pompa said.
Monmouth Park initiated a Triple Crown race bonus a few years
ago that will pay the owners and Dutrow $50,000 each to run their
colt in the Haskell. The bonus is worth $25,000 for each Triple
Crown race victory.
When Big Brown's breeding rights deal was announced last month,
Iavarone said the colt would not run next year as a 4-year-old.
There had been speculation Big Brown's final race would be the
Belmont, but Iavarone has said as long as Big Brown is healthy he
would continue racing through the Breeders' Cup Classic.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)