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There’s always next year

June 9, 2008

Once again, I’ve missed out on seeing something that proved all too common in my father’s lifetime — a Tripe Crown winning horse.

The mile-and-a-half long track at Belmont proved too much for Big Brown and his cracked right hoof and it will be at least 31 years since Affirmed last one the Triple Crown.

Watching the race, my stomach in knots, I knew that Big Brown didn’t have it right out of the gate when he was running in third going into the first turn. In the Derby and in the Preakness, the horse had never run that far ahead that early in the race and I didn’t think the colt had the stamina to last the mile and a half at that pace. Going into the backstretch, it was clear that Big Brown wasn’t going to pull away from the field as he had at Churchill Downs and Pimlico.

There is a silver lining to this story, though. Big Brown’s jockey, Kent Desormeaux, said at the end of the race that he could tell that he didn’t have a horse and wasn’t going to push the horse coming down the stretch and eased up, riding the horse to a last place finish. Desormeaux, with that decision, may have single-handedly saved horse racing in America. Had he pushed the horse coming down that home stretch and had the horse had a catastrophic injury on par with what happened to Eight Belles and Barbaro, horse racing in America would be dead. Congress would get involved, because they don’t have better things to do with rising unemployment and gas at $4.00 a gallon, and the sport would be legislated out of business. By saving the horse and insuring that he lives a happy live running around on a farm somewhere and making lots of expensive baby horses, Desormeaux saved his sport.

Though, I regret that I have yet to see a horse when the Triple Crown, I can’t say that I’m all that sad to see Big Brown’s windbag, pompous, insufferable trainer Rick Dutrow denied a place in horse racing history. I found his smug, frankly sore loser attitude after his horse, you know the one he had guaranteed a victory for at the Belmont just weeks before, trotted to a last place appalling. The fact that he had the nerve to tell reporters “don’t even think about it” when they tried to interview him after the race makes me a little glad that his horse lost. When he was on top, you couldn’t pay this guy to stop running his mouth. I’ll be able to see Dutrow fade into obscurity.

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