A massive colt with a ton of ability has made a resounding claim for American racing’s elusive Triple Crown in a Kentucky Derby tinged with tragedy. Big Brown, the five-length winner of the famous US classic, will be a short-priced favourite to do what so few can do and add the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes to his Kentucky Derby win.
In a season that appears to have less depth among its three-year-old generation than most, Big Brown may just be the colt to do it. On the strength of his Derby win at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, Big Brown looks to have oustanding prospects. The colt came from the outside gate in a field of 20, was never closer than three wide and won as he liked. The 24-10 favourite strode forward from fifth place at the 700m to cruise to the front entering the home straight.
In the run home he extended his lead over the brave but ill-fated filly Eight Belles who held second, 3-1/2 lengths ahead of Denis Of Cork. But as jockey Kent Desormeaux began his Derby celebrations, Eight Belles stumbled and fell to the ground having broken both front fetlocks. The lone filly in the race, she had to be put down, the tragedy made all the more poignant by her courageous effort to beat the other 18 colts in the race.
Eight Belles had also been entered for the Kentucky Oaks run on Friday, but trainer Larry Jones scratched when she drew poorly and gave her the chance for greater glory in the Derby. As it turned out, Eight Belles’ stablemate Proud Spell won the Oaks.
Jockey Gabriel Saez said Eight Belles lost control of her action as they hit the line. “She started galloping funny. I tried to pull her up. That’s when she went down,” Saez said. Racecourse vet Dr Larry Bramlage said there was no prospect of saving the filly. “She literally didn’t have a front leg to stand on,” he said. “She was so fatigued she just collapsed right in front of the outriders. Her injuries were severe and contaminated, and there was no chance to save her.” Big Brown became the seventh unbeaten horse to win the Kentucky Derby, he is the first Derby winner for his trainer Richard Dutrow Jnr and the third for Kent Desormeaux, following those aboard Real Quiet in 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
Big Brown finished the race without a speck of the Churchill Downs dirt on his chest or face having been kept in clean air by a suitably confident Kent Desormeaux. Richard Dutrow, whose career has been chequered to say the least, is now enjoying one of the greatest seasons of any trainer in the world. As well as Big Brown’s Kentucky Derby win, Dutrow won races on the Dubai World Cup program in March with Diamond Stripes and Benny the Bull. The second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes is run in two weeks.
Extract from Stallions Daily Bulletin