Saturday, June 07, 2008


Lord, it is hot here this morning.

For the Belmont this afternoon, I think Big Brown will win.

But wagering these things isn’t just about picking winners- it is about making plays at the right price. And given Big Brown's likely twenty cents on the dollar return, much like the Kentucky Derby, I’m gonna pass on him.

With the scatch of Casino Drive- who I sorta liked and had been laying in weight for Big Brown- the rest of the cast is real second teir. None have a prayer of beating Big Brown if he fires.

But there are rumblings out of Belmont of doubt and uncertainity. Dick Jerardi sums it up:
I was almost certain that Big Brown would win the Derby and totally certain he would win the Preakness. I do not have either of those feelings about this race.

Of course, Big Brown is the likely winner. No horse wins all those races by such large margins without great talent. The colt should be an overwhelming favorite.

But there are issues, some more serious than others. Big Brown is the only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races. When you watch how easily the horse wins, you might make an assumption that it has been easy. But it is never that easy. Each race takes something out of a horse.

Big Brown appears to have lost a little bit of weight through the series. The colt veered out sharply to the right after the finish line of the Preakness, a bit like he did after his final workout 2 days before the Derby. He came back from the Preakness with some blood trickling from his rear ankles as they were scraped up during the race.

"This horse looks better now than he did going into the Derby," said Dutrow, who continues to insist the colt can't lose.

And, 2 weeks ago, that quarter crack was discovered in the left front hoof. Big Brown missed 3 days of training. The Rembrandt of hooves, Ian McKinlay, was brought in to oversee the repairs. It is delicate business. It might be fine by race time. It could also sting the horse during the race. It is not the kind of thing that can lead to more serious injury, but it could impact the horse's ability to run at his best.

Big Brown's final workout on Tuesday was not as impressive as his final work before the Derby.
I’m telling you, there is a lot of ink out there like that- particularly about that closing workout. Everyone said he looked disinterested and slow. Maybe Big Brown is really more like 50-50 to win than pennies on the dollar?

I don’t like anyone else in the field exactly- but they all figure to pay great if Big Brown gets beat. I have a nagging feeling he will- but not enough to take a big stand. So I’ll play $45 on the “field to win”- that is a $5 win ticket on each challenger individually- and take a stand against the coronation in New York.

We hit the Belmont last year for a small fortune here.

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