Showing posts with label Big Brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Brown. Show all posts

June 25, 2008

Big Brown Trainer Dutrow Turns Over New Leaf, Finds More Drugs

I am starting to think the thoroughbred racing industry is breathing one big retrospective sigh of relief that Big Brown failed to capture the Triple Crown this spring. Rick Dutrow has now been hit with a 15-day suspension in Kentucky for providing one of his horses, Salute the Count (not a euphemism for masturbation, unfortunately), with a dose of Clenbuterol too close to race day. The horse raced in the Aegon Turf Sprint on May 2 at Churchill Downs (the day before the Derby) and tested positive for twice the allowable level.

blahbbblblahahlahlahblahblah This is not a mug shot.

Clenbuterol is closely related to Albuterol, a standard and legal drug given to horses as a bronchodilator, to increase lung capacity and function. Clenbuterol, unlike Albuterol, has steroid properties as well. It is permitted, but a dose may not be administered within a certain window before the horse races.

Dutrow, of course, is claiming distraction.

Allegations of cheating have followed Dutrow more than any other "elite" horseman. The ESPN article linked above lists numerous supported allegations of cheating, all involving horse drugging. It would be easy to believe that he failed to closely monitor his horse-drugging regiment with Big Brown running the next day, but not given Dutrow's history.

His personal history is checkered as well, with this article from the New York Daily News revealing his sordid drug and gambling past. While he seems to have beaten his addictions, one wonders what tricks he learned during his more desperate gambling runs.

June 10, 2008

Big Brown Trainer Dutrow Shows True Colors, Blames Jockey

Rick Dutrow, Jr., the trainer of Triple Crown contender Big Brown, knows just where to place the blame for Big Brown's failure to win the Belmont - Jockey Kent Desormeaux.

I was willing to give Dutrow a little benefit of the doubt. Sure, he had been in trouble for doping horses. He associated with people caught up in penny stock schemes. He ran his mouth like T.O. high on Michael Irvin's coke. He disparaged other horses. Now, let me be the 10 millionth to say it: Rick Dutrow, Jr., is a total asshole.

blahblahblah Asshole Rankings: Rick Dutrow > Dick Cheney > Kobe Bryant

What about the Goddamned horse, Rick? Desormeaux got perfect trips in the 20-freaking-horse Derby and the Preakness. He had Big Brown in excellent position in the Belmont, just off a meandering pace. Sure, he was a little more outside than was optimal, but against this competition that shouldn't have mattered. He did everything right, up to and including the moment he pulled Big Brown up when it was obvious he could not win, preserving him to spawn his expensive progeny.

Big Brown did not want to run Saturday. From the start he was jerking his head to the outside on every stride. We need to remember that this was the horse's 6th race. We don't know if he: a) sucks in the heat, b) gets disinterested off a slow pace, c) chooses not to run every 6th race or so, d) doesn't like starting on the rail, e) can't re-fire after he gets slowed down to preserve him for a 1.5 mile race, f) is injured or ill in a way that doesn't show up clinically, but also doesn't make him want to run, or g) any other reason under the Sun.

We do know Kent Desormeaux is a good jockey who routinely obtains results. We do know Rick Dutrow, Jr., is a weaselly asshole who is nearly universally disliked by the other trainers and nearly everyone else in the industry. If I were Michael Iavarone of Big Brown's ownership firm, IEAH, I think I'm dumping Dutrow and sticking with Desormeaux.
Let's compare and contrast mistakes made by Desormeaux and Dutrow:


--Ran a little further off the rail than optimal


--Incentivized spoiling Big Brown's run with his mouth
--Changed Big Brown's training regiment between the Preakness and Belmont
--Skipped Big Brown's injection of Winstrol
--Caught cheating
--Associated with known criminals

Yeah, Rick, I'd be deflecting too. Asshole. Maybe you can drop about 175 pounds and ride him yourself next time.

June 7, 2008

30 Years and Counting - Big Brown Fails

I guess this wasn't the year. Not only did Big Brown fail in his bid to become the first Triple Crown in three decades, he finished dead last. Trainer Rick Dutrow said that Big Brown hadn't suffered any injuries, but he definitely didn't look good through the last third of the race.

At the beginning of the race, Big Brown looked to be in perfect position to make a run down the stretch the same way he did in the Preakness. Rounding the final turn, though, Da'Tara started to pull away and Big Brown fell back to the second pack. He didn't respond to jockey Kent Desormeaux when he asked for a final kick, so Desormeaux pulled Big Brown up and they cruised to a last place finish.
Unlike many horse racing fans, I think it's great that it's been 30 years since we've had a Triple Crown winner. Every year that goes by without a Triple Crown just adds to the mystique surrounding the races. It wouldn't be such an amazing accomplishment to win the Triple Crown if it happened every year.

On a side note, thanks ABC for refusing to show more than five seconds of Da'Tara, Alan Garcia, or Nick Zito after the race. You were essentially saying that the only story here was Big Brown losing, and that Da'Tara winning was a non-event. Great journalism there.

Casino Drive Scratched!!

Casino Drive is a SCRATCH for today's Belmont, as a result of the injury initially reported yesterday. Stone bruise or not, Casino Drive is out!

So what does this do to the betting? Big Brown will be even more of a favorite, and Denis of Cork will probably come down to 15-1 or 12-1 as the new second favorite. However, none of the other horses deserves much consideration. If Big Brown loses today, it won't be because his competition was incredible. None of the three best horses that didn't run the Preakness or Derby are in the field (Behindatthebar, War Pass, Casino Drive). Even so, this is not a lock. Enormous pressure, and a distance this horse has never seen. Enjoy the race!

June 6, 2008

Belmont Stakes Entry Casino Drive Hurt, May Be Scratched

This morning the handlers of Casino Drive noted that he was not walking properly. Rather than gallop him this morning, they have decided to give him the day off.

The horse, Big Brown's main threat, is thought to have a "stone bruise" on his left-hind leg, which can be caused by walking on hard, rocky surfaces, like the paths at Belmont.

According to PetPlace, a stone bruise appears as a purple or dark grey spot on the hoof though they often are not visible until the injury is a bit old. Most intriguingly, for those who might bet the race, "if a stone bruise occurs right before an important competition, it can be a crisis."

The point is that Casino Drive's handlers are only speculating that he has a stone bruise. All they know for sure is he is not walking normally. Now that we are nearly a day away from the race, I would want to see major improvement before laying money on the horse. There's a decent chance he also could be scratched prior to the 6:25 p.m. post tomorrow.

2008 Belmont Picks

These are your free picks in betting the 2008 Belmont Stakes, featuring Big Brown's attempt to win the Triple Crown. Obviously, this guide is not about telling you who will almost certainly win the race. That's Big Brown. It's about helping you find some money in a race where the top two horses seem to be far and away better than the rest of the field.

On to your 2008 Belmont Handicapping Guide...

UPDATE (Friday, 2:25 p.m.) - Casino Drive is injured, and might not run tomorrow. He is not walking properly due to what is thought to be a "stone bruise" on his left-hind hoof. Keep a close eye on this. The worst case scenario is that he would not be scratched, but not be 100% either. Let me bruise your heel with a blunt object today, and we'll see how well you run a couple miles tomorrow. Yeah.


I think this is the year.
East Coast Bias
I've seen a lot of good horses win the Derby and the Preakness only to tire in the last 2 furlongs of the Belmont, but I think Big Brown is different. Tomorrow we may see the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years. Moments like that are part of the reason I'm a sports fan in the first place.

So the question is, how do you make money on this race? We'll start by looking at the entire field:
East Coast Bias
Big Brown - Clearly the class of the field, he's looking unbeatable at this point. Don't be fooled by the low speed figure in the Preakness, we all saw that he had a whole lot left in the tank after that race.

Guadalcanal - A maiden? In the Belmont? Really? On the plus side, he's the only horse to have raced 1.5 miles previously. Too bad it was on turf.

Macho Again - Good closing speed (on everyone but Big Brown) in the Preakness bodes well for the long Belmont.

Denis of Cork - I'm not biting on the surprise third in the Derby

Casino Drive - I guess this is supposed to be the horse to beat Big Brown? I don't think so. He's only run one race in the US. He's only run two races overall. He's switching jockeys. He'sstepping up three furlongs. He's never run in a race nearly this big.

Da' Tara - In his last graded stakes race, he finished 23 lengths behind Big Brown.

Tale of Ekati - Nothing there to make me think he can compete with Big Brown.

Anak Nakal - I didn't even remember that this horse had run in the Derby.

Ready's Echo - This horse is in the race based on a 6 length loss to Casino Drive in a G2 race?

Icabad Crane - I'm still not sure how this horse managed to make it into the money at Pimlico.
Looking at the odds, obviously Big Brown is the favorite at 2-5, and Casino Drive is the second favorite at 7-2. I'm really surprised that Big Brown's odds are that good, and that Casino Drive's odds are that bad. At 20-1, I really like Macho Again. I'm just going to go with $5 on Macho Again across the board. An exacta including Big Brown or Casino Drive isn't going to pay well enough to be worth it.


Well, I cashed $650 in tickets on the Preakness itself in Baltimore three weeks ago. Obviously, I'm going to stick to that strategy, betting a few big exactas with Big Brown in top.

Except I'm not.

The problem with this race is that Big Brown, again, should win relatively easily. His only real trouble could come in the first furlong if Guadalcanal bears in on him at the start, but Guadalcanal (a freaking maiden) has been towards the back at the first call in all five of his starts. There's a risk he could get loose on the lead immediately off the rail pace, and that Desormeaux won't be able to rein him in, or possibly worse will have to be pulling back on him the whole way down the backstretch.

I do have concerns with Big Brown. For one, the only glimmer of early speed in this race is Da' Tara, and we're talking about a 47 and 4 half mile, not something in the 45s. It's Big Brown's pace if he wants it, and I think the field, with the exception of Da' Tara with a little press, will let him have it.

Now Desormeaux has done a great job in the Derby and Preakness keeping Big Brown almost exactly two lengths off the lead coming up to the finish. What if there is no horse in front of Big Brown the whole way around for a mile and a half? We don't know. We're talking about not knowing something on a 2-5 horse that will likely return $5 on a $2 matter who is second.

I'm going to look my gift horse in the mouth, and I'm taking Big Brown off the top of my tickets. The next two best horses, Casino Drive and Denis of Cork, are 7-2 and 12-1 respectively. Denis of Cork was not visually exciting in the Derby, but he ran a 97 despite starting dead last and having to pick through the field. The jockey change doesn't bother me, as Albarado has ridden Denis of Cork before to a graded win.

Plus, I like one of these two headlines on Sunday: Denis the Menace and Never Bet on Brown.

I think I'm going to have to accept that I'm willing to lose money to be wrong but have a Triple Crown Winner. I'm not willing to lose money, be wrong, and not have a Triple Crown winner.

My plays:

OPTION 1 (Casino Drive is 100%)

$25 exacta - Denis of Cork, Casino Drive/Denis of Cork, Casino Drive, Big Brown ($100)

$10 trifecta - Denis of Cork, Casino Drive/Big Brown/Denis of Cork, Casino Drive, Ready's Echo ($40)

$10 win - Denis of Cork ($10)

Total bet: $150

OPTION 2 (Casino Drive can't go, or I embrace the inevitable)

$25 exacta - Big Brown over Macho Again, Denis of Cork, Ready's Echo and Icabad Crane

$25 place - Macho Again, Denis of Cork, Ready's Echo, Icabad Crane


I'm not going to pretend that any of the other 9 horses in the field can be picked to beat Big Brown. So the question becomes how to bet a race with a likely 1-5 favorite and no clear 2nd-best horse.

Option 1: Take Big Brown with the field for a $2 Exacta bet. Only costs $18 and you have a chance to make some money without putting your life savings down. Unfortunately, everyone else will be doing this too. If you bet on Big Brown to win, you might as well keep the ticket as a collector's item, it'll be worth more that way.

Option 2: In spite of the odds, Big Brown's chances to win aren't really 1-5. The cracked front hoof, the #1 slot where he can get boxed, Kent Desormeaux, steroids... any or a combination of all of those could create disaster. So pick the 3 best other horses and bet them to win. Or if you have the cash, take the field with the field $1 Exacta. If Big Brown wins, you're down $70 or more of the $90 you bet. However, if Big Brown doesn't win, you make a good chunk. If he doesn't place, this will be the Belmont you remember for years. The odds of horse racing say that he will lose sometime; two underdogs in the top two slots could pay in the thousands.

If you are looking at other horses, I like Denis of Cork and Casino Drive, as does every other bettor.


Normally we would link to our friends over at Gowanus Rotisserie Baseball Gazette for their always excellent Triple Crown previews. However, we aren't the only ones to notice them, and Deadspin has asked them to do a special preview. Here is that guide.


May 20, 2008

Things I Saw at Preakness

J-Red has covered most of the ECB Preakness field trip in his photo post, but I thought I'd add the things he missed. Here are the things I saw at Preakness:

  • Guys shaking up unopened beer cans, then smashing the cans against their heads to open them, and then chugging the beer, all while a crowd of people chanted "Rumpelstiltskin." That was a new one for me.
  • Port-A-Pot races. You really have to see one of these in person to appreciate the lunacy.
  • A girl pissing on a chain link fence. Standing behind the fence were three police officers who didn't seem to think it was strange.
  • More airborne beer cans than I thought possible. When people ran on top of the Port-A-Pots, they got pelted with beer cans. When there was a crowd of people, they got pelted with beer cans. When there was a big open area, people threw beer cans at each other across it. I hope the flying beer cans don't lead to the end of a BYOB infield.
  • Lots and lots of mud.
  • A whole lot of fights, exactly zero of which were started for a good reason.
  • Many people carried out on ambulances due to their own stupidity.
  • An unbelievable number of losing tickets in my pocket. I bet on all 13 races and didn't cash a single ticket. Ouch.
  • Nine boobs. Refer back to J-Red's post to see why it was an odd number.
  • A girl get booed for incorrectly flashing the crowd (see above)
  • The first Triple Crown winner in 30 years.
Photo credit Matt Rourke - AP, found on the DC Sports Bog

May 17, 2008

Preakness Recap

I'm home, I'm exhausted, and I'm glad I didn't drink at all today. This sunburn is going to be a bitch tomorrow.

The author, J-Red, had a very good day. So good in fact he was able to bet $200 on the Preakness itself.

These were his bets:

$25 exacta Big Brown/Macho Again, Racecar Rhapsody, Kentucky Bear, Giant Moon and Gayego.

$25 win Kentucky Bear
$25 place Macho Again
$25 show Racecar Rhapsody

The result was Big Brown by a shit-ton, followed by Macho Again and Racecar Rhapsody. At $36 per $2 wagered for the exacta and $17.10 per $2 wagered on Macho Again to place, J-Red ended the day with a nice $650 cash in, or a profit of $450 on the race.

Sorry it isn't what I posted I'd bet, but I had done so well thanks to a couple earlier races that I had the funds to change up.

Brien and Russell are still solvent. Jeremy is still a wuss.

May 16, 2008

Eight Reasons Big Brown Won't Win


So you want to bet against prohibitive favorite Big Brown tomorrow in the Preakness Stakes? You'll have to convince yourself that he might not win, which is a challenge. Here are some things that might actually point to Big Brown not getting the 2839 length victory we've been told is inevitable.

1) Big Brown has never run on a muddy track - It rained all day today, and we got three-plus inches of rain earlier this week. Plus, there will be 11 races run before Big Brown gets into the gate. How will he like getting mud thrown in his face? His blood rating is good for mud (388), but mine was good for me to be short, and I'm 6-3.
2) Big Brown is prone to quarter cracks - Quarter cracks are vertical cracks in the hoof that cause the horse pain, can bleed, and can actually cause a horse to refuse to walk. Big Brown is prone to these. Because of this, he can't have nail-in horseshoes, but rather must have glue-on shoes. Muddy tracks have been known to literally suck glued on shoes right off a horse's foot. Not only would this slow him down quite a bit, but one leg would get different traction than the other three.

3) Big Brown has never started between horses in a full field - This is actually true. Big Brown has had four career starts. In three of them he has only had one neighbor, running from the rail (against 9 others) and from the outside (20th of 20 and 12th of 12). In the fourth he had the 4th position against only five other horses. In this race, he'll be in the 6th slot (but still betting #7 due to Behindthebar's departure), with five horses to his left and six horses to his right. Will this be to his liking? We have no way of knowing. He's a horse.

4) The dreaded bounce - The bounce is mythical among horseplayers. It is responsible for so many talking themselves out of just avoiding a race when one horse looks like a sure thing. The idea, which has some validity, is that a horse who has run some incredible races will have a "bounce" race, where he just doesn't have it. Unfortunately, it's also akin to deciding that the roulette wheel has to come up black this time because it's been red so many times....only the horse actually IS GOOD, where as red just occupies 18 of the 42 possible spaces. Trying to predict the bounce is nearly impossible, but it COULD happen. Of course, it could happen and he could still win in this field.

5) Big Brown is turning around fast - Well, yeah, of course he is. The Derby is always two weeks before the Preakness. Unfortunately, this year none of the other horses ran two weeks ago. Yeah, I know Gayego was in the Derby, but he definitely didn't RUN in the Derby. He was further from seeing Big Brown's finish than 25,000 fans in the stands. Many people are pointing to the 2000 Preakness, where Fusaichi Pegasus was viewed as unbeatable (he went off at 1-5). Well, he wasn't beaten by Red Bullet, who sat out the Derby. There are some clear differences. First, Jerry Bailey rode Red Bullet and he went off at 6-1. None of the horses tomorrow will go off at 6-1. There are some major similarities though, including that Kent Desormeaux rode Fusaichi and that the track was damp that day.

6) Karma hates Richard Dutrow - Trainer Richard Dutrow's list of violations is a mile long. He's been caught drugging horses. He was once charged with check fraud early in his career. He's not thought to be a good guy, and he's quite full of himself. Of course, karma would most like to crush his dreams in the Belmont, but then again it might not want to toss him an extra $1M to build up the drama. There's also a real possibility Big Brown could test positive for drugs, though testing wouldn't affect the betting outcome.

7) Everyone has gone crazy - This is actually one of the most intriguing angles to me. Based on early betting, Big Brown is 1-9 on the tote board. That means a $90 bet would earn you $10, plus your bet back. If my math is right, that means handicappers believe that Big Brown would win this race nine times in ten runnings against these eleven opponents. I mean, his resume is very impressive, but is it Citation/Secretariat impressive?

8) Barbaro - It's extremely unlikely, but Big Brown could pull up. He might not suffer a horrible injury like Eight Belles and Barbaro, but he might suffer SOME injury.

So there you have it. If you needed a reason to bet ABBB (Anyone But Big Brown), hopefully you found something on this list to convince you.


Happy Black-Eyed Susan Day to all.

Behindthebar won't make the Preakness start tomorrow evening. He's out with a bruised left foot, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Behindthebar was made the second favorite by Pimlico track handicapper Frank Carrulli at 8-1. Now Gayego occupies that spot. Of course, taking out the bettors likely second choice depresses the odds across the board, but for Gayego more than anyone as the new "anyone but Big Brown" choice. As one can read below, I'm about to perforate this ulcer now, as Gayego is the biggest wild card in the race.

An interesting betting race just got more interesting.
***IMPORTANT*** - All horses outside Behindthebar at post position 5 move in one spot, including Big Brown. THIS DOES NOT CHANGE THE BETTING NUMBER. Tracks have been taking bets on the Preakness since Thursday. Big Brown will still be wearing the orange 7 indicator on Saturday.