“I hope that Big Brown runs there,” said Dutrow of the mile and a quarter “Midsummer Derby,” which will be run for the 139th time on Saturday, August 23.
“In a perfect world I would want to see him win the Haskell (Monmouth Park, August 3), and win the Travers – in a perfect world,” said Dutrow Friday morning outside barn 10 at Aqueduct, where Big Brown is stabled. “Especially my world, it’s not perfect.”
“Our horse is bred for grass, and he’s shown he can run on the grass,” said Dutrow. “That’s supposed to translate good into Polytrack. So we will not duck that. If our horse is good, actually, we can’t wait for him to go out there and run him in that race.”
Dutrow reported that Big Brown has been “having fun” for the past couple of weeks and has been jogging daily under exercise rider Michelle Nevin.
“I think I’m going to start galloping him tomorrow,” said Dutrow. “I think we’re going to put the shoes back on Monday. We’ll gallop him for few days until Monday and maybe Tuesday start breezing him, I’m not sure.
“But he’s ready. He’s put his belly back on, he’s as happy as he could be. Now I can train him the way we want to. Now he got his little break, jogging every day, so, he’s ready to roll.”
Dutrow said he was still operating under the assumption that something was wrong with Big Brown because of the way he ran in the Belmont.
“When you pull a horse up in a race, something is supposed to be wrong with the horse. So I’m still looking for that,” he said. “Once we gallop him, I’ll be feeling very good if Michelle tells me he’s great. Once we breeze him I’ll be feeling very good if she says he’s the same horse, he’s great. He still has these tests to pass.”
”I didn’t feel it was necessary for me to jump right in to find out if he’s OK. I was figuring to give him some time off and that’s what we did. And everything is right on schedule with the horse.”
Dutrow said he still has not been able to figure out what exactly went wrong in the Belmont.
“I think the first half mile of the race, the trip that he got, was just one of the worst trips you would ever want to see in a horse,” he said. “After that, I don’t understand the rest of the race.”
Dutrow said he had looked at photos showing a loose rear shoe but did not think it was a major factor in Big Brown’s performance.
“For it to be an issue, the jock would have felt it, and I didn’t see it. The jock didn’t feel it, and I would have seen it,” he said. “I know other people believe that’s what happened, and man, I hope they’re right. I hope that’s all it was, a little spread shoe behind. But I still have my eyes and ears wide open and I’m still watching the horse. And I don’t see anything with the horse, other than everything is beautiful.”