If he's not careful, Jess Jackson is going to make the Big Brown guys look like the good guys.

That's pretty hard to do. As the big colt got deeper and deeper into the Triple Crown series, his handlers seemed to alienate the public, fellow horsemen and the media on a daily basis. Michael Iavarone, co-president of the combine that races Big Brown, had a resume with several holes in it; Rick Dutrow, the horse's oft-disciplined trainer, had an incurable case of logorrhea.

". . . I do not like the package that Big Brown comes in," said Dogwood Stable's Cot Campbell, as close as anyone in racing to being the rebirth of Will Rogers.

When Iavarone announced, after Big Brown blew the Belmont, that all of the stable's horses would run drug-free but for Lasix, Team Valor International's Barry Irwin said: "If (Iavarone) really wants to make a statement, he should consider moving his horses (away from Dutrow). Then he may get somebody's attention. Until then, the (drug-free) proposal looks like an attempt at damage control or a PR stunt."

Dutrow's inane comments after Big Brown's recovery in the Haskell ("I don't know why people think Curlin is a good horse") got Jackson's attention. "I think it's bad for racing to have trash talk," Curlin's owner said. ". . . To run down another guy's horse. . . isn't the right thing to do."

That was a perfect rejoinder to Dutrow's diatribes. But then this week Jackson, anxious to move the Curlin-Big Brown rivalry in the direction of the track, took the illogical next step: He waved an offer of $50,000 for a backstretch cause at Belmont Park if Big Brown would show up in the Woodward at Saratoga. That's been penciled in as Curlin's next race.

There are better ways to wax philanthropic. Iavarone, saying thanks but no thanks, waved back with the good works his partners have done. It was my charity against your charity, at 10 paces. Among the things racing doesn't need is duelling charities. It's not cheap but it's tacky.

Jackson, one of the few white knights racing has these days, was ill-advised to infuse altruism into the fray. He has his agenda, Big Brown's handlers have theirs, and the twain. . . well, we all know what happens to the twain. The only way we can change what happens to the twain is for one side to blink, and these guys don't have a blink in their body. Jackson's second challenge, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, looks like a proposition for deaf ears as well.

Iavarone is right when he says the Horse of the Year title ought to be settled in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Otherwise, the Breeders' Cup has been wasting its time. But life isn't fair, and recruiters for Mensa International haven't been following Breeders' Cup officials around. The awarding of the next two Breeders' Cups to Santa Anita, with its iffy synthetic surface, has come home to roost. My advice to Jess Jackson, at the usual rates, is to quit the carrot-dangling and just show up with Curlin at Santa Anita. He's a classy enough guy that he won't complain about Pro-Ride if his horse gets beat. I can't say that about Rick Dutrow. In fact, I might make the biggest bet of my life against it.