I am on the bus en route to New York right now, because I couldn't miss the possibility of watching Big Brown pull off one of the most difficult feats in sports at the Belmont Stakes tomorrow. All the signs point to big victory for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner -- he's by far the strongest horse in the field, he's won every race with ease, and his workouts this week have been impressive by all reports. Also, his chief competitor, Casino Drive, has a bruised hoof and may not be able to race.
But there's a reason why no horse has completed the sweep since 1978 (and why 19 horses have failed trying over the course of history). Anything can happen in racing, and there are plenty of wildcards to consider that could stymie the heavy 2-5 favorite.
--The horse is suffering from a slight crack in his hoof, which a hoof specialist and a team of veterinarians has said is okay, but it's hard to know for sure.
--He drew the first post position, which is the most difficult, and he runs the risk of getting boxed in against the rail.
--The heat will be in the 90s, and it's hard to say how that will affect Big Brown's stamina, which has been incredible so far, but hasn't been tested in a race this long. At a mile and a half, the Belmont is 1/4 mile longer than the Derby and 3/16 longer than Preakness.
--He'll be up against the Klein curse -- the last time I went to Belmont, heavy favorite to win the Triple Crown, Smarty Jones, ran out of gas during the last stretch of the race and lost by a head.
With that said, while there's never any such thing as a sure bet in the crazy world of horse racing, Big Brown is about as sure of a bet as is possible. I'll be cheering for him loudly.
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