Rich & Compelling

Borrowed from Anchorman’sRon Burgundy, rich & compelling aptly describes the impending battle at the Belmont Stakes June 7th.  Big Brown and his cracked hoof get all the headlines as the undefeated bay colt goes for the first triple crown since 1978, but the growing jockey rivalry between Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado makes for a spectacular under card.

Prado was the first jockey to ride Big Brown.  The Hall of Fame rider loved Big Brown in workouts (who wouldn’t) and was the favorite jockey of Big Brown’s trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. 

Exactly why Prado ended up saddling also rans so far in this three year old season as opposed to maybe one of the greatest horses of a generation is open for debate. 

An injury to Prado opened the door for Big Brown’s co-owner Michael Iavarone to make a change at jockey, even though Prado’s injury required little in the way of rehab and even though Dutrow openly admits Prado is his favorite jockey. 

Why the change?

Enter Kent Desormeaux.  Looking for a return to the stardom he so enjoyed during the 90’s, according to an industry insider, Desormeaux called up Iavarone, asking to meet for dinner and to discuss Big Brown’s future.  The source told me Desormeaux schmoozed and lobbied his way onto the mount.  Prado was then dismissed.

The storyline turned soap opera-ish after the Preakness when Big Brown’s camp claimed Prado rode long shot Riley Tucker in the Preakness not so much to win, rather to keep Big Brown from winning.  Insinuations and minor insults were tossed then around from all the players.  The tenor of the quest for a triple crown now starting to feel like the buildup to a heavy weight title fight.   

It gets better.  The layering of this story weaving much deeper.

Experts agree there is just one horse capable of challenging Big Brown at the Belmont.  A Japanese import named Casino Drive.  Who rode Casino Drive at the Peter Pan Stakes, the victory that showed how good this horse can be?  Kent Desormeaux.  Who will ride him at the Belmont?  Edgar Prado.

Prior to the Preakness Desormeaux talked about Casino Drive with a glow in his eyes.  Even before winning at Pimlico, he called the Belmont a “cold exacta”, but wouldn’t commit to who went first and who second. 

Since the Preakness win, Desormeaux has changed his tune a little, calling Big Brown the fastest horse he’s ever been on and when asked how Casino Drive matches up, he said, he doesn’t.  Rick Dutrow has done everything but guarantee a victory on June 7th.

Four years ago, Smarty Jones went to the Belmont also as a prohibitive favorite to win the Triple Crown.  Several horses though were ridden in that race not to win, but to make sure Smarty Jones didn’t either.  They tired him out early and he was caught down the stretch by Birdstone. 

We can expect more of the same as other entries will try everything to keep Big Brown from celebrating a historic win.  And can you imagine anyone more motivated to steal that spotlight than Edgar Prado?  Rich & Compelling.


One Response

  1. This entry should be a part of many leather-bound books.

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