A few theories espoused.
First off, forget the quarter crack...not a factor.
The steroid -- Winstrol -- that the trainer had used in April and May leading up to the race really is not a big deal either. The media would have you believe that if you took Winstrol, you'd turn into Brian Urlacher and then when you stopped you would suddenly be Alfred E. Newman. That's not exactly how it works, but, hey, why let the facts bugger up a good story?
Granted his break from the gate and the run to the first turn was a little rough, but that should not have stopped a horse with as much talent as Big Brown.
We attributed his poor race to five factors in no particular order of importance:
1) HEAT - Did you go outside Saturday? Did it feel good? Did you feel like running farther and faster than you have ever run...? Didn't think so.
2) STRESS - Racehorses aren't particularly smart, but they are sensitive. They are also creatures of habit. When the folks around horses are stressed, the horses stress. Stress leads to fatigue. Horses like Big Brown are typically best with a routine. There is nothing routine about the circus leading up to the Belmont when there is a Triple Crown on the line. We assure you the $10,000 claimers running this afternoon at Colonial Downs aren't posing with the Hooters Girls pre-race.
Too much going on, too much stress, too many interruptions to the routine and pretty soon there isn't enough $4 gas in the tank...
3) TRAINING - Big Brown missed a few days of training prior to the Belmont and since he was on a very light regimen to start with, this may have cost him some critical core conditioning. This is a bit of a reach, but...
4) THE RACETRACK - We surmise the boys at Belmont were damned worried about another 8-Belles debacle. Our guess is they did everything they could to make the track safe, but it doing so they created a very "deep" track that Big Brown didn't like. The weather and some water issues could have confused an already tricky process, and a close viewing of the race will show you the horses going into the track up over their ankles.
Big horses like Big Brown often have trouble with deep tracks "breaking away" under their feet. Imagine running across the ice rink in your dress shoes. It doesn't inspire confidence...
5) KARMA - His owner lied on his resume and his trainer just couldn't shut up. See #2 above.
(Photos by Anne M. Eberhardt, Al Bello/Getty Images and Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)