Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Way back in 1981 when Virginia-bred Pleasant Colony (born at Buckland Farm, Gainesville, VA) made his bid for the Triple Crown, his trainer Johnny P. Campo was considered quite confident, if not downright brash. Mr. Campo wait at the bar...

According to ESPN/AP, Big Brown's trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. held nothing back recently, saying it's a "foregone conclusion" his horse will win the Triple Crown.

What's more, he insists that Smarty Jones, the last horse to try for racing's biggest prize, lost the Belmont Stakes because his connections "were not smart."

Asked if he was getting nervous in the days before Big Brown's attempt to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978, Dutrow seemed even more emboldened.

"I feel that he will do it," he said Thursday during the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's pre-Belmont conference call. "I feel like it's actually a foregone conclusion. To me, I just see the horses he's in with and I see our horse so I expect him to win this race.

"I know that when that day actually does come, and if our horse is in good shape, it will be the most exciting, thrilling moment of my life. So I just ... I know that that's coming, but right now I'm just staying involved with our horse and what we think is best to get him there the right way and it keeps us plenty busy.

Big Brown missed three days of training this week with a slight crack on the inside of his left front hoof, but Dutrow says it won't affect the unbeaten colt in the 1½-mile Belmont on June 7.

"I can't imagine what I'm going to feel like when they turn for home," he said. "I just can't imagine. I know that it's going to be a beautiful picture for us. I know our horse is just ... he's just in a zone and I see his competition, that turning for home something is going to come over the crowd. So, I can't wait."

He discounted the chances of unbeaten Casino Drive (pictured right), who won the Peter Pan Stakes by 5¾ lengths and is considered Big Brown's top challenger despite just two career starts. Japanese owned Casino Drive has a brother and a sister who have both won the Belmont...

"The Japanese horse has so much to prove," he said. "I don't know if he's on the top of his game training [at Belmont]. I would not depend on this horse for second [place]."

When asked if he thought any of Big Brown's rivals might be out to hinder his colt's attempt rather than trying to win, he said: "I just can't imagine that anybody would go do something stupid just to keep us from winning the race."

(Dutrow photo by AP Photo/Mary Altaffer , Casino Drive photo by AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Big Brown photo by AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky)

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