Big Brown Gets Inside Track
Thursday, May 15, 2008
BALTIMORE, May 14 -- Big Brown effortlessly won the Kentucky Derby from the outside No. 20 post position, but part-owner Michael Iavarone wasn't exactly looking forward to his colt having to duplicate the feat Saturday in the Preakness Stakes.
Pimlico Race Course, widely known for its tight turns, can be tough on a horse starting on the outside in two-turn races and, as track linemaker Frank Carulli pointed out, the horse breaking from the outside post position never has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in the same year.
So when Big Brown drew the No. 7 post for the 1 3/16 -mile second leg of the Triple Crown, Iavarone was relieved -- and then engulfed by cameras, microphones and reporters at the draw Wednesday afternoon at a downtown restaurant.
"We don't want to be on the outside," Iavarone said. "We want to be outside the speed. In this race, we don't see much of that. The only horse that has speed drawn outside of us is Gayego, and I don't see a problem with that."
In so many words, Iavarone was announcing that he believed Big Brown would continue to show his superiority in the Preakness, and Carulli had no argument, bestowing commanding morning-line odds of 1-2 on the horse in the field of 13.
With a victory Saturday, Big Brown would join Majestic Prince, Seattle Slew and Smarty Jones as the only undefeated Kentucky Derby winners to also win the Preakness.
"He simply towers over the field," Carulli said. "There's just no other serious contenders on paper."
Asked about the proposition of betting a race with a 1-2 morning-line favorite, Carulli said: "It's like going to Vegas and betting against Tiger Woods. You can bet on Tiger at 2-5, or get Phil Mickelson or Vijay Singh at 8-1 and the rest at 30-1."
Gayego, a late addition to the race, drew post No. 12 and was assigned odds of 8-1, making him the only other horse better than 10-1. The colt, trained by Paulo Lobo in California, had a miserable start in the Derby and finished 17th, but the past three Arkansas Derby winners to run in the Preakness have won.
Gayego was stuck outside in the No. 19 post position in the Derby, and Lobo had hoped to get a slot closer inside to make it easier for him to set up in his favored stalking position.
"It's a little outside, but what can you do?" Lobo said after the draw. "It's better than 19. Everyone's going to want a good position in the first turn, so it's going to depend on how they break."
Jockey Jeremy Rose, who attended the draw, was thrilled to see his mount, Icabad Crane, draw the No. 3 post position. The colt won the Federico Tesio Stakes, Pimlico's Preakness prep race, from the same spot, and Rose knows the track, having ridden there for years.
"I get the rail trip," Rose said. "On the Pimlico track, I always like the inside."
The horse Icabad Crane ran down to win the Tesio, Mint Lane, returned to the races last week and ran second in the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. Rose believed that race confirmed the talent of his horse, who is trained by Graham Motion at the Fair Hill Training Center.
Mario Pino "was on that horse in the Tesio, and he said turning for home, he didn't think anyone would catch him, and along came Icabad Crane. I think he's going to run his race Saturday."
Most of the representatives of horses in the Preakness had little to do after the draw, as all the action took place around Iavarone, who heads the IEAH Stable.
The most pressing concern for the owner is the mere two weeks' rest between the Derby and Preakness. Trainer Richard Dutrow has taken it easy on Big Brown since the Derby, mostly jogging him at Churchill Downs in the mornings.
"As an owner, anything that's difficult on a horse I'm not a fan of," Iavarone said. "But I understand tradition. It would be better if it was four weeks' apart, but this is what separates the good horses from the superhorses."