By now most Infield readers know that Big Brown won on Saturday, holding off Proudinsky in a thriller stretch drive (I think that must be my favorite phrase, seriously). The Derby Winner has passed the “beat older” test with winning colors…now on to synthetic and CURLIN!
There is no way now for Curlin to repeat as HOTY without running in the Classic. Brown has done everything except win the Belmont (and how many others have that blemish on their resume). Brown draws record crowds to see him run in non-graded stakes. Brown has a major corporate sponsor (almost like NASCAR). Curlin has the hardware (’07 HOTY), the earnings (over $9mil) and the key to Saratoga. But unless his owner (who has been a tremendous sportsman so far just by running the Golden Warrior at 4) gives in and enters the defending BCC winner on SA’s poly, his chances for a repeat HOTY are slim and none. If he enters and Brown beats him, he’s out, but the questions will be answered. If he runs and wins, he’ll go down as one of our greatest champions. There have only been a handful of 2-time HOTY champs in history, an enormous achievement. The last back-to-back HOTY was Cigar in ’95/’96. Even he couldn’t capture 2 Classics.
If neither Brown or Curlin win the Classic, then things get more tricky. It’s safe to say Go Between, love him as I do, will not be HOTY if he springs the big-ass upset. I say Curlin would still be HOTY if both colts run up the track. Curlin deserves the honor, after racing around the world in Dubai, and in all Gr1 events here in the states. He has beaten a host of Gr1 winners and millionaires. He’s also run faster than Brown (112 BSF in the Woodward). It could also be a wake-up call to owners who retire their 3yos. Curlin has run an (sort-of) old-fashioned campaign this year, hitting all the top Gr1s and taking on all comers. I like Curlin better than Brown because of this-he is the last big name from the legendary 2007 Triple Crown Class. All of those colts (and filly) were amazing athletes, game, fast and turned up every time. To get to see even one of them for another year is a privlege that we won’t have next year. Big Brown will be at Three Chimneys swapping TC war stories with Point Given (though PG will always win with his *I* won the Belmont by 11…).
OTHER Stuff: MUSIC NOTE waltzed away with the Gazelle after Country Star flipped in the gate and had to scratch. The daughter of AP Indy is a tremendous runner in a year of Top Class Fillies. Aside from Brown, 2008 has been the YEAR OF THE FILLY — The Distaff is the headliner race for the BC this year with Zenyatta, Ginger Punch, Hystericaladay, Music Note, Tough Tiz’s Sis, and now Proud SPell is back on the BC list. Then Indian Blessing, Intangaroo, and Dearest Trickski have the F/M Sprint locked down. Too bad Rags got hurt.
Thursday I leave for an InfieldTrip to the heart of horse country. Complete blogging and photos and such will be forthcoming…