ONE-TO-FOUR?  Bplfffft!

Clowns bet down Big Brown in Triple Crown, but drown with frowns when Da’ Tara goes to town

A horse walks into a Bar, and the Bartender says, “Why the long face?”

Usually, that would be the whole joke, but today, there’s more — The long-faced horse is named Big Brown, and anyone else in the bar who just threw their money away on him is long-faced right now too.

Big Brown easily won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and was the 1-4 favorite to win the Belmont on Saturday.  A victory, which was GUARANTEED by Big Brown’s apparently trojan-like Trainer, would have made Big Brown the first Triple Crown winner in THIRTY YEARS.  But the difficulty of sweeping the elusive equine trilogy didn’t scare bettors from wagering millions and millions of dollars on History being made.

These horseplayers thought that Big Brown could reverse the three-decade-long trend, and that it was such a sure thing, that they would wager $4 to make back $1… or $4 Million to make $1 Million.  Sadly for them, they forgot the FIRST RULE of Horseracing, and Life:  There is no such thing as a sure thing. 

Even when the only viable (on paper) challenger was scratched (removed) from the race, it was hardly a sure thing.  First of all, the Belmont is a lot longer than the other races, and secondly, horses are not machines — You never know how an animal will respond after an “injury” like the hoof problem sustained by Big Brown last week, even if it is considered “totally minor” and “not even painful.” 

Lowly-regarded Da’ Tara went right to the front, and never looked back.  In Horse Racing, when there is only one horse in a Race who is a “Speed Horse” or “frontrunner,” he can set his own pace, and has an excellent chance of beating a field of horses in his class.  Based on that fact alone, Da’ Tara should not have been 38-to-1, except that Da’ Tara was not supposed to be in Big Brown’s class.  Also, the “one speed horse” rule is less reliable if a horse “can’t go the distance.”

But Da’Tara COULD go the distance.  It was Big Brown who couldn’t.  As the horses started to come down the home stretch, Big Brown was in third, and although he didn’t seem to be running smoothly, he was still in perfect striking range.  But jockey Kent Desormeaux felt that something was wrong, so he eased Big Brown away from the field, galloping home for a beyond-disappointing DEAD LAST finish (if you call that a “finish” — It might as well have been a “dnf” (“did not finish”).  Desormeaux THOUGHT that Big Brown was injured, and you could see why he thought that, since his horse seemed to be struggling against him, in total contrast to the previous two races where man and beast came together as one.

It’s too early to state for sure, but the post-race inspections revealed NO injury.  They still have to check for internal injuries like “bleeding” or mucus problems, but the Trainer seems to think that it was more a matter of the horse just not being in the zone on Saturday, with the longer distance also being a contributing factor.  What looked like an injury could have actually been fatigue.

But that’s hard to believe, after watching how effortlessly Big Brown won the last two, so the “conspiracy” theories — which in this case are completely understandable — are already popping up.   

The first one involves steroids.  Apparently, before the Belmont, the Trainer had just stopped giving Big Brown his routine injection of steroids, saying that he wanted to prove to everyone that Big Brown didn’t “need” steroids to continue being a Super Horse.  Let’s hope Barry Bonds is taking notes:  If he ever comes back, no one wants to see him be a powerless Singles hitter.

The second “conspiracy” theory involves MONEY.  With all the money that is wagered and changes hands over this 2+ minute race, some well-connected people must be tempted to take advantage.  When such a high percentage of money is bet on one horse, the possibility of altering the expected outcome becomes slightly more tangible.  If a bookie took in a shipload of Big Brown money, but KNEW something, so he didn’t lay any off (to limit his exposure), he could cash in big time.  We are not “endorsing” this theory, just trying to accept the fact that just because it happens on “Law and Order” doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in real life.  If you were a jockey whose family was threatened, would you ride with the same fervor?  However, we are NOT blaming or accusing Desormeaux of wrongdoing — just saying that there has GOT to be a better explanation than “the horse got tired.”

On the other hand, there is a REASON why about a dozen straight horses that entered the Belmont with their Triple Crown hopes still alive all got beat.   Too bad so many gamblers forgot that fact on Saturday, and let their wishful thinking and handicapping skills overwhelm their last 30 years of experience.


Coming soon to this website:  A pictorial to help all the trojans who are fighting over the PERCEIVED lack of quality of the usc song girls and the trojan dance force, over on Scott Wolf’s sc blog, where it is the undisputed #1 Most Popular subject.  That actually makes sense — What ELSE are they going to discuss, O.J. Mayo and Bushgate?  And speaking of Bushgate, did you see that Bush is STILL desperately trying to make the whole thing go away?  His lawyers have asked for the lawsuit to go directly to arbitration, meaning that all the depositions that were going to FRY usc, will never happen, or will never be made available to the NCAA or other investigating bodies.  And without that info, the NCAA will of course be impotent.  So it looks like sc money and legal eagles will once again save trojans from the Death Penalty.


Below are 9 more photos from “Belmont Day” … at Hollywood Park.  They all have mouse-over captions, and the first one is already full-sized for you, but the rest you can click on to enlarge.  Feel free to print one up as a souvenir that will have the same value as a Big Brown ticket from Saturday, that so many people purchased JUST AS souvenirs, but you don’t have to spend two bucks.

The flamingos are smart enough to stay away from the betting windows.

Does she know that she’s talking to a lawn jockey statue?

Don’t know if his name is Horatio, but his horn announces that the horses are coming onto the track.

Not to blow my own horn, but do I know how to photograph a nice piece of brass, or what?

I’m surprised — and GLAD — that the horses aren’t covered with ads, like NASCAR vehicles.

“…and DOWN the stretch they come!!!”

The horse 4 from the rear looks like he’s in trouble.

Russell Baze, the World’s All-Time Winningest Jockey, in Blue and Gold.

…and here’s Baze with an Owner, probably asking why his horse jumped in the air as he was coming out of the gate, and then finished dead last (Hey — just like Big Brown).


One response to “DA’ TARA’D AND FEATHERED”

  1. SV to SC Avatar
    SV to SC

    Since you have experience in the horse racing game, would you say it is possible that, like many other exceptional “athletes”, when Big Brown saw that 1-2 other horses were right with him after 1 mile, he wasn’t used to that, got discouraged and gave up?

    [T-H’s Note: Sure, it’s possible, but I think there is more to it. I don’t think he looked “right,” even in the middle of the race.]