Sunday, June 08, 2008

Big Brown finishes last

Big Brown arrived at Belmont Park undefeated in five starts, winning all of them by a combined 39 lengths. His path to history seemed even more certain when unbeaten Casino Drive was scratched in the morning because of a bruised left hind hoof.

But he ran third most of the way until Desormeaux asked him for one of his explosive runs on the far turn of Belmont's 1 1/2 miles, the longest and toughest of the three classics.

When Big Brown turned for home, something wasn't right. Jockey Kent Desormeaux knew the big bay colt was finished. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who guaranteed racing's first Triple Crown in 30 years, knew it, too.

Big Brown straggled home last Saturday, losing the Belmont Stakes to 38-1 long shot Da' Tara, who led wire-to-wire. Eased up in the homestretch, the 1-4 favorite was so far behind at the end that his margin of defeat wasn't even charted.

"He was empty. He didn't have anything left," Desormeaux said. "There's no popped tires. He's just out of gas."

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