No steroids for Big Brown in the Belmont

Updated: June 5, 2008, 7:05 PM ET
Associated Press

For The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Big Brown will not run on steroids Saturday in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said.

Dutrow created a stir before the Preakness when he said all the horses in his stable, including Big Brown, received a monthly shot of Winstrol.

On Thursday, Dutrow said Big Brown will not get another treatment before his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years.

"It's just too much for three races in five weeks," Dutrow said. "He's doing absolutely fabulous."

Winstrol, an anabolic steroid known to increase appetite and weight, is legal in New York. Winstrol is the same steroid for which Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when he was stripped of his gold medal. More recently, Roger Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, said he injected the pitcher with Winstrol in 1998.

On the advice of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, Dutrow also reduced Big Brown's dose of electrolytes.

"The horse looks like an absolute picture so I didn't want to mess with anything, you know," Dutrow said.

Greg Bennett, Dutrow's primary veterinarian, said Thursday that a sterile solution of electrolytes is given intravenously by a stomach tube.

He said Dutrow may change his mind and give Big Brown a dose before the Belmont to keep him hydrated because Saturday's forecast calls for highs in the 90s. Big Brown runs on Lasix, a legal anti-bleeding medication that can cause a horse to lose electrolytes.

Big Brown had an easy morning, going out at first light for a jog around the muddy track. It was a departure from the normal schedule of exercising around 8:45 a.m.

"It was clear the track wasn't going to improve so we decided to take him out," exercise rider Michelle Nevin said. "There was no point in hanging out."

It was his first trip to the track in two days. Big Brown remained in the barn Wednesday after his final Belmont workout Tuesday morning.

"He was full of energy and that's a good thing," Nevin said. "After the day off yesterday, it was like party time going out there today."

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BAFFERT REFLECTS: Nobody knows the heartbreak of the Belmont Stakes better than Bob Baffert.

Three times Baffert brought a Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner to the Belmont: Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). All three failed in their quests for the Triple Crown.

Baffert, who does not have a Belmont runner this year, reflected on the strain the Triple Crown with its three races in a five-week span. He recalled a conversation he had recently with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

"We said if we went to our owner and said, 'Hey, I'm going to buy you this horse and we're gonna run him at a mile-and-a-quarter and two weeks later at a mile-and-three-sixteenths and three weeks later a mile-and-a-half, he'd say 'You're not going to do that with my horse.'

"It's something that only certain horses can handle. There's been horses like Spectacular Bid and Sunday Silence, really good horses that got beat in the Belmont because maybe they just couldn't handle the stress of it all."

In Big Brown, Baffert sees a horse that could stand the strain.

"I think he wins," Baffert said. "This horse is just a different kind of horse. He's just a freak -- you don't know where they come from. They're genetic freaks, all the great ones. That's the way they are. He's just an amazing horse. He's fun to watch and I know my 3-year-old boy loves Big Brown. That's all he talks about, Big Brown."

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RIDING THE RAILS: Looking for extra horsepower to get you to the Belmont Stakes? The Long Island Rail Road says its engines are revved up and ready.

The LIRR is offering extra trains Saturday for the throngs hoping to see Big Brown win the Triple Crown.

Don't plan TOO big of a celebration, though.

The MTA police will be enforcing a "no alcohol" policy on Belmont Park trains. Bags and coolers will be subject to search prior to boarding.

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FINISH LINES: Champagne Squall, one of the two stablemates that accompanied Belmont runner Casino Drive from Japan, finished second as the 4-5 favorite in the fourth race at Belmont. He is now winless in five races. ... Big Brown has the rail for the Belmont, the post that has produced the most winners: 23. ... At 2-5 on the morning line, Big Brown will probably be the 31st odd-on favorite in the Belmont. Only 12 odds-on favorites have won with Triple Crown winner Affirmed the most recent in 1978.

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AP Racing Writer Richard Rosenblatt contributed to this report.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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