Dutrow feels 'like a loser,' questions Desormeaux's ride in Belmont

Updated: June 10, 2008, 6:20 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. says he feels "like a loser" after Big Brown's stunning last-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, and he was still searching for answers Monday about what went wrong.

Dutrow also remained somewhat puzzled by jockey Kent Desormeaux's performance aboard the colt, who became the first horse seeking the Triple Crown to finish last in 140 years of running the 1½-mile Belmont.

"I feel like a loser right now and I don't know why," Dutrow told the Daily Racing Form on Monday. "Usually when I get beat I can handle it the right way, and I've handled this the right way, but I just feel like something's not right."

Dutrow said he's been unable to find anything physically wrong with Big Brown. He said the quarter crack on the colt's left front hoof was fine and that he showed no signs of being sore.

Desormeaux eased up Big Brown with a quarter-mile remaining in the race, won by 38-1 long shot Da' Tara.

"I don't know why he had to do that," said Dutrow, who questioned Desormeaux's decisions in the race.

I feel like a loser right now and I don't know why.

--Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.

Dutrow still blames Desormeaux, but he wouldn't object to the jockey riding the horse in his next race.

The decision of whether to change jockeys is up to co-owner Michael Iavarone, Dutrow said.

"I don't want to hurt anyone, especially Kent," Dutrow told The Associated Press on Tuesday morning in his barn at Aqueduct. "But I still don't understand what happened. I don't see the horse with a problem, so I have to direct my attention toward the ride. That's all I can come up with."

Entering the first turn, Desormeaux took a hard hold of Big Brown and yanked him to the outside, bumping with Anak Nakal before finding running room outside of Tale of Ekati while Da' Tara opened up a three-length lead around the clubhouse turn.

"I'm sure he didn't have any idea what the hell was going on going into the first turn the way [Desormeaux] was switching him all over the damn track," Dutrow said. "I don't know what he was doing."

Dutrow insisted Tuesday he had found nothing wrong with Big Brown.

"Maybe next week if something starts going wrong with the horse, then I'll understand everything," he said.

Dutrow added: "As long as the horse stays the way that I see him right now, then things are just going to keep building up for me to know that it was the ride that did him in."

He said he hadn't spoken to Desormeaux, but "if he calls me I'll talk to him, sure."

Iavarone, co-president of the group which is part-owner of Big Brown, told The New York Times he did not think Desormeaux had a poor ride.

"We didn't tell Kent to ease Big Brown," Iavarone told The Times, "but we're glad he did. Kent was worried about the horse, and we're all glad that he brought him home healthy."

Desormeaux said Monday that his plan was to go to the lead, but that Big Brown slipped coming out of the gate and that he was pinched back a length. He said that he pulled Big Brown up because he wasn't going to finish anywhere but last.

"Given the situation I was in, there's nothing I could have done differently," Desormeaux said Monday on Dan Patrick's radio show. "I would have only hoped to break smarter. If we do it over again 100 more times, he's probably going to leave three in front and all they would have seen was his tail."

Iavarone told The Times that Big Brown never got a comfortable feel for Belmont's dried-out track. "It was deep and dry, and Big Brown had never been on a track like that."

Said Desormeaux: "Unfortunately, you know, the racetrack lost its ability. They lost water for probably two hours. The track that usually a horse can get a hold of had dried out and gotten powdery. So it wasn't normal to say the least."

The loss was Big Brown's first in six career starts, including dominating performances in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Dutrow said that unless Big Brown shows signs of a physical problem, the colt will be pointed to the Travers Stakes on Aug. 23 at Saratoga and then the Breeders' Cup Classic in October.

"I want to keep going with him," he said. "I want him to run big next time and run big after that, and then it can be over."

Big Brown will head for stud at Three Chimneys after his racing career. His total value has been pegged at about $50 million.

Dutrow had no regrets about his bombastic proclamation that Big Brown clinching the Triple Crown was a "foregone conclusion."

"It's not like I'm going to go and cry in the corner," he said as he prepared for several of his horses to run Wednesday at Belmont. "I've got plenty to do here."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.