Smile Politely

Big Brown Preps for the Classic, Music Note Poised to Crush Rivals

Is Big Brown Ducking Stiffer Competition?

This Saturday will mark both the second and last time Big Brown will race on the turf. In the newly created, ungraded Monmouth Stakes, Big Brown is slated to make his final prep for the Breeder’s Cup Classic against a field of sub par competition… again. Unlike his classmates and would-be rival, Curlin, Big Brown hasn’t been pointed toward races against tough competition since the Black Belmont. Yes, he won the Haskell, and he did so by flattening out to win against a horse who’d never won a graded stakes race. This year’s crop of three-year-olds has been accused of being much less impressive than last year’s, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

Colonel John, Pyro, Macho Again — they’ve all been racing each other since the Triple Crown. Though none of them shows the superiority of a Curlin or a Street Sense, they are at least facing worthy rivals. By running in a race that was virtually non-existent before Mike Lavarone said he wanted someone to “create a race” on or around September 13, the Kentucky Derby winner seems to be taking the low road to the Classic.

In his maiden race, Big Brown wowed his future co-owners and fans, winning by over 11 lengths on Saratoga’s turf. It was a race that sealed his fate, one that would turn over his training to Rick Dutrow and part of his ownership to IEAH Stables. Sometimes I wish he’d never run that maiden so impressively. Maybe Big Brown would be in a better position today, with brighter prospects and a year of racing to look forward to still ahead.

The turf was kind to Brownie that day, and it’s a surface that is kinder to his feet, hence the recent work-outs over the grass. His connections say he may be better on the turf than he is on dirt, but we all know how Brownie’s barn is full of hot air. The Monmouth Stakes is being used as his final prep for the Breeder’s Cup Classic also because turf horses are said to transfer to the synthetics more smoothly than dirt horses. So while other horses will be trying synthetics for their final preps for the Classic, Brownie will hide out at Monmouth with older horses who aren’t likely blazing their own paths toward the Breeder’s Cup. But we are actually getting to see Big Brown race again, so I guess complaining is hypocritical. This will be Brownie’s second to last race. Enjoy him while you can.

If you want to see a real show, follow Music Note to the Gazelle

One filly who’s trying to garner a Grade I collection is Music Note, the winner of the Mother Goose Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks. The three-year-old filly won’t be facing Proud Spell this Saturday in the Grade I Gazelle Stakes, giving her the edge over a field of four other fillies. Her biggest competition will likely come in the form of Country Star, a filly who was highly regarded before bouncing in the Kentucky Oaks, finishing fifth. The bay filly has recently recovered with a win in an allowance over the turf at Saratoga and looks to be the best choice to upset Music Note, though that seems highly unlikely.

Music Note would’ve been on a winning streak had she not had to face Proud Spell in her last start in the Alabama, where she lost by a mere smidgen of a nose at the wire. In her previous start with Proud Spell, Music Note prevailed after a stumble and went on to win after Proud Spell was checked in the stretch and ultimately disqualified from a game second-place run. If Proud Spell had not been forced to endure such a horrible trip, Music Note may not have been able to get away so easily.

In her last race without her rival, Music Note ran away from the field in the Coaching Club American Oaks, winning by twelve lengths. “Look at this filly just take off like a rocket!” cried the announcer as the filly shot away from the rest of the field. If Tom Durkin’s exclamation over Music Note’s performance says anything about her talent, her return to Belmont in the Gazelle will likely be a momentous one.

Watch Big Brown run in the Monmouth Stakes exclusively on TVG. Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. CST.

The Grade I Gazelle will be broadcast live on HRTV and TVG. Post time is scheduled tentatively for 4:15 p.m. CST.

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