Big Brown rebounds in Haskell Invitational

August 3, 2008 4:07:34 PM PDT
Big Brown has bounced back from his last-place finish in the Belmont Stakes by winning the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.The win was in doubt until the final strides, when Big Brown finished with a flourish under jockey Kent Desormeaux and beat 20-1 long shot Coal Play by 1¾ lengths before a cheering crowd of 45,132 at Monmouth Park.

The 1 1-8-mile Haskell was Big Brown's first race since his Belmont flop ended the colt's quest to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.

Winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, Big Brown never had to rally in the stretch before. The 3-year-old colt won his first five starts by a combined 39 lengths before his inexplicable performance in the Belmont 57 days ago, when he was pulled up with a quarter-mile to go.

Coal Play, trained by Nick Zito, who won the Belmont with 38-1 shot Da' Tara, nearly gave the Hall of Famer another huge upset.

Coal Play led most of the race, but could not hold off a determined Big Brown.

When Desormeaux went to the whip entering the stretch, even Big Brown trainer Rick Dutrow said, "I thought we were going to get beat."

Big Brown beat six rivals and went off as the 1-5 favorite.

Winning time for the 1 1-8 miles was 1:48.31.

Cool Coal Play, also trained by Zito, was third, followed by Alaazo, Nistle's Crunch, Atoned and Magical Forest. Big Brown returned $2.40 for a $2 win bet.

The win was worth $600,000 for owners IEAH Stables, Paul Pompa Jr., Gary Tolchin and Andrew Cohen and boosted Big Brown's bankroll to $3,314,500.

While it's doubtful Big Brown will run next in the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 23, there are at least four other options: the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 1, the MassCap on Sept. 20, or the Jockey Club Gold Cup or Goodwood Breeders Cup (both Sept. 27).

Big Brown is being pointed to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.