Ever since Big Brown shat the bed at the Belmont on Saturday, we here at Rumors and Rants (well, at least me) have been eating it up with a spoon. (Figuratively speaking of course, since horses crap in their beds on a daily basis and we still haven’t had to resort to literally eating it despite a low income level).
As you read here on Friday– OK, so you didn’t since I didn’t post until 3:30 in the afternoon and you were already figuring out how to get out of work early — we were big advocates of the possibility of Big Brown’s downfall. But for the horse to lose in such spectacular fashion — last place! — went beyond even my wildest dreams.
The speculation has been running rampant as to what caused this epic collapse, from SI.com’s Tim Layden suggesting that the horse was under-worked leading up to the race to the New York Post’s Ray Kerrison highlighting various trainers who pointed the finger at jockey Kent Desormeaux for doing a terrible job at riding and whipping. ESPN.com’s Pat Forde had the angle I liked the most, saying that bad karma did in Big Brown trainer and general douche Rick Dutrow.
There is also the question of steroids, which Big Brown used prior to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but not Belmont. It can be understood, then, if people started referring to Big Brown as the Juan Gonzalez of horse racing.
Initially, it appeared to race viewers that Big Brown may have been injured, which explains why Desormeaux pulled back and didn’t have the horse going full speed heading into the home stretch. However, we know now that there isn’t anything wrong with Big Brown other than the cracked hoof that was deemed to be a minor ailment.
So, what gives? Part of me wishes someone in the press box is on their way to unhatching some nefarious gambling plot like they did in “Eight Men Out.” After all, no sport is more tied to the mob than horse racing, and it would make sense if someone was on the take since no one was going to win any money betting on Big Brown, who was an overwhelming favorite.
However, the fact that Desormeaux would have made buku bucks as a Triple Crown-winning jockey erases any possibility of that angle making sense unless he is wildly in debt to a loan shark named Rocco who was threatening to put him at the bottom of the Ohio River in size-2 concrete shoes.
I think it’s more likely that Desormeaux pulled a page from the book of my friend Bob. One of my teammates from the intramural fields and courts of Indiana University, Bob was a guy who never let his talent get in the way of his performance — he was always the best player on the team, at least in his own mind.
So whenever Bob got beat in coverage for a touchdown, or had someone blow by him for a layup, the result was predictably the same. He would hit the ground and writhe in agony to make it look like he was hurt. There was some variety — it might be a twisted ankle, a pulled groin or a blown-out knee — but if anyone beat Bob, it was only the result of an injury that didn’t actually exist.
For a jockey, it’s a much easier lie to pull off — you can tell everyone that you thought your horse was hurt. You don’t even have to feign a limp. It’s a horse, he’s not going to say anything. And no one else was riding him, so who are they to say he didn’t feel funny? Once it became clear to Desormeaux that Big Brown wasn’t going to do any better than third, falling all the way back to last might have been the only way to save face and put the blame on something else.
Unfortunately for him, it seems he failed pretty badly at getting us to bite.