Monday, June 2, 2008

Ok, Dutrow, We Get It: You're Confident

Let me just preface this by saying that I am not an avid fan of horse racing. I don't watch any horse races whatsoever during the year unless they happen to be of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont variety. Even then, I typically won't watch the Belmont unless the same horse has managed to win both the Derby and the Preakness. I am a sports fan, and as a sports fan I'd like to see a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime that I can actually remember, because I don't remember Affirmed galloping home in 1978 as I was likely too busy wailing like a baby and my tiny infant brain couldn't comprehend such things as television or horses.

All that being said, I think Rick Dutrow, the trainer for the 2/3 of the way to the Triple Crown horse Big Brown, is starting to make me cheer against the very thing I've tuned in for the past several years. The guy is a pompous ass, isn't he?
"I feel that he will do it. It's actually a foregone conclusion for me," Dutrow said Thursday during a conference call with the news media. "I see the horses in with him and I see our horse, and I expect him to win it."

Even when it was pointed out to Dutrow that the boldness of his statements might offend some competitors, he did not back down. "People who think I'm talking too big, all they have to do is see what I'm seeing in the horse," he said. "He's looking for action."
This is, of course, the same guy that compared Big Brown's temperment after winning the Preakness to his own at a strip club.

My perception of horse racing is that by its very nature, it is full of pompous, big-money owners who bleed money into the sport. That perception is also that it has a dignified air, and that its talking participants usually watch their words when discussing their sport. It's as if they might be a tad bit superstitious about the whole thing. After all, Big Brown is a horse with a recently repaired crack in its hoof trying to do what three other horses in the last six years have been unable to do: close out the Triple Crown after winning the first two legs. There are so many things that could go wrong with a horse race: you could get a poor starting position, the horse could stumble out of the gate, your jockey could temporarily lose his mind and ride the horse like a donkey, the horse could break down on the backstretch--you just don't know.

There are indicators that Dutrow might be just plain crazy. For instance, he claimed recently that one of the reasons Smarty Jones failed in his Triple Crown bid back in 2004 was that the horse worked out on "a sloppy, sealed track" at Philadelphia Park, which was clearly not the case.

Also, there's this stat: 59 horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Only 11 have actually gone on to win the Belmont. That's around a 19% success rate.

Either way, Rick Dutrow either has abnormally huge cajones that defy scientific norms or he is clinically insane. I guess we'll find out June 7th.

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