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Desormeaux: Slow start doomed Big Brown at Belmont


AUDIO:Dan Patrick talks to Kent Desormeaux

DAN PATRICK: Let's start with the pre-race. Did you notice anything with Big Brown?

KENT DESORMEAUX: Absolutely not, Dan. That horse was in perfect condition and he never took one bad step.

DP: When you were in the gate with this horse, were you thinking anything different than previous races?

KD: No, I was hoping for a nice, clean, pure break and I didn't get that. He slipped up front and kind of scrambled away from the gate and had already given up a length. That first quarter of a mile, that first turn could have been my demise. I had to rein him in, he was a little aggressive. Maybe it was too much time off. If he would have broke smart, my intent was to just wire the field. I thought the track was fast. I was hoping to break running and that didn't happen, I already had to call an audible. I reined him in. I actually was quite happy to get that position I was in, after we rounded into the first turn. But it took a lot of work to get it.

DP: If I said you could have a do-over with that horse, what would you do differently?

KD: Given the situation I was in, there's nothing I could have done differently. 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. Unfortunately, you now, the race track 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.

DP: Steroid factor -- did that have anything to do with that horse and how it ran or did not run on Saturday?

KD: No, absolutely not. You know, what steroids do is make a horse hungry and aggressive, and if you watch the race, he was definitely aggressive. And he never came out of the feed trough since they put him in the barn. All he does is eat. So I'm absolutely certain that steroids had nothing to do with it. The slippage, the first step out of the gate, probably was his demise.

DP: If you look at this horse, still the best horse you've ever ridden?

KD: By a hundred miles.

DP: You're still going to continue to race this horse, right?

KD: Absolutely. I think they've got two races in mind. They want to run him once before he attempts to win the Breeder's Cup Classic.

DP: So, two races that you know of that they'll race him, are you going to be the jockey for those two races?

KD: Yes I will, Dan. There's definitely no one pointing a finger in my direction. In fact, I've been complimented by the trainer and the owner. Believe me, I was spanking on him, encouraging him to run until I was last. Icabad Crane came inside me, bumped me out of the way, and proceeded on his endeavor to win the race, but at that point I was already like seventh and backing up fast.

I love horses, they have given me everything that I have. There was no way that I was going to beat this horse up to be last by then. Why not just be last in an easy fashion? It didn't make sense to me at all and at that point, when I couldn't keep up with the last place horse, I thought, Listen, let's take this home, get him home safe, and recharge his battery.

DP: Were you under any instructions to be careful of injuring this horse?

KD: Absolutely not. It was never a thought in our minds. The only instruction I was given was, 'If he can't win, take it easy on him.'

DP: But if you look at this though, Kent, and you have a horse that's invincible, and when I saw you in New York City earlier in the week, and just talking to you, there was no way you thought that horse could possibly lose. How does that happen?

KD: Well, you know what, it just allows me to have a deeper admiration for the eleven that have won the Triple Crown. I mean, you have to understand something, these horses that are winning the first two legs of the race have got to be doing it at a gallop, just toying with their competitors. There's no other way you can win three races in five weeks against the best horses in the world. And, you know, in hindsight, I think you have to realize that the horse ran out of his skin in the Preakness, and they do that by offering you a great effort. So, you know, though it was easy, it was easy because the horse put his best strides forward.

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DP: But how does that happen, that, at what point does a horse say I don't have it today or I don't feel like running?

KD: Well, you know what, when you encourage them to go and they say, "No, I'll see you next week," that's something that's tough to explain in layman's terms, but they just don't want to get into that fight. They just go for a gallop. They don't fight. There's no competitive spirit in them. And for whatever reason, it could be because I slowed Big Brown down and he decided, "You know what, I like going slow." That is something that I can't answer, that's just the horse.

DP: If you ran this race 10 more times, how many times are you winning?

KD: Nine.

DP: So you would allow that you would still not be 100 percent sure that you would win every race?

KD: I always allow that, I think you gather that from me in conversation. They still gotta open those gates and turn us loose. If they could talk we'd know what they're saying, but the reality is, Dan, that they don't talk and we can only, as humans, try to understand them from our viewpoint. And hopefully the signs they tell us from their everyday life is all we can gather to decide whether they're doing well or not. Whether they're eating, whether they're spirited, whatever they're doing ... that's how we have to train if they're happy. And the guy that trains 'em is one of the best at understanding if a horse is happy.

DP: What did it feel like when you got off Big Brown on Saturday, when you dismounted?

KD: Oh, I was sick man. I was frickin' noxious. I was gut wrenched. I felt like I had been just run over by a trash truck. I don't know, it was hard. It was hard. I felt so sad for the people, I felt like I had let all the horse racing fans down. I felt I had like I had let racing down, you know, I was hopeful to get this done, but it just wasn't meant to be. God's got a better story for us, something's gonna be learned from it.

DP: Do you look at it though, and you get off a horse, did you feel like you failed with that? When you get off and you didn't accomplish what you were supposed to accomplish do you personally fail?

KD: No, sir. At no point ever did I feel like I failed. I was saddened by the outcome of the event. I was hopeful that our team could help resurrect thoroughbred racing. I don't think horse racing gets any bigger than coming to that Belmont with a chance to win it. You know, it's a story that ends on that occasion, we were either going to win it or not, and I would have rather had the happy ending. But I don't think it gets any bigger than attempting the Triple Crown.

DP: You don't get paid, you get $50 to ride. Did you get $50 to ride in the Belmont?

KD: Maybe. I might have ended up with $50. By the time I paid tickets and what not for the hundreds of people that came out, I'm probably out about $25,000.

DP: But didn't you tell me you were riding other mounts, you get $50, and then if you won, then you would get a portion of the purse, right?

KD: Right, that's correct. I get six percent of the purse if I win.

DP: So, you didn't get anything because Big Brown didn't cash. You get $50 for riding Big Brown on Saturday.

KD: It's actually $100, I got $100 total.

DP: Is that cash, or by the time I take taxes out you're only getting like $48?

KD: That's right, there are employees of the game. I have an agent, I have a valet, I have insurance. My insurance costs me $110 a mount.

DP: So you lose money?

KD: I don't want to go there, Dan. I'm sorry for the fans that we couldn't complete the task that we were so hopeful to attain. At that point, you know, I was hopeful to become an immortal in the game, and an historical name in the game, but you know what, I'm not done yet. I'm not going anywhere. God has proven that lightning can strike twice in a bottle, so hopefully we can come back. What I don't like is the fact that Real Quiet, Funny Cide and now Big Brown all ran on the exact same dates and they all failed. May 4, May 17 and June 7. It's kind of, I don't like it. I didn't know that beforehand, I know it now.