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Morning briefing

Trainer for Big Brown talks big

June 02, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

With the Belmont Stakes coming up Saturday, it should be a fun week listening to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. He's already talking big about Big Brown.

Dutrow didn't hold anything back when, on a conference call with reporters last week, he was asked about his horse's chances of winning the Belmont and becoming horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

"I feel like it's actually a foregone conclusion," he said. "To me, I just see the horses he's in with, and I see our horse, so I expect him to win this race."

Casino Drive, a 5 3/4 -length winner of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 10, is considered Big Brown's top challenger despite having raced only twice. After the Preakness, Dutrow advised putting Casino Drive in a "cold" exacta with Big Brown, meaning he thought Casino Drive would finish second.

But now he's even hedging on that.

"This Japanese horse has got so much to prove," he said. "I don't know if he is on top of his game training. I'm getting different kinds of reports from people that think they know. I would not depend on that horse to be second."

Maybe one reason Dutrow talks so boldly is because he knows the horses won't be reading the press clippings.

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Trivia time

Kent Desormeaux rode Casino Drive to his victory in the Peter Pan, but because he will be aboard Big Brown on Saturday, Edgar Prado has picked up the mount on Casino Drive. Who was the 36-1 shot Prado rode in the 2004 Belmont that upset 3-5 favorite Smarty Jones?

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Some odd odds

Big Brown is listed as the early 1-3 favorite to win the Belmont, Casino Drive is the second choice at 7-2, and Denis of Cork is next at 10-1.

Here are a few other odds, courtesy of the online gambling site Bodoglife.com:

If Big Brown wins, it's 1-5 that the margin will be one to five lengths, 7-2 it will be six to 10 lengths and 20-1 it will be more than 10 lengths.

As for whom Desormeaux would thank after a victory, his family or a family member is the 6-5 favorite. Big Brown is 3-1, Dutrow 9-2 and the fans or general public 5-1.

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Odd names

Pimlico track announcer David Rodman talked to the Atlanta Journal Constitution about some of the more memorable horse names he's called. They include:

* Fast Buck Duck: "Called this one at Louisiana Downs . . . very carefully."

* Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk: "Sounded like a Stooge calling this one."

* Sunny Beach: "I've heard racing fans say this when their horse fails to win."

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Bathroom humor

NBC is planning to charge as much as $3 million for a 30-second commercial on next year's Super Bowl telecast.

"That translates to $100,000 per second," wrote Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News. "If too many people take potty breaks, that's a lot of money down the drain."

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Trivia answer

Prado rode Birdstone to victory in the 2004 Belmont, ending Smarty Jones' Triple Crown bid. Two years earlier, he rode 70-1 shot Sarava to victory over 6-5 favorite War Emblem, the Bob Baffert-trained horse who was also going after the Triple Crown.

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Lakers-Celtics fix

Can't wait to see Lakers and Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals? ESPN Classic may have the answer. Over the next three days the network will show Lakers-Celtics games from the 1984, '85, and '87 Finals. There will be two each day, beginning at 11 a.m. And on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., there will be a "SportsCentury" profile of Phil Jackson.

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And finally

Maybe you can't blame folks in Boston for being a little smug these days. Their teams are on a hot streak.

Wrote Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe: "A World Series, a Super Bowl, and now a trip back to the NBA Finals. These are golden days in our region. If you are a New England sports fan, every day is Thanksgiving."

The Lakers are hoping that they'll be like the crazy uncle who shows up to ruin the holiday feast. Isn't that what the underdog New York Giants did this year?

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

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