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Big Brown’s earnings potential also could be impacted by what his future holds. He can make millions from stud fees by retiring early, but his race winnings and merchandise sales would improve if he were to continue racing even for just a year or two, industry sources said. And a longer career also would benefit shipping company UPS, which signed a sponsorship deal with the horse before the Kentucky Derby.

“Obviously we’d like to maximize this opportunity as much as we can,” said UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella, who said the company was still exploring how the relationship with Big Brown might evolve if he wins the Belmont. “This sort of fell into our lap, but we’ve had a lot of fun with it.”