NEW YORK | Big Brown‘s racing career ended Monday when the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner injured his right front foot during a workout at Aqueduct Race Course in New York.
Michael Iavarone of IEAH Stables, co-owners of Big Brown, said the 3-year-old colt tore a three-inch piece of flesh off the foot after it collided with his right rear foot while working over Aqueduct’s turf course with stablemate Kip Deville.
“This was a complete fluke,” Iavarone said. “He hadn’t had issues with his feet for a while and to have him come up just like this was a shock to all of us.”
Iavarone said the injury would take around two months to heal, making it impossible for Big Brown to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. With the strapping bay due at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., by the end of the year to begin his stud career, Iavarone said there simply isn’t enough time to get Big Brown back on the track one last time.
“We don’t have a choice but to retire him,” Iavarone said. “It’s gut-wrenching.”
The injury itself isn’t life-threatening, Iavarone said, but he added it’s important to make sure infection doesn’t set in while he recovers.
Iavarone watched from the backstretch at Aqueduct while Big Brown completed the six-furlong work and thought his horse was ready for a possible shot at reigning Horse of the Year Curlin in the BC Classic until Iavarone returned to the barn and saw the troubled look on trainer Rick Dutrow’s face.
“It looks like he grabbed himself in a bad spot,” Dutrow said.
Big Brown will spend several weeks in New York while he recovers before being shipped to Three Chimneys. The injury caps a brilliant but somewhat controversial career for Big Brown, who won seven times in eight starts, including dominant runs in the Derby and the Preakness, and earned $3.6 million.
His bid to become the first Triple Crown champion since 1978 ended during a bizarre Belmont Stakes in which he was eased by jockey Kent Desormeaux at the turn and he trotted across the finish line far behind the rest of the field.
Big Brown bounced back from the Belmont with wins in the Haskell Invitational and the Monmouth Stakes and was poised for a shot at Curlin, horse racing’s all-time leading money winner. Not anymore, a fact that “saddened” Curlin’s majority owner Jess Jackson.
“I am equally disappointed that Big Brown and Curlin will never compete against each other,” Jackson said in a release. “It was a dream of mine and thousands of other fans of the sport.”