This horse wins every time the jockey lets the horse run his race. He did it in the Kentucky Derby and again in the Preakness. But in the Belmont the jockey decided to let the horse know who was in charge, a fatal mistake. Big Brown was about to settle on the rail for a long haul, one in which he surely would have run down the leaders as they faded toward the end, when the jockey jerked his head toward the rail.
Still the horse recovered and was focused on riding the rail when the jockey looked at the horse next to him and made the fateful decision to change the race and take Big Brown off the rail to the outside.
With his ears laid back Big Brown was ready for the fight but the jockey was not content to let the powerful horse have his way and again jerked the reins, this time slowing the horse and sending him to the outside around two other horses just after the first turn. Big Brown actually was being asked to slow down early in the race and then circle outside behind the leader. A really strange strategy in such a long race. Suddenly the ears went straight up as he was slowed and then eased to the outside.
As they flew down the track Big Brown looked back at the jockey with the most disgusted look I have ever seen on a face. He continued with his head up and glancing back at the jockey as he moved off the rail around the other horses.
The last thing anyone should do is change a horse during the most important race of its life. Like triple-crown champion Secretariat, Big Brown was well aware of what it took to win and how to achieve it. Each race in the triple-crown Secretariat ran differently and Big Brown was doing the same, until there was human interference. Now the horse was third on the outside.
By the last turn of the longest race in the triple-crown the jockey had Big Brown way to the outside, meaning he had to run much farther than any other horse. Big Brown quit because he knew how to win and was not about to let the jockey tell him different. Will we ever learn to trust the instinct of animals?
This is what his trainer had to say about the race. Dutrow — who spoke publicly for the first time since the Belmont, telling The Daily Racing Form he feels “like a loser” — said this regarding Desormeaux’s ride. He told the racing publication that he did not know why Desormeaux had to ease the horse at the top of the stretch. Dutrow said he was sure that Big Brown had no idea “what the hell was going on going into the first turn,” because Desormeaux “was switching him all over” the track. “I don’t know what he was doing,” Dutrow said.
If the trainer was confused how in the world could the horse have known what to do? The only time Big Brown was running his race, when he was finally settled at the rail in photo 3 his ears were laid back and he was focused. By the time the mixed signals from the jockey had him going to the outside his ears are straight up, a sign of confusion and frustration. For comparison, the following is the stretch run at the Kentucky Derby when he was left alone. Note the ears are way back as the horse thunders to victory.
So Affirmed remains as the last triple-crown champion and it will now be at least 31 years since the last winner.