High-Hoofing in the Nick Zito Barn

Alone in the lane to the finish!

Big Brown’s loose shoe photo opens the door to controversy concerning his 2008 Belmont Stakes loss and Da’ Tara’s upset win. The subject is fiercely debated among the occupants of trainer Nick Zito’s barn.

STEVIL: “Hey, Da’ Tara, Belmont Stakes champion! Get a little Guiness with your victory meal?” 

DA’ TARA: (his nose touching his oats as he grins lopsidedly) “Yeah…eh, heh, heh.” 

FIERCE WIND: “Hey, Da’ Tara! You better be sober when your daddy (2-time Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Tiznow) calls!” 

STEVIL: “Hey, Da’ Tara! Press your telecommunications button. Chief’s on!” 

DA’ TARA: (his head springing up) “War Pass!?”

WAR PASS: (laughing) “It’s okay, kid. I know you’re celebrating. You should. You were great!” 

STEVIL: (smirking whinny) “Hey, Chief, Big Brown had a loose shoe in the Belmont.” 

COOL COAL MAN: “Yeah, I read that, too.” 

ANAK NAKAL: (sniffing noisily) “So what?” 

 WAR PASS: “Exactly. Bossman (Zito) always says a good horse can overcome that stuff. No matter, kid. You won.” 

FIERCE WIND: (fiercely) “Don’t you horses watch ESPN? It’s all over the networks and the media! The loose shoe made Big Brown slip up. It spooked him.” 

WAR PASS: “Nonsense! Knock that off, Windy! Big Brown needed to step up, big time, and he didn’t.” 

FIERCE WIND: (nasty whinny) “Aren’t you listening? There’s a photo. The loose shoe is plain as day.” 

STEVIL: “No one knows if Big Brown could have won if that shoe hadn’t come loose.” 

DA’ TARA: (hanging his head) “Does this mean my Belmont win will always have an asterisk?”

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Big Brown’s Loose Shoe

Winning at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky.

What happened to American racing Thoroughbred Big Brown was the burning question in 2008 when the Rick Dutrow-trained colt flipped off the Belmont Stakes and America’s potential twelfth ever Triple Crown championship by taking an unexplained powder.

What happened was, he’s a horse, of course. But let’s go to a stream of conscious report from the big fella himself:

BIG BROWN: (crashing from the Belmont Stakes gate) “Hey, Kent! Get me over…I don’t want the rail! Oh, I’m slipping…my back feet are stuck…there, okay.

“Hey, Guad (Guadalcanal, running next to him), look out…Get over, Guad! Kent! You falling off up there, or what? Guad, move it! Ouch! Get off my feet!” (Shaking his head left) “Now looky what you did, Guad! My shoe’s loose! It’s only the first turn, and my shoe is loose! You stepped on it, Guad!” (Shaking his head right) “Can you help me with this, Kent? Kent! Oh, this is useless; we can’t talk while (shaking his head backward) I’m running!

“I’ll have to slow down — that shoe hurts — now it’s okay…let’s move outside, Kent. Ouch! It’s off again…Geez! Okay…daylight…yeah, we’re through…backstretch coming. Kent! Let’s just get my spot…before this silly shoe slips again…Ouch! There it went…Nuts, I’m tired…backstretch…I’m pooped…this shoe! Third…ouch! I’m third..the reins are moving…fourth…Kent! Kent.

“No gas…I’m out…the Triple’s gone. This shoe! Sorry, Kent…I’m out.” (Trailing off to the right, shaking his head) “Are they booing us? Kent? Are they?!”

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