Big Brown Kentucky Derby favourite

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - No one knows Big Brown better than Michelle Nevin.
The exercise rider for the unbeaten Kentucky Derby favourite has ridden the big bay colt more than 100 times. She remains awed by his graceful stride and powerful running style.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - No one knows Big Brown better than Michelle Nevin.
The exercise rider for the unbeaten Kentucky Derby favourite has ridden the big bay colt more than 100 times. She remains awed by his graceful stride and powerful running style.
''The horse just floats over the ground,'' Nevin said in her Irish brogue following Big Brown's final workout before Saturday's Derby. ''You don't feel like you're going that fast at all. He just lengthens his stride. It's very smooth.
''It's very comfortable. He's like a powerhouse underneath you.''
Big Brown is all that, and more. The colt with three victories by a combined 29 lengths has created quite a backstretch buzz at Churchill Downs.
Dozens of photographers followed Big Brown to the track for Thursday morning's tuneup. Fans gawked at the striking colt, with one hollering, ''There goes the Derby winner.''
Also entered in Saturday's race is Canadian-owned Tale of Ekati, which is listed at 15-1 in the morning line. Tale of Ekati is owned by Charles Fipke, a diamond magnate who was born in Edmonton, but now resides in Kelowna, B.C.
After breezing three furlongs in 35.40 seconds, Big Brown barely worked up a sweat and walked back to the barn with a bounce in his step.
Asked if she was concerned about any of the 19 other horses in the field, Nevin smiled.
''Not after that,'' she said.
Big Brown has overcome tender front feet to take all involved on quite a ride. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. is telling everyone he has the best horse and plans to bet as much money as he can on Big Brown to win. Jockey Kent Desormeaux is as confident of victory as Dutrow. And IEAH Stables was so taken with the colt after his first victory, it paid a reported US$3 million to own a 75 per cent share.
The horse is named for UPS, a client of minority owner Paul Pompa Jr., and that has generated additional interest. During Dutrow's news conference, a UPS man dressed head-to-toe in brown wheeled up a bale of hay and made a mock presentation. The shipping label read: ''To Big Brown, Kentucky Derby winner's circle.''
Big Brown will have to deliver from the outside No. 20 post, where only one other Derby winner started from (Clyde Van Dusen in 1929). Also, Big Brown will attempt to become the first Derby winner with just three previous starts since the filly Regret in 1915.
No one seems concerned.
''We're not worried,'' Dutrow said. ''It's all good, babe.''
Dutrow & Co. - ''my people'' he calls them - have been enjoying every minute of this. But the trainer knows he wouldn't be at his first Derby without a horse like Big Brown.
''His talent and his ability got us here, not my training technique,'' Dutrow said. ''Any good enough horseman can do what I've done with this horse. Any jockey can do what Kent has done with this horse. Any groom, any hotwalker. It's the horse making the whole game go.''
The game started slowly for Big Brown, who missed training for two long periods with quarter cracks, the first cracked hoof on the left front foot, the second on the right front foot.
''It was very frustrating,'' Dutrow said.

Organizations: Ekati, Churchill Downs, UPS

Geographic location: LOUISVILLE, Edmonton, Kelowna

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