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May 09, 2008

Big Brown wins Kentucky Derby; tragedy strikes Eight Belles

Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Big Brown, overcoming the far outside post, rolled to a five-length victory Saturday in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The three-year-old, unbeaten in four career starts, can now become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

Big Brown, the 2-1 favorite in the 20 horse field, becomes the first winner of the Run for the Roses to start from the 20-post since the starting gate has been used. It also is the third Kentucky Derby win for jockey Kent Desormeaux who previously captured the race in 1998 with Real Quiet and with Fusaichi Pegasus two years later.

"We were dreaming of this happening," Desormeaux said. "He added power to the stride when I needed it."

Around the final turn and into the stretch Big Brown, on the outside, assumed the lead with the filly Eight Belles now second. Big Brown accelerated through stretch on his way to his fourth win in as many starts.

"The reality of it all is just starting to set in," said Michael Iavarone, the co-owner of Big Brown. "I knew all week being around the horse that he was going to run a big race. He was cool, calm and collected. Nothing seems to bother him."

However, tragedy struck the Kentucky Derby when second-place finisher Eight Belles, the lone filly in the race, broke down shortly after crossing the wire. The three-year-old suffered fractures to both of her front ankles and was euthanized on the track.

The field broke well at the start of the 1 1/4 mile race, though Pyro was pinched and dropped back to last. Cool Coal Man was the first out of the gate from the inside post. Taking the lead heading into the clubhouse turn was Bob Black Jack followed by Cowboy Cal. Big Brown was fifth on the outside away from trouble.

Around the first turn Bob Black Jack kept the lead with Cowboy Cal second and Cool Coal Man in third and Recapturetheglory running fourth. Up the backstretch in the $2.2 million race Bob Black Jack and jockey Richard Migliore led the field followed by Cowboy Cal, Recapturetheglory, Cool Coal Man and Big Brown fifth remaining to the outside of the leaders.

Entering the far turn Bob Black Jack still had the lead with Cowboy Cal second as Big Brown moved up to third while Eight Belles and jockey Gabriel Saez moved into fourth.

Finishing third was Denis of Cork followed by Tale of Ekati, Recapturetheglory, Colonel John, Anak Nakal, Pyro, Cowboy Cal, Z Fortune, Smooth Air, Visionaire, Court Vision, Z Humor, Cool Coal Man, Bob Black Jack, Gayego, Big Truck, Adriano and Monba.

The time for the 2008 Kentucky Derby was 2:01.82 on a fast track.

Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., Big Brown becomes the seventh undefeated thoroughbred to capture the Run for the Roses. In his four career wins the colt has won by a total of 34 lengths.

Picking up his first Kentucky Derby win was trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. who chose the far outside post at Wednesday's post position draw.

Big Brown was coming into the Run for the Roses off a wire-to-wire victory in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The Kentucky Derby triumph was worth $1.4 million to bring Big Brown's lifetime earnings to more than $2 million.

The colt is expected to start in the Preakness Stakes on May 17 at Pimlico, where he should be a prohibitive favorite. The third leg in racing's Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes which will be conducted on June 7 at Belmont Park.

Big Brown returned $6.80, $5.00 and $4.80. Eight Belles paid $10.60 and 6.40, and Denis of Cork paid $11.60 to show.

Affirmed is the last three-year-old to sweep the Triple Crown races when he and Alydar put on their monumental duels 30 years ago.

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