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Sep 19, 2008

Big Brown holds on to take Monmouth Stakes


Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown held off a late-charging Proudinsky down the stretch to win Saturday's inaugural running of the $500,000 Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park. The colt was making his first start on the turf since his initial career start a year ago.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the nine horse field, Big Brown took the lead shortly after the start and led the field around the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch. Racing in second was Get Serious, as the top two runners opened up a sizable gap from the remainder of the field.

Big Brown, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, maintained the lead around the final turn and into the stretch as Proudinsky drew into contention. Also rallying down the stretch was Shakis, who passed the tiring Get Serious.

The favorite was able to hold off the hard-charging Proudinsky and rider Ramon Dominguez to capture the grass race by a neck. Shakis finished third, just a half-length behind Proudinsky and Silver Tree rallied to finish fourth.

"Except for his last race, the Haskell, I've never asked him to break," Desormeaux said. "Today when the gates opened, I chirped at him and he responded. It made a huge difference going into that first turn when that other horse (Get Serious) left his side. When that happened, he focused and calmed down.

"I think he showed you what kind of heart he's got. When Proudinsky did get to his neck, I knew we had him. My horse just resurged and kept digging all the way to the wire."

Rounding out the order of finish was Fagedaboudit Sal, Hotstufanthensome, Get Serious, Nightscape and Kiss the Kid. Drum Major and Ballonenostrikes were both scratched to run in a stakes race at Philadelphia Park.

The final time for the 1 1/8 mile turf race was 1:47.41 on a course listed as good.

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr. for IEAH Stables and others, Big Brown garnered his second straight victory since his disastrous Belmont Stakes. The win was worth $300,000 to bring his career total to better than $3.6 million.

"The way he dug down this afternoon showed his true heart and his true courage," noted Michael Iavarone, co-CEO of IEAH Stables. "There is nothing he can do that will surprise me any more.

"I got a little worried after the quick early fractions, especially with that horse (Get Serious) rating in just behind him. In the lane, I watched the way Kent (Desormeaux) was riding and once I saw he was still riding with confidence, I was able to relax."

The bay colt has a career record of seven victories in eight lifetime starts, with additional wins in the Florida Derby and Monmouth's Haskell Invitational. His next and final race will be the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Santa Anita's synthetic track on October 25.

Big Brown returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20. Proudinsky paid $3.00 and $2.40, and Shakis paid $2.80 to show.

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