10/14/2010 2:31PM

Of Da' Tara, Big Brown, Touch Gold and Silver Charm


I saw online today that Da' Tara will be sold as a racing or breeding prospect at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Da' Tara, of course, won the 2008 Belmont Stakes at 38-1 that is far better known as the Belmont in which Big Brown was pulled up as the 1-5 favorite to sweep the Triple Crown. That turned out to be the only race Big Brown ever lost.

In retrospect, that Belmont seemed a little cursed. Although Big Brown did come back to win the Haskell and a Monmouth Stakes specially created for him, he never really did go on to do the things many expected from him, and so was something of a disappointment after that Belmont.

As for Da' Tara, he has not raced since last November, so good luck to anyone thinking about buying him as a racing prospect, and he has not won in 11 starts since that Belmont. The closest he came was a second, beaten a neck, in an optional claimer/allowance at Gulfstream. Six of Da' Tara's 11 post-Belmont Stakes starts were in stakes races, and he recorded a fifth, a sixth, three sevenths, and an eased. How did Da' Tara win that Belmont by 5 1-4 lengths?

I also saw online today that Touch Gold is one of a handful of stallions Adena Springs will send to stand here in New York next year. Touch Gold, of course, denied Silver Charm a sweep of the 1997 Triple Crown by catching that opponent in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes. But Touch Gold's place in history as a Triple Crown spolier is very different than Da' Tara's.

I have always maintained that Silver Charm shouldn't have even been in the position of being able to sweep the Triple Crown because he wasn't the best horse in his Preakness. Touch Gold was. Touch Gold stumbled badly at the start of that year's Preakness, ripping one of his feet to shreds. Yet despite that, and despite having to rally from well off the pace over a track at Pimlico that was strongly speed biased, and despite having to steady going into the far turn and again in the stretch, Touch Gold was beaten only 1 1-2 lengths while finishing fourth. Touch Gold was much the best in that Preakness, and he proved it when he came back to win the Belmont on 3 1-2 feet.

This is not meant to denigrate Silver Charm. He had a far better career than Touch Gold did and is thoroughly deserving of his place in the Hall of Fame. But during that Triple Crown season of 1997, you can't convince me Touch Gold wasn't the better horse.