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Big Brown's first trainer, Reynolds, happy and sad
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Pat Reynolds admits that he'll have mixed emotions watching Big Brown run in Saturday's 134th Kentucky Derby.
Reynolds, 57, was the original trainer of Big Brown and saddled him to an 11 1/4-length debut victory in a maiden turf race at Saratoga last Sept. 3. A few weeks later, owner Paul Pompa Jr. sold a 75 percent interest in Big Brown to the International Equine Acquisitions Holding Stable for approximately $3 million. Part of the condition of the sale was that the horse be transferred to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., whom IEAH employs.
Under Dutrow, Big Brown posted dominant victories in an allowance race and the Grade 1 Florida Derby and enters the Kentucky Derby as the 3-1 morning-line favorite. Reynolds said he likely would watch the Derby from his Long Island home unless he has a horse to run at Belmont Saturday.
"If I didn't have mixed emotions I wouldn't be a human being," Reynolds said in a recent interview. "Do I wish my name was in the program? Certainly. We did what was best for the outfit, especially with Paul being able to retain a piece of the horse. Selling was a no-brainer. Fortunately, I work for a guy that believes in entitlement and takes care of you the right way."
Both Reynolds and Pompa confirmed that Reynolds received a 10 percent commission from the sale.
Reynolds also said that the money Pompa got for the sale has enabled him to go out and buy more young horses. Pompa recently purchased an Awesome Again 2-year-old for $340,000.
"Paul was able to purchase some real nice babies," Reynolds said. "I might have the next Big Brown over there as we speak, I don't know."
Big Brown to wear front bandages
Big Brown will wear front bandages for the first time in a race when he starts as the probable favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
Big Brown wore the bandages in his three-furlong workout Thursday morning that Daily Racing Form timed in 35.33 seconds. Ninety-minutes later, at a morning press conference, Dutrow revealed that the horse would wear the bandages for the first time in a race.
"The first time we ran him he burned a little bit on his right heel, just a little bit," Dutrow said, referring to a March 5 allowance win at Gulfstream. "Ever since then I breezed him with bandages. Actually, I should have put bandages on him in his last race because he did burn a little bit again. It's not anything for anyone to worry about, but I am going to put bandages on when he runs.
"I don't like doing it because it'll bring up a lot of questions, but it's only because he burned a little bit on his right front heel."
Colonel John a running tribute
Bill and Susan Casner lost their youngest daughter, Karri, in a terrorist bombing at a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002. Their family has gathered here this week for the Kentucky Derby, in which the Casners, part owners of WinStar Farm, will run Colonel John and Court Vision.
WinStar owns half of Court Vision and all of Colonel John, who was named for Lt. Col. John Geider, a career soldier and diplomat, and friend of the Casners, who assisted them in Bali during their most harrowing hours.
Colonel John was their tribute to Geider. And if you look closely at Colonel John's silks, which will be worn on Saturday by jockey Corey Nakatani in the Derby, you will notice the initials "KC" on the shoulders, the Casners's subtle, poignant tribute to their daughter.
"I feel like she's with us all the time," Susan Casner said outside Colonel John's stall the other morning. "Karri loved horses, and she loved horse racing."
According to Bill Casner, putting Karri Casner's initials on the sleeves of WinStar's silks was the inspiration of Kenny Troutt, who is partners with the Casners in WinStar.
"He thought of it as a memorial to our daughter," Bill Casner said. "When she was killed, it was something Kenny suggested we do."
Now, Susan Casner believes, Colonel John "has an angel riding with him."
Bargains are few in Derby future wager
The 10-year history of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager has produced some interesting results. The record payoff came in 2003, when Funny Cide, a mere 12-1 on Derby Day, paid $188 for a $2 wager in the second of three future wager pools that year. The most underlaid payoff came in 2005 when Giacomo, who returned $102.60 on Derby Day, paid just $52 in Pool 1 and $54.20 in Pool 2.
A look at the three pools from the 2008 futures reveals that there are a few potential overlays and underlays, but only a few possibilities unfolded this year to rival the extremes of Funny Cide and Giacomo.
The biggest possible payoffs would come on Smooth Air, the Florida Derby runner-up who figures in the 40-1 range Saturday. Smooth Air was 159-1 in Pool 1, and 192-1 in Pool 2. Another big futures overlay is Gayego, who was 111-1 in Pool 2 and 57-1 in Pool 3.
The possible underlays include Pyro, who, in order, was 5-1, 4-1, and 5-1 in the three pools. His morning line for Saturday is 6-1. Also, Cool Coal Man was just 26-1 and 20-1 in the last two pools, and he figures as a big longshot Saturday.
Big Brown, the Derby favorite, was a field horse in the first two pools - 3-1 and 6-1, respectively - then was the 3-1 favorite in Pool 3 after romping to victory in the Florida Derby. So probably the best win payoff a bettor could get on Big Brown would be to have bet on the field in Pool 2.
Alexa King to sculpt Barbaro
Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the owners of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, announced Thursday that equine sculptor Alexa King has been commissioned for the bronze statue that will be erected just outside the Churchill entrance sometime next year. Nearly 100 artists inquired about the project, according to the Jacksons.
The statue concept was announced earlier this year by the Jacksons. It will be placed outside Gate 1, near adjacent entrances to the grandstand and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Barbaro's ashes will be interred beneath the statue.
King has 26 years of experience and studied oil painting and portraiture under the noted painter William Ashby.
* Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable will donate any Derby earnings by their homebred Cowboy Cal to the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston. The donation will be made in memory of John Long, a child who applied the nickname "Cowboy Cal" to the McNairs' son, Cal, more than 30 years ago. Long underwent treatment for cancer at the center but died at age 3.
- additional reporting by Glenye Cain, Marty McGee, Jay Privman