07/31/2008 11:00PM

Desormeaux tries to sweep away past


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Kent Desormeaux will be seeking redemption for Big Brown and himself when he rides the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

It will be the first time Desormeaux has climbed on Big Brown's back since he pulled the horse up with a quarter-mile remaining in the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Two days after the race, Desormeaux took a lot of heat from trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who was extremely critical of Desormeaux's ride in the early stages of the Belmont and his decision to pull the horse up.

At the time, Desormeaux said he did what he did because the horse had been passed by every other horse in the race and there was no point persevering on him. Desormeaux said he wouldn't change what he did.

"I can't, no," he said this week on the Saratoga backstretch. "I think it had to be done that way, it was the right thing to do."

Four days after the Belmont, Desormeaux met with Dutrow at the trainer's Aqueduct barn.

"He spoke to me like I was a superhero," Desormeaux recalled. "We just needed to talk, that was all. We just needed communication. We hadn't had any prior to that."

On Friday, Dutrow said he didn't recall what he discussed with Desormeaux in that meeting. Dutrow said he still doesn't understand why Desormeaux pulled Big Brown up but said, "I'm fine" with the jockey.

Michael Iavarone, head of the group that owns majority interest in Big Brown, said he was only upset with the dramatic manner in which Desormeaux pulled up the horse. But he didn't blame Desormeaux for the defeat.

"For us to point our finger at any one thing or any individual that got us beat wouldn't be fair," Iavarone said.

Iavarone said that the conditions of the Haskell and the speed-favoring nature of Monmouth Park are such that Desormeaux should be able to have Big Brown into the race immediately.

"The strength of this horse is his ability to get out of the gate and carry his speed," Iavarone said. "That doesn't mean necessarily we're going to be on the lead, but I don't expect us to be six [lengths] back."

The last time Desormeaux saw Big Brown was July 18 when he paid a visit to Dutrow at Aqueduct to inquire about a different horse he wanted to ride for the trainer. Desormeaux said Big Brown looked "vibrant" and he's hoping that translates to a big performance Sunday.

"I'm so hopeful to put this all to bed, sweep it under the rug with a scintillating victory," Desormeaux said. "That's what I'm hoping for."