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Keeping the ball, & the horse in play

2008 June 9
by Skip Sauer

Henry Waxman is a master at milking sports for publicity:

“It’s clear that some of the information Major League Baseball and the players union gave the committee in 2005 was inaccurate,” Waxman said in a written statement. “It isn’t clear whether this was intentional or just reflects confusion over the testing program for 2003 and 2004. In any case, the misinformation is unacceptable.”

Manfred, speaking for the commissioner’s office, said that he and Selig had testified truthfully.

“The testimony of Major League Baseball officials was completely accurate, and we are happy to address any concerns that Congressman Waxman may have,” Manfred said.

Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel, said in reference to Fehr: “Don’s statements at the March 2005 hearing were accurate. If Congressman Waxman has any questions, we would be happy to respond.”

Vis a vis the horse, various commentators have stated that Big Brown’s loss in the Belmont might be the last time we see him on the racetrack. NY Times columnist Joe Drape uses a bit of economic logic to suggest otherwise:

Before the Preakness, Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., purchased a percentage of Big Brown’s stallion rights in a deal valued at $60 million.

If he had become the first to sweep the series since Affirmed in 1978, Big Brown would have been expected to stand for at least $200,000 a mating and, as the only living Triple Crown champion, would have been worth up to $120 million.

Instead, I.E.A.H. and Big Brown’s other co-owners are going to be hard pressed to restore the colt’s stallion market to perhaps half of that $60 million level. Big Brown does not have a particularly fashionable pedigree: his sire, Boundary, stood for $10,000 for 11 seasons before being pensioned, and he produced a modest 16 stakes winners, mostly sprinters.

Big Brown is pointed to run in the Travers at Saratoga in August, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in October at Santa Anita, where he is likely to meet Curlin, the reigning horse of the year.

“It puts a little more pressure on us to win those races,” Iavarone said. “I know a lot of people say we haven’t beaten anyone, and we needed to take on older horses.”

So for now, Big Brown’s future is pretty straightforward.

If he can stay healthy, he will run again. As for the poor performance Saturday, it might be the case of a bunch of little things all adding up to a dull performance. The best explanation I’ve seen so far comes from veterinarian Sid Gustafson in his post at The Rail.

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