This horse has an awesome ability to accelerate. You could really see it in the overhead blimp shot of today's Preakness. As the field turned for home, Kent Desormeaux asked him and he made like a top-fuel dragster, leaving the others struggling in his wake as he roared off down the lane. Over the last furlong, the jockey was actually reeling him in, because the trainer's orders were to save as much oomph as possible for the Belmont in three weeks. Big Brown won by 5 1/4 lengths.
I wouldn't be surprised if Big Brown has inherited the extra-large heart, the gene for which is carried on the X chromosome and traces back to 18th-century ancestor Eclipse. More and more, his performance might inspire a comparison to Secretariat, who also had the huge heart (21 pounds, compared to the average size of 8-9 pounds for a Thoroughbred heart) with its ability to crack up more oxygen and pour on that kind of acceleration. But in the meantime Brownie has to equal Secretariat's feat of winning the Belmont.
So the winner's circle was all happiness today -- no horses hurt or dead -- and Big Brown went straight back to the barn, looking like he had hardly broken a sweat...foregoing the blanket of black-eyed susans because he has a phobia about flowers.
Kudos to ESPN for organizing the frank panel discussions on horse safety and welfare, which took place during the countdown to post time. It looks like the NTRA, the Jockey Club and others in the racing industry might finally feel compelled to make some major changes that will benefit the animals. Hopefully Eight Belles didn't die for nothing. -- Patricia Nell Warren