OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Having gotten a useful and successful race into Big Brown last Saturday at Monmouth Park, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. can sit back and watch the last few rounds of Breeders' Cup prep races run without any feeling any pressure.
"We got ours, we're sitting and waiting," Dutrow said on a warm, breezy morning at Aqueduct, where he worked eight horses for upcoming races.
Dutrow said Big Brown came out of his neck victory over Proudinsky in Saturday's $500,000 Monmouth Stakes in good shape and will do "just basic stuff" between now and the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
While the Monmouth Sakes may have been written for Big Brown, it was certainly not handed to him. Quality graded stakes winners such as Proudinsky, Shakis, and Silver Tree made runs at Big Brown in the stretch, but none was able to get by. Big Brown ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.41 over ground labeled good and earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.
"He's been facing weak 3-year-olds all year," Dutrow said. "Jumping into older horses that had won stakes on the grass, that might have been the toughest field he's faced, I don't know."
Dutrow does know that the Breeders' Cup Classic will be even tougher - with or without reigning Horse of the Year Curlin in the field.
"That race is going to be tough," Dutrow said. "There's speed in the race, you got to deal with that track, shipping to California."
Dutrow said Big Brown would not ship to California until three days before the Classic. A representative of Tex Sutton, the equine air transport company, visited with Dutrow on Monday and said that Oct. 22 is tentatively planned as the last plane out. Dutrow has reserved several spaces on that plane for Big Brown, Kip Deville (Mile), and Salute the Count (Turf Sprint), with Looky Yonder (Filly and Mare Sprint), Frost Giant (Turf/Marathon), and Pictural (Sprint) possible to go.
Dutrow said Big Brown would do all of his training for the Classic at Aqueduct and would breeze strictly on the turf, weather and New York Racing Association management permitting. Dutrow doesn't believe he would gain an advantage by training Big Brown over the new Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.
"I know what's happening right here, so I want my horses to go to the race the right way and I'll know right here," Dutrow said, leaning on the outside rail of Aqueduct's main track. "I don't want to send them out there getting accustomed to the track; it doesn't make no sense to me, they're either going to like it or they're not. I don't care how much they train over it."
Dutrow is hoping the fact that Big Brown does so well on the turf will translate to success on Santa Anita's synthetic surface.
"These grass horses are supposed to like these Polytracks; that's what everybody says, that's what it looks like on some form," Dutrow said.
Big Brown could work as many as five times before the Classic. Meanwhile, Dutrow will sit back and wait for Sept. 27 to watch Curlin run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont and others prep in the Goodwood at Santa Anita the same day.
"I hope a couple of them freak on the 27th," Dutrow said. "Coming back [in four weeks] is a little too quick if you freak."
While Dutrow said he would like to see a meeting between Big Brown and Curlin in the Classic, he's not anticipating it or dwelling on it.
"I just care about us - we need to win that race," Dutrow said. Curlin's "got a big race coming up; he shows up again like he did last time, he's liable to get beat here. . . . The pressure is on him right now."
Dutrow said he plans to run Frost Giant, the Suburban winner, against Curlin in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Among the eight horses Dutrow worked Monday was Acai, the runner-up in the Pennsylvania Derby, who worked a half-mile in 50.94 seconds in preparation for the Indiana Derby on Oct. 4.