Dortmund: Accomplishing What Big Brown Couldn’t Finish?

Photo: Matt Wooley/EquiSport

Photo: Matt Wooley/EquiSport

There is something to be said about a horse that stands to live up to, or even surpass, their own sire; especially if that sire was an accomplished racehorse on the track.

This was the case with Rachel Alexandra and Medaglia d’ Oro.  She may not have equaled his bankroll, but many will argue that her campaign could rival any other male in this, or previous, Triple Crown trails. In fact, a colt with a resume like hers would have been fought over as a top stallion prospect.

This was the case with Zenyatta and the late great Street Cry. Though her sire has heart-breakingly left us already, many will not only fondly remember him as a fantastic sire but as a fabulous racehorse as well. He took the Dubai Word Cup and made a storm with his first crop producing not only Zenyatta but Kentucky Derby (Gr. I) and Breeder’s Cup Juvenile (Gr. I) winner Street Sense as well. Zenyatta not only surpassed his lifetime earnings, but she surpassed every female to ever race in North America as well; retiring as the top money earning filly.

There was Barbaro and Dynaformer. Everyone remembers the heartbreak of the Preakness when Barbaro took that misstep and was pulled up. The nation wept when his body couldn’t keep up with his spirit, and Barbaro was euthanized from laminitis onset in his feet. Dynaformer wasn’t as much a racer as he was a sire, but everyone that was ever around him commented about his remarkable and feisty spirit. It could be argued that Barbaro inherited that will and spirit which helped him fight for as long as he did right alongside the veterinarians that poured their hearts and souls into saving him. Neither is with us anymore, but they aren’t forgotten as Barbaro’s brothers and other Dynaformer progeny are paving the way for the legends to live on.

Now, we have Dortmund.

Everyone who watched the Triple Crown coverage in 2008 will remember two things: the breakdown of the fantastic filly Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby and Big Brown never even finishing the Belmont after sweeping the first two legs. In a way, that entire trail that year was a giant tragedy. A filly with the potential to do great things was denied a Kentucky Derby victory (and many argue that she ran her heart out to boot) because the winner happened to be on steroids. The steroids were legal at the time in 2008 and were banned not long after because of public backlash to the news that Eight Belles had run clean while Big Brown had not. The winner, who was so close to a Triple Crown, ended up fading into the dust on that final stretch at Belmont Park; angering many that believed that he never should have been allowed to race on steroids in the first place, legal or not.

Everyone remembers Big Brown, but because of the choices and actions of his trainer, they remember him for all the wrong reasons. Big Brown by himself is not guilty of a thing other than doing his job; just as Eight Belles had done. He ran his fastest and he crossed the line first; just as he had been taught. It’s unfair to see the name and sneer because of the bad memories that are mainly centered around Rick Dutrow Jr. and wrongly associate them with Big Brown.

That being said, Big Brown now has a chance to redeem himself, in a sense. His most accomplished, and most promising, son to date is the enormous chestnut, Dortmund. After his performance in the Santa Anita Derby (Gr. I) last weekend, many are already proclaiming him the next Kentucky Derby winner and many people have a hard time seeing anyone beat Dortmund. He cruised through fast fractions so easily that it fooled even Trevor Denman into thinking that they were doing a lackadaisical pace out on the front when they were doing the exact opposite. He then drew away to one of the largest margins of victory in his career, and returned to the winners circle looking like a stunt double had done the running while he was arriving for the picture taking. If that doesn’t scream freak, what does?

At over 17 hands tall and a monstrous 1,300 pounds, this colt is the largest horse to run in the Triple Crown trail in a long time. You definitely won’t be missing him out on the track. His shadow is huge and his competition is firmly covered by it both literally and figuratively; just as Big Brown had towered over his opponents going to the Derby. Could Dortmund be Bob Baffert’s next Silver Charm or Real Quiet? Could he be the horse that one ups both of them and wins the last race in the series that the latter mentioned horses, and others like them, could not for almost 40 years? Could this finally mean redemption for Big Brown?

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