Big Brown injures hoof

Times Staff Writer

Big Brown’s Triple Crown run has hit a snag, although it’s deemed a small one at this time.

It was learned Sunday that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has a slight crack on the inside of his left front hoof. He has already missed two days of training and will miss at least several more while being treated by specialist Ian MacKinlay for what is commonly referred to as a “quarter crack,” which is a vertical crack in the hoof wall. This crack is five-eighths of an inch long.

“We’re all concerned because there’s a big race coming up,” trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “But Ian has us pretty well relaxed. He’s telling me it’s nothing and he’ll be fine in a few days.”


Unlike the two-week turnaround between the Derby and the Preakness, there’s a three-week break before the Belmont. The third leg of the Triple Crown will be run June 7.

“If it was two weeks we would be nervous, but this way I’m as cool as we can be,” Dutrow said. “It’s bad that this happened, but it’s good that it happened at this time.”

Mike Iavarone, Big Brown’s majority owner, told the horse racing network TVG that this injury is different from the ones that sidelined him for 45 days late last year and another 45 early this year.

MacKinlay said the earlier injuries were abscesses, first in his left hoof, then the right, and they caused wall separations. MacKinlay said they were mistakenly referred to as quarter cracks.

Dutrow said Big Brown could feasibly be back training by Thursday.

MacKinlay, who is treating Big Brown with a combination of iodine and alcohol, has repaired more severe injuries. He helped Touch Gold fight off a leg injury from the 1997 Preakness and go on to win the Belmont and spoil Silver Charm’s Triple Crown try.


Describing this as a much simpler task, MacKinlay said, “This is a very, very minor crack. We’ll put a set of wires in, stitch it up and then patch it.”

Said Dutrow: “The horse is in great shape. He doesn’t know anything is wrong with him. When you touch it and put pressure on it, he’s going to give. But the worst possible thing that could happen is he doesn’t make the race, and that will only hurt human beings.”

Meanwhile in Southern California, Ian Pearse, the Australian synthetic track expert who has been working closely with Santa Anita, will oversee more tests on the track’s drainage capabilities this week, said Ron Charles, Santa Anita’s president.

“After the testing is completed, we will be making a final decision on what to do,” Charles said.