Maverick (adj.): “being independent in thought and action or exhibiting such independence” (American Heritage Dictionary)
Reading the press regarding Big Brown’s not-so-surprising retirement, I had to laugh at this gem from an unnamed Associated Press writer:
“There was nothing little about Big Brown's racing career. From his overpowering victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness to his spectacular flop in the Belmont as he bid for a Triple Crown, Big Brown and his entourage—including his maverick owner and outspoken trainer—simply didn't do subtle.”
I suppose calling Dutrow “outspoken” is merely polite, but Iavarone a “maverick” owner? Last time I looked, “maverick” wasn’t a synonym for being an egotistical, pompous ass who now falsely bemoans having to retire his three-year-old because his negotiated stud deal with Three Chimneys demands it. Then again, the term “maverick” appears to be liberally applied these days.
If, as some postulate, Curlin now bypasses the BC Classic in favor of the dirt Japan Cup, Greg Avioli privately may have a conniption fit, although publically he will blithely claim there is still “tremendous enthusiasm for the Breeders’ Cup.” Maybe he is just that delusional.
Personally, I think Curlin’s connections will choose Japan over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride, and I don’t blame them one bit. Did you notice how, at the end of Monday’s press conference after Curlin’s tremendous 5f workout, Jess Jackson made mention of the five fatalities over the synthetic surface since September 24? “It's a major factor in my mind," Jackson said. "Curlin's health is more important than anything else.” He’s a master of controlling and shaping a situation to look like the good guy (even when he is)—Iavarone should take lessons from him.
The other big retirement on Monday was the three-year-old filly Arc winner Zarkava. Big Brown or Zarkava—who am I going to miss more? The filly wins hands-down. While the Aga Khan feels she is an “invaluable asset” as a broodmare that is by no means guaranteed. I have explored before the relative success of superior race mares as broodmares, but there are plenty of unfulfilled expectations—Regret, Genuine Risk, Winning Colors (who may be turning things around), Sky Beauty, Bayakoa, and Davona Dale, among others. Having her race one more year as a four-year-old could have established her in the pantheon of the old-time greats. Retiring her early simply makes her one more undefeated race horse who flashed brilliance.
Speaking of flashing brilliance, Xtra Heat’s daughter Elusive Heat got a 103 Beyer for her maiden effort on Sunday, the only triple-digit BSF for a two-year-old filly this year. Here's a photo of her at Saratoga earlier this summer, courtesy of Laurie Asseo: