Big Brown < Big Red

A few baseball friends who are aware of my background in thoroughbred horse racing have asked me questions about Big Brown’s place in history.   

Seeing this horse being hyped as potentially one of the greatest horses of all time  I am compelled to point some facts about the horse known in racing circles as “Big Red”:  


Bottom line:  If Big Brown would have been born in 1970 instead of 2005, he’d be a very minor footnote not just in horse racing history, but among the colts in his crop.

Big Brown’s mile and a quarter time in the Kentucky Derby (2:01.8) would have resulted in a 12 length beating at the hands of the great Secretariat (1:59.2) who still holds the Derby record — by a full second — 35 years after he set it. 

He ran each quarter of a mile faster than the one before.   This is simply unheard of in horse racing.

Secretariat’s 35 year old World Record at a mile and a half, set in the 1973 Belmont Stakes has never been broken.    He broke the previous World Record at that distance by two seconds.  The record he broke is still the second fastest mile and half ever run on dirt, anywhere in the world.   Put differently, the second fastest mile and a half ever run would have been 10 lengths behind Secretariat’s World Record.

He also destroyed the track record in the Preakness.

Secretariat also set a World Record at a mile and an eighth.

Secretariat’s Beyer Speed Figure in the Belmont was 139.

The great Cigar never topped 121.

Big Brown’s best so far is 109.   He posted a flat 100 in the Preakness.

Sports Analogies:

Secretariat would be like a hitter who routinely smashed 600 foot homers;   a long jumper who popped a 35 footer;  a sprinter who ran 100 meters in 8 seconds;  a golfer who shot four rounds of  60….

In all four majors….

In one year. 

In what is universally regarded as the weakest crop of three year olds in decades,  what you are seeing from Big Brown is the equivalent of watching a really good hitter — say, Milton Bradley — spending two months in the Texas League.

Big Brown is a good horse beating bad horses in a down year.

Big Red — as he was known — was the greatest of all time.






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