Champion thoroughbred "Big Brown" is a strong contender to become the first horse in 30 years to win U.S. horse racing's Triple Crown on Saturday when he runs in the Belmont Stakes in New York.  Big Brown already has won the first two "jewels" in the trio of races, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.  As VOA's Teresa Sullivan reports, the outcome of Saturday's Belmont Stakes will determine if the heavily-favored three-year-old colt will become an equine racing legend.

Odds-on favorite "Big Brown" has drawn the number-one post for Saturday's Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York.  

A victory would make him only the 12th horse overall, and the first horse since "Affirmed" in 1978, to win the Triple Crown.

A loss would make him the 11th horse since 1979 to fail in completing a Triple Crown championship at Belmont.

Big Brown has won all five of his career starts by a combined 39 lengths.  Oddsmakers list him at overwhelming two-to-five odds in a field of ten for the 2,400-meter race.

Big Brown jockey Kent Desormeaux says he has a game plan for the Belmont.

"I am going to let him break in and see what everybody else is doing, and if I am riding with some peers that want to be aggressive then we will cross that bridge when we get to it," he said.  "But quite honestly, the faster we go, then probably best chance they have is being second."

Free from injury at both the Derby and Preakness, Big Brown has since developed a 1.59 centimeter vertical split, a so-called "quarter crack," on the inside of his front left hoof. 

Veterinarian hoof specialist, Ian McKinley says the bay colt's current quarter crack, a common injury, will be patched with a set of wires and mesh.
Just like human athletes, Big Brown wears special footwear.  He has glue-on horseshoes to protect his hooves on race day.

His trainer Rick Dutrow, says he believes Big Brown knows he is on the verge of something great.

"I cannot imagine anything could be any better with the horse," he said.  "He was awful rough this morning around the barn, just walking.  I have never seen him like that.  So he knows something is coming. He knows it is soon.  I just could not be happier with the horse."

Challenging Big Brown Saturday is a field that includes the Japanese-bred colt "Casino Drive," who is listed at seven-to-two odds, and "Denis of Cork" who is third favorite at 12-to-one odds.

But Dutrow is not worried about the competition or the quarter crack. The trainer says Big Brown is, by far, the best horse in the race.

The conjecture ends Saturday.