LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- No one knows Big Brown better than Michelle Nevin.
The exercise rider for the unbeaten Kentucky Derby favorite has ridden the big bay colt more than 100 times, and she remains awed by his graceful stride and powerful running style.
"The horse just floats over the ground," Nevin said in her Irish brogue following Big Brown's final workout before Saturday's Derby. "You don't feel like you're going that fast at all. He just lengthens his stride. It's very smooth. It's very comfortable. He's like a powerhouse underneath you."
Big Brown is all that, and more.
The colt with three victories by a combined 29 lengths has created quite a backstretch buzz at Churchill Downs.
Dozens of photographers followed Big Brown to the track for Thursday morning's tuneup. Fans gawked at the striking colt, with one hollering, "There goes the Derby winner."
After breezing three furlongs in 35.40 seconds, Big Brown barely worked up a sweat and walked back to the barn with a bounce in his step.
Asked if she was concerned about any of the 19 other horses in the field, Nevin smiled.
"Not after that," she said.
Big Brown has overcome tender front feet to take all involved on quite a ride. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. is telling everyone he has the best horse and plans to bet as much money as he can on Big Brown to win. Jockey Kent Desormeaux is as confident of victory as Dutrow. And IEAH Stables was so taken with the colt after his first victory, it paid a reported $3 million to own a 75 percent share.
The horse is named for UPS, a client of minority owner Paul Pompa Jr., and that has generated additional interest. During Dutrow's news conference, a UPS man dressed head-to-toe in brown wheeled up a bale of hay and made a mock presentation. The shipping label read: "To Big Brown, Kentucky Derby winner's circle."
Big Brown will have to deliver from the outside No. 20 post, where only one other Derby winner started from (Clyde Van Dusen in 1929). Also, Big Brown will attempt to become the first Derby winner with just three previous starts since the filly Regret in 1915.
No one seems concerned.
"We're not worried," Dutrow said. "It's all good, babe.
"His talent and his ability got us here, not my training technique."