When we read this morning that Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown wouldn’t be receiving his monthly dose of Winstrol, an anabolic steroid, before tomorrow’s race, our first reaction was mild confusion. Aren’t steroids, like, illegal? And isn’t Winstrol, the drug Ben Johnson famously tested positive for at the 1988 Olympics, like, the most illegal of them all? Not in horse racing, it seems. As a Times editorial pointed out this week, horse-steroid use is legal in nearly 30 states, including all three that host Triple Crown races. (New York is moving to impose restrictions, according to the Times.) Apparently steroid use is pretty commonplace in horse racing, which more or less shields Big Brown from any scrutiny. He’d probably explain it away by saying, “Everyone’s doin’ it!” You know, if he weren’t a horse.
To us, though, this temporary break from juicing sounds like just another excuse in case he fails to win the Belmont tomorrow. (Horses are always making excuses for themselves. They’re like teenagers, except with uncomfortably large genitalia.) First Big Brown landed post position No. 1, instead of an outside start like he’d have preferred. Then he goes off steroids. And today also came word that if he wins, he won’t be greeted by scantily clad Hooters girls as had originally been planned. Now even his jockey has an excuse to underperform. —Joe DeLessio