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Big Brown back on pace for toughest sports achievement

When you think about it, there's no more demanding and unforgiving event in sports than trying to capture the Triple Crown.

Big Brown (left), winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, has his connections and race fans reassured a little today after a brisk, uneventful workout at Belmont yesterday. The powerful bay has been diagnosed with a small crack in his left front hoof and while the early call was that it was a minor issue that shouldn't keep him out of the Belmont Stakes on June 7, well, the recent history of great horses has you holding your breath.

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But the thing about the Triple Crown is that everything has to go perfectly for a horse to make it happen. Obviously, the horse has to be a great one. Then, every race has to come off without mishap. The horse has to get a good ride from the jockey. The horse has to be physically ready on race day; any injury, even a small one, and it's an opportunity lost forever. Which brings us to the final circumstance that makes winning the Triple Crown so tough. A horse gets just one opportunity in a career.

John Elway got 16 seasons to win a Super Bowl and finally won his first in his 15th year. If Tiger Woods doesn't win the grand slam one year, he has the next. But Big Brown gets just this one shot -- and it all has to go just perfect.

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Photo:  Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun


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