Dutrow believes Radiohead, a son of Johannesburg, has Triple Crown-level talent but needs to demonstrate his stamina. Jockey Edgar Prado wound up riding Radiohead to his Feb. 27 win only after Julien Leparoux declined Dutrow's invitation and rode stablemate Homeboykris instead.
"Edgar doesn't think Radiohead will have a problem going farther and neither do his exercise riders,'' Dutrow said. "I would like to see him finish no worse than third. If he gets a little tired I understand.''
Radiohead's performance will indicate whether he's Kentucky Derby-worthy.
"Right now he's interesting,'' Dutrow said. "How far can he go and how well can he take things that come up? We would have six weeks to train him and map out a plan for the Kentucky Derby.''
Iavarone would love to see the "eerie similarities'' to Big Brown continue, except for that bizarre ending at Belmont. Big Brown is now a stud horse at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, earning a $55,000 fee. He will travel to the Vinery, a breeding farm in Australia, this summer. "He's got the life we all want to live,'' Iavarone said.
Big Brown is one of the success stories of IEAH, which Iavarone estimates has invested more than $100 million in horses since 2003.
"We took advantage of the weakness in the thoroughbred economy and bought some good horses at good prices,'' he said. "We're looking to win on big days.''
Iavarone, partial to Versace sunglasses, and the plain-speaking Dutrow have a combustible relationship.
"Like any dysfunctional family we have our ups and downs,'' Iavarone said. "We coexist. Every horse Rick puts on the racetrack performs well. He's the best horseman I've ever been around.''
Dutrow sums up the partnership this way: "Like always, I'd rather work with the horses.''
Radiohead fills both men with anticipation. But they know strange things can happen, as was the case with Big Brown, the favorite who was pulled up at Belmont. Was it the hoof crack that bothered him? Or a loose shoe? Desormeaux's strategy? It's an enduring question mark in racing.
"I'll never know, but I don't think the shoe had anything to do with it,'' Dutrow said. "Maybe a combination of things. It was a really hot day. Horse and rider is a place you could start. I still don't know what Kent did. My daughter could have ridden him better going into the first turn. But I haven't watched a re-run. I'm done with that.''
Iavarone doesn't like to make excuses.
"He lost,'' Iavarone said. "Three races in five weeks? Kent doing the right thing or the wrong thing? I'm not going to judge. It will be a mystery forever.''