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24 May 2008

IEAH & Team Big Brown Donating Part Of Purse To Injured Police Officer On Long Island

From NYRA Press Office

The owners of Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown Friday announced they would donate a portion of the colt’s earnings from the $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 7 to help a establish a scholarship fund for the young son of a Nassau County police officer who was critically injured in the line of duty.

On May 18, a drunken driver with a suspended license slammed into Kenneth Baribault’s police car during a traffic stop the Long Island Expressway. Baribault had pulled over a sport utility vehicle on suspicion of drunken driving when the driver of a silver Mercedes, whom police said was drunk, plowed into the back of the police cruiser,. The impact pushed the police car into the SUV and lifted it six feet off the ground, according to witnesses.

Baribault remains in a coma at Nassau County Medical Center, having undergone surgery to relieve swelling to his brain.

In a news conference at Belmont Park, IEAH Stable owners Michael Iavarone and Richard Schiavo, both of Long Island, pledged to donate a substantial portion of whatever Big Brown earns in the final leg of racing’s Triple Crown toward college expenses for Baribault’s six-year-old son, Chris.

“In time like this it is imperative we come together,” said Iavarone. “We want to stand up and make something good happen. It’s not just a financial thing – we want to be there for the family.”

Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi and Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey, both of whom spoke in front of the statue of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat in Belmont Park’s paddock, praised the owners for their generosity.

“We are all pulling for Big Brown in the Belmont here on Long Island, but we are also pulling for Big Blue -- Kenny Baribault,” said Suozzi. “This means the family has one less thing to worry about as he recovers. It’s one less burden in his family’s life.”

Big Brown, an impressive winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is the big favorite to win the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978. He will be ridden in the race by Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who suffered a skull fracture in 1990 when he was kicked in the head by a trailing horse following a spill.

“This is very close to home,” said Desormeaux. “I was five seconds away from being in an induced coma when I was trampled by a horse. My prayers are with the family.”

Big Brown’s trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., said the officer’s family has a standing invitation to come visit Big Brown in his barn at Belmont Park.

“No one has asked that I know of, but they are welcome,” he said.

Big Brown went to the track at 5:30 a.m. Friday and galloped for a mile and a half, said his regular exercise rider, Michelle Nevin.

“He went for a walk through the paddock – it’s beautiful day for horses,” she said.

The colt, undefeated in his first five races, is scheduled to breeze a week from Saturday, weather permitting.

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