NEW YORK -- His first Triple Crown bid ended in defeat by a nose. This one was over way before Big Brown closed on the finish line.
Ten years apart, the pair of crushing finishes stung jockey Kent Desormeaux.
"I think I'm numb, really," he said. "A little lost. Just feeling no emotion whatsoever. Blank."
Desormeaux added a second Belmont Stakes heartbreaker to his Hall of Fame career. A decade after losing aboard Real Quiet, Desormeaux failed in his shot at redemption Saturday and lost the Belmont aboard Big Brown.
No Triple Crown. No shot. Worst of all, nothing left in his spectacular horse.
Desormeaux and Big Brown failed in their bid to become horse racing's 12th Triple Crown winner and finished dead last.
"I had no horse. He was empty," Desormeaux said. "I couldn't be fifth. We all knew that something was wrong."
Dr. Larry Bramlage said the bay colt was healthy. That was about the only good news for Desormeaux, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. and the owners of the colt after he finished way behind winner Da' Tara, the longest shot on the board at 38-1.
Desormeaux hopped off Big Brown and quickly started looking for Dutrow.
"Where's Dutrow? Where's Dutrow?"
The two didn't immediately find each other on the track.
They'll be looking even longer for answers on what went wrong.
"This horse was in no way, shape or form lame or sore," Desormeaux said. "But there's something amiss, probably just tired. In the horse's best interest, let's get him back to the barn and recharge his batteries."
Desormeaux desperately hoped he could erase 10 years of bad memories with a Triple Crown victory. He lost a Triple try in 1998, when Real Quiet was nosed out at the wire.
"This one would have been a life-changing experience if I won," he said.
Desormeaux called Big Brown the best horse he had ever ridden, even better than Real Quiet.
He said there was no comparison between the horses in the two races.
"Any time I could be less than a length, I think there's absolutely something I could have done different, and that one just ate me up," Desormeaux said. "This will never eat me up."
This time, Big Brown wore down at the five-eighths pole -- or, about 100 yards before the final turn. The bay colt's disappointing performance followed convincing victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
"If Big Brown was himself, he would have been tough to beat," said Da' Tara's trainer, Nick Zito.
A dejected Desormeaux expressed regret this week at the way he handled Real Quiet. He asked the colt for too much of an explosion at the top of the stretch and Real Quiet had nothing left for the final quarter mile.
Different decade, same result.
"There's no popped tires," Desormeaux said of Big Brown. "He's just out of gas."
If Big Brown isn't retired, Desormeaux plans to ride him at the Travers and then the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in October. It seems hard to envision a circumstance after this Belmont flop where Big Brown will race again.