Big Brown, who competed in the first two Triple Crown races after receiving a steroid injection, will attempt to run in the Belmont Stakes without his monthly dose, according to a report in The New York Times.
The thoroughbred's trainer, Rick Dutrow, told The Times that Big Brown has not received stanozolol -- an anabolic steroid more commonly known as Winstrol -- since April 15.
"The horse had been doing so good, and is doing so good, I don't want to screw things up," Dutrow said, according to the report. "I haven't changed any routine."
Big Brown, who drew the inside post for the Belmont, is attempting to become only the 12th Triple Crown winner in history, and the first since Affirmed in 1979.
Out of the 38 states in which horse racing takes place, Winstrol is legal in 28, including Kentucky and Maryland, where the Kentucky Derby and Preakness are run.
In early May, Dutrow acknowledged in the New York Daily News that he gives every horse in his stable an injection of Winstrol on the 15th of each month, but not if the horse was not in training.
According to The Times, before February, Big Brown missed 90 days of training because of a wall separation in his front hooves.
When he returned to the track, he got an injection of Winstrol, and once each in March and April.
Criticism arose following Dutrow's revelation that Big Brown had received steroids, which can help horses recover after tough workouts, as well as give them a lift if they are not eating well or appear listless. The revelation also brought into question the validity of Big Brown's achievements in winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
There appears to be a difference in opinion as to what the seven-week absence of steroids means for Big Brown.
New York University anti-doping expert
Gary Wadler told the Times that it could be argued Big Brown, after such a gap, would be running steroid-free. "The impact on the race, if any, would be minimal," Wadler said, according to The Times.
According to The Times, Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, agreed with that assessment. But Charles E. Yesalis, a professor of sports science at Penn State, said the steroids that Big Brown already has received have already made their mark.
"These are training drugs -- you don't need them in your body for competition; the effect has already taken place," Arthur told The Times. "It's really immaterial that he is not doing it now."
The more immediate concern has been Big Brown's left front foot, which has a crack that has been repaired with stainless steel sutures. Big Brown has been able to gallop while the hoof is healing, and on Friday, he will receive an acrylic and fiberglass patch that will remain for the Belmont Stakes.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.