Friday, December 5, 2014

New York horseman Chad Brown enjoying career year

Friday, December 5, 2014


Contact: Sean Morris


New York horseman Chad Brown enjoying career year


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - With less than a month remaining in 2014, trainer Chad Brown is well on his way to the most successful year in his young career, continuing a rapid ascent to training's elite that began in 2007.


The Mechanicville, N.Y. native, who went out on his own eight years ago, currently sits in second in the nation, behind six-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, with earnings of $15,183,602 - a career-best mark - and his 143 wins put him in 15th-place among North American trainers. To make the numbers more impressive, Brown's gaudy totals aren't merely a product of volume. To date, the trainer has saddled 549 horses - good for a win rate of 26 percent.


Brown, a protégé of the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, showed promise at the onset of his training career. In his first full year as a trainer, he won 31 of 155 races worth in excess of $1.5 million, and also captured his first Breeders' Cup race, which came with Maram in the 2008 Juvenile Fillies Turf.


Since 2007, when Brown saddled his first horse, he has improved his win total and earnings each subsequent year, and is poised to do the same in 2014 after finishing 2013 with 148 wins. He is quick, however, to credit his team for the barn's success.


"I think when you look at the overall body of work - in all relevant categories - this is our best year," said Brown. "My staff and I are always learning; you learn from your mistakes. I'm lucky to have so many well-trained, dedicated employees that do most of the work."


Among the 143 wins Brown has compiled so far this year, seven have come in Grade 1 races, including three at Belmont Park: the $1 million Knob Creek Manhattan (Real Solution), the inaugural $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (Minorette), and the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (Stephanie's Kitten).


The highlight of Brown's year, however, came at the Breeders' Cup World Championships on October 31 and November 1 at Santa Anita Park. Over the course of the two-day event, Brown saddled three winners - punctuated by a 1-2 finish in the Grade 1, $2 million Filly & Mare Turf with Dayatthespa and Stephanie's Kitten - and became only the third trainer in history to accomplish the feat.


"It was an unbelievable weekend," said Brown, who also sent out Lady Eli (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Bobby's Kitten (Turf Sprint) to victory at the Breeders' Cup. "I was so happy for my clients and my staff. I'm the one down in the winner's circle getting the trophies and doing the interviews, but I have so many hard-working people under me who don't get credit."


The magnanimous Brown is always quick to point out the role his staff plays, but there are a number of other factors that can be attributed to the Cornell graduate's ongoing success. Perhaps most important is his willingness to adapt to a game that is constantly evolving - a lesson imparted to him by Frankel.


"I think there are a lot of things that change in horse racing over time," said Brown. "One thing my mentor, Bobby Frankel, would tell me would be that you have to be flexible. Things change, and you can't always train the same way. He'd say, 'If I trained the same way I did in the 70's, I'd never win.' We have a basic system that we like to stick to, but within that we have some flexibility."


Part of that flexibility involves shipping horses out of town when the situation warrants - something Brown did to great effect in 2014. At one point during the year, the trainer went 14 for 15 at Parx Racing, mostly with horses he felt could reap long-term benefits from racing there.


The ability to properly spot his horses continues to be paramount to Brown's success, as it was when he was just starting out, but there has also been a noticeable upgrade in the quality of his stock over the past few years.


"The quality of the horses was there, once again, as it was last year," said Brown. "We didn't carry any more horses in 2014 than we did in 2013; it's been the same amount of horses, the production has just increased. The overall quality has improved a bit, and it continues to improve. That's really the support of my clients; I've got the right group of owners, and they're sending me the right type of horses."


In addition to pleasing his current group of owners, Brown also understands the importance of attracting new owners, and has proven to be quite adept at it. In 2014, the trainer welcomed a trio of prestigious owners to his list of clientele, including Calumet Farm, Shadwell Stable, and European juggernaut Coolmore, which has given a boost to his already distinguished ownership band, comprised of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, William Klaravich, Martin Schwartz and Michael Dubb, to name a few.


"We get up and go to work every day hoping that somewhere, someone important in this game is going to see [us], appreciate what we do, and give us a chance," said Brown. "Thankfully, there have been some really important owners that have come forward and are giving us a chance. I have a mix of some really loyal clients that have been with me for years, and continue to support me, and we've picked up some new clients this year that we're excited about, as well."


If Minorette is any indication, Brown is making the most of this opportunity. The Coolmore-owned filly was sent to Brown for her 3-year-old campaign after underachieving in Ireland as a juvenile. The daughter of Smart Strike, who had only a maiden win to her credit at the start of 2014, was transformed into a Grade 1 winner by Brown, when she took the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks on July 5 in her third North American start.


While he has made his mark with turf horses, like Minorette, more dirt horses could soon be on the way for Brown, who has masterfully orchestrated the very lucrative career of the New York-bred Zivo, which culminated in a three-length triumph in this year's Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on dirt.


Zivo, a son of obscure sire True Direction, has earned more than $1 million in his career, due in large part to the careful and methodical management of Brown. The bay horse was allowed to gradually progress through his conditions and fully develop as a racehorse before tackling graded stakes competition, which paid immediate dividends in his graded stakes debut, the Suburban - his 15th career start.


Brown's reputation as a dirt trainer received another boost on Cigar Mile Day at Aqueduct Racetrack, when he sent out Leave the Light On to victory in the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds. By sprint influence Horse Greeley, Leave the Light On took the 1 1/8-mile Remsen by a half-length, and could make his presence felt on the 2015 Derby Trail with continued progress.


Despite his 2014 success - with horses like Leave the Light On, Zivo, Minorette and a host of others - Brown isn't satisfied. Like all North American trainers, he covets winning a Triple Crown race, and it may not be long before he does. Given the trajectory of his career, it isn't hard to imagine the possibility he checks off another major milestone in 2015.



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