The 29-year-old Brown, a native of nearby Mechanicville, won the first race of the 140th Saratoga season last Wednesday with Star Player. Two days later, in his third start of the meet, Brown won with Midtown Bullet.
“I’m not surprised that we are winning races; I am surprised that it is happening this fast,” said Brown. “We had planned all spring to run horses at Saratoga. Everything has fallen into place. You also need a little bit of luck, and we’ve had that.”
Along with building his stable, the 29-year-old Brown is also building a family. He and his wife, Terrill, granddaughter of retired trainer Bill “Red” Terrill, are expecting their first child – a daughter – on August 18.
Brown said he became interested in horse racing as a teenager when his parents, Patty and Jerry, used to picnic in the backyard of Saratoga Race Course, but his first job around horses came with standardbreds, grooming trotters and pacers for Paul Kelly at Saratoga Raceway.
“We traveled and raced all over – Yonkers, the Meadowlands, Vernon Downs, and the fairs,” Brown said. “I learned a lot about horses, how to take care of them, and do things the right way. He’s an excellent horseman.”
Brown made the jump to thoroughbreds in a unique fashion – by emailing future Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. .
“When Chad was about 16, he wrote an e-mail to introduce himself and that he would like to work for me during the Saratoga meet,” McGaughey said. “It was an articulate e-mail for someone of that age.”
Brown, who earned a degree in animal science from Cornell University, worked around some of McGaughey’s top horses, including Grade 1 Acorn winner Finder’s Fee and multiple graded stakes winner Country Hideaway, and also had the opportunity to experience a Saratoga stakes victory with McGaughey when Serra Lake won the Grade 1 Go for Wand in 2001.
“Shug was very good to me,” Brown said. “He introduced me to more people and he gave me the opportunity to work with some of these expensive horses. I worked with Finder’s Fee and I loved her a lot.”
McGaughey believes Brown can make it on his own with the right horses.
“Chad deserves to win,” McGaughey said. “He has worked hard and paid his dues. I think he will be fine as long as he stays within a circuit where he can win races and move up from there. He’s got a good background. I know that the Gary and Mary West are very high on him. As long as he can get some decent young horses that he can develop and some other ready-made older horses, I think he’ll get some people looking at him.”
Brown’s education continued when he landed a job with another Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel, who hired Brown as a foreman at Hollywood Park, home of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, 2005 Turf Female champion Intercontinental and 2005 Turf Male champion Leroidesanimeaux as well Jim Dandy, Travers and Whitney winner Medaglia d’Oro and Belmont winner Empire Maker.
“I was looking for an assistant’s job, but I was lucky to get that job,” Brown said. “Bobby moved me to Hollywood Park to learn his system. Going down the feed line, I had to pinch myself because there were these outstanding horses. It was unbelievable.”
The last horse Brown saddled for Frankel was Ginger Punch in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last October at Monmouth Park, the day before he went out on his own. A month later, he won his first race with Dual Jewels, a vastly different experience.
“It was tough for the first month or two,” he said. “When I left, I had 10 horses and they obviously weren’t the top horses I had been working with. It was definitely tough to walk away from saddling stakes and Breeders’ Cup horses. I had been used to getting a call from Bobby every morning.”
Like McGaughey, Frankel is proud of his former employee.
“It’s good to know that someone who had worked for you is doing good on his own,” he said. “He works hard and he’s a smart kid. He wants to be successful.”
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Brown’s mentor, McGaughey, will send Grade 3 Doubledogdare stakes winner Carriage Trail, owned by Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stables, against 10 other fillies and mares in Wednesday’s $80,000-added De La Rose Stakes at a mile on the Inner Turf Course.
Also on Wednesday, older New York-bred fillies and mares will compete in the $80,000-added Fleet Indian. Talking Treasure, Ice Cool Lady, and Precise Lady – all whom won a New York-bred stakes race here at Saratoga last year – highlight a field of seven.