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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

THE ANNALS OF CHAD

Chad Brown
photo: Toni Pricci

A serious question: By the end of his career, hopefully many years from now, will Chad Brown become a legendary G.O.A.T. at bringing turf runners back from long, extended layups?

I know that appears sophomoric, presumptive, and myopic. But, just for the heck of it, let’s use Travers Day 2019 as an example. Six races were carded on turf; Brown entered five. He won them all.

But that’s not entirely the point. First, a look at Dabinett; one of two horses he entered in the third race [Balon Rose] for special-weight maidens, 3 & up. The last time Dabinett raced was Derby day–of 2018.

A layoff of 477 days proved no problem, even if the victory was hard fought. But that scenario requires a modicum of class and a while lot of conditioning. She won by a head-bob, beating her mate with an open margin back to on the others.

But it’s Annals of Time, a deceptively convincing, confident winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer, that’s the story. This “Win and Inner” was the 6 year old’s first run at a mile and a half; the farthest he had been was 1-3/16 miles last out.

But it’s not like Annals of Time was without portfolio, He did win the G1 Hollywood Derby on DEC. 3–2016!

Obviously he went wrong in an NX2 Belmont Park allowances in 2017, serious enough for him to remain on the sidelines 629 days. Parenthetically, he won a Belmont NX1 previously off a 287 day break.

Talent in a racehorse is God-given but it takes human hands to bring out the best of that ability.

Annals of Time finished second in his first start off the most recent long break but exploded in his Sword Dancer prep with a 4-1/2 length score.

Thirty-one days later, his third run off the long layup, Javier Castellano gave him every chance, keeping him in the clear before confidently hand-driving him to the finish, narrowly defeating classy old pro Sadler’s Joy.

For good measure, Brown book-ended the card, taking the opener with Frontier Market and the finale with Magic Star, a special-weights maiden winning on debut at a mile and a sixteenth over more experienced rivals.

And, so, Chad Brown, King of the Layups, has another to join divisional leading Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders’ Cup Turf starting gate, but Brown was quick to give credit where it was due.

“Nick de Meric in Ocala picked him out as a baby and every time he has gone to the sidelines, he’s gone to rehab with him and his team. He sent him back to us, now as a 6-year-old, in fine shape,” Brown explained.

“We finally have had an uninterrupted training schedule and campaign with him. He’s back to his old form when he won the Hollywood Derby. He’s probably better now, so I’m just so grateful to have him back healthy.”

Added Castellano: “I don’t know if I’ve seen a horse that, no matter if the pace is slow or fast, he always finishes really well. I’m very proud of him. Some horses have to have pace in the race but this horse doesn’t need one.”

If one can trust the internal turf fractions–one never can–he finished up the final half-mile in 46.98. As the Millennials say, that’s sick. But no sicker when one considers what this barn can do on grass, given enough time.

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⚠ Before you comment

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20 Responses

  1. John, The man is cheating…..Plain and simple….No trainer can consistently have his horses deliver giant efforts off the bench….It’s alarming otherworldy….He’s obviously engaging in some form of poly pharmacy….He’s using either EPO or some other hemoglobin and platelet- enhancing drugs…. It’s starting to border on criminal……Is it just my horse-player’s paranoia? Could be, but I doubt it…..Enjoy your stuff…Respectfully, Steve Matthews….

  2. Consider how good the horses are that he trains. Crème de la crème stock. Not an expert on this, all I know is that Oscar “Medicine Man” Barrera was pulling otherworldly miracles back in the day. Not with Chad Brown monsters but regular claimers. I don’t think horses this good would be tinkered with. Too much to lose. Again, not up to speed on the subject.

    1. Mal, see that’s the thing. On the West Coast, Bob Baffert gets the best stock; in the East, that power base has shifted from Todd Pletcher to Chad Brown. Everything else being equal, the best horses generally will win more than the average bear…

  3. Hey Steve, good to hear…

    Everyone is aware of the scourge of the “super-trainer” and many have ungodly win percentages, not just Chad Brown. Taking an edge is not right but remains the nature of the game at all levels.

    It is why independent testing conducted by an outside agency needs to be mandated and out-of-competition tests done at random and to a much larger degree. Until then, nothing will change.

    But, even if your suspicions–and everyone else’s–were grounded in fact–all must admit that Brown’s horses always look the part. He’s a great horseman, IMO. The lesson here may be to never underestimate a Cornell education.

    Please say hey to Wally, and thanks for checking in…

    1. Will do, John. Always a pleasure to share opinions with you…..Glad all is well…..PS: I’m still carrying the torch U lit at Newsday…..Steve…, Oh, on a more somber note, don’t know if UR aware Bobby P passed about 2 years ago…..Hopefully him and Cary are laughing up a storm in Horseplayer Heaven….

      1. Hey Susan, also good to hear… Allow me to say to readers who may not know you that you’re an excellent horsewoman–Susan and I worked together, each of us having a cup of coffee at Capital District OTB in NY–and that you walk your talk when it comes to finding retired horses a good home and a second career.

        I have spoken with several trainers on the subject on staff compensation. Chad Brown was not the only one. Several years ago, Todd Pletcher had the same issue paying fines re “overtime” compensation.

        Like many other provisions and guidelines needing revision in Washington, someone needs to look into the process of equitable pay scale for backstretch workers.

        Angel Penna Jr. game me and example recently how the laws governing overtime pay are unrealistic. Penna could not afford to keep his night watchman because there came a point where that worker was making more money than his assistant trainer. How does that make sense?

        As for Chad, I never heard about high mortality rates associated with his barn, and I think the number of horses that are brought back successfully off long layups speak to his horsemanship skills. I admit that I may be naive on this issue. I know, unlike a Hall of Famer and future Hall of Famer, I’ve not heard of a single case of sudden equine death syndrome. Then again, true transparency does not exist.

        Re taking an edge: I believe that to some extent they all do; some are better at it than others. I do not condone this, obviously, just trying to keep it real. That said, on balance, I think race horses are treated better than many people in this country.

        1. Whether Chad … or any other Trainer … Having worked as an licensed exercise rider for many years for top trainers alongside people who have little more to wake up for than the horses that they rubb on, prep, and got walk … it is absolutely inexcusable to me to disregard what is due them. Grooms put in long hours, heart and soul into helping achieve a win for each and every trainer. If staff was due overtime, these supposedly so smart trainers aught to have the wherewithal to figure that out before the feds have to mandate it.

  4. With all due respect John… Really hard to get excited about Chad Brown … I knew him when he was an assistant for Bobby Frankel who trained racehorses for me. Brown has had a lot of carnage on the track, won’t even give lip service to no race day meds … and according to the BloodHorse, back in May, Brown agreed to pay more than $1.6 million in back pay, damages and fines after a federal investigation found he had violated multiple provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the rules of the H-2B visa program for foreign workers. It takes a hell of a lot of people to make a win and to overlook the contributions of boots-on-the-ground Stable staff is near unforgivable. The federal investigation covered Brown’s violations that occurred between December 2013 and August 2017 at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and other locations. IMHO, G.O.A.T at anything should include integrity in everything.

    1. Very interesting Susan…..Not taking care of your people is despicable……Well written…..Respectfully, Steve Matthews

  5. Steve, sorry to hear about Bobby P. Oddly, last time I saw hi was in an elevator in Manhattan where NYC-OTB had offices. Too bad; young man.

    And if there is a Horseplayer Heaven, it would have become quite a raucous place if he and Cary were ever to find each other. Not that I think Horseplayer Heaven would be overcrowded…

  6. How about Horseplayer Purgatory? Speaking of Purgatory, try this one on: There was (is) a pretty big ski area in Colorado which was called Purgatory. Then, the PC Police stepped in and the name was changed. They knew that a lot of their fan base came from the Bible Belt in Texas and there was pushback on the name. Same thing as at University of North Dakota, The Fighting Sioux. Gone. Purgatory name: Gone. St. John’s Redmen: Gone. The list is long. But John, you are more than correct in your belief that Horseplayer Heaven would have plenty of vacancies. For those of us living in the past, please reference some of the goldie oldies like Forego, Slew (all-time fave), Cigar, et al. These were what I like to refer to as Monsters, ha, ha.

  7. John, I am not worried because the Tomahawk Chop is alive and well in Hotlanta. The Washington Redskins are still the Redskins and your Seminoles are ranked 45th nationally which is pretty good. Tough conference. As for The Fighting Sioux, they were fighters, just ask George Armstrong Custer. I read that after the battle of The Little Big Horn (more like a cake walk, Alice) the Indian Squaws came in and did a number on the corpses of the US Cavalry troops. Must be some sort of ritual thing. Went there as a kid, pretty cool to see. There was a Twilight Zone episode on the subject, also cool. Loved that show, loved Rod Serling. At HRI all subject matter fare game, right? Take care.

  8. Yes, we often go off topic here at HRI. Actually, sports and culture are themes worth exploring, During the network TV off season, checked out a show I never bothered watching that has had six seasons called “Longmire.” The juxtaposition of the modern world of law enforcement as played out in Absaroka County Montana makes interesting fare. [but it’s FAIR game, Mal].

    Anyway, to get back on-point off-topic–see what I did there?–as a result of a key storyline I’M learning much about Native American culture, specifically the Cheyenne Nation and life on “the res.”

    (If anyone’s interested, I took a three-hour break, went to the noon showing of “Blinded By the Light,” the story of a Pakistani family that moved to Great Britain to improve the lives and, more specifically, a coming-of-age piece inspired by the lyric of Bruce Springsteen).

    I laughed, I cried, I sang (theater was empty), and I celebrated. The late Jim Valvano would have called that a full day. I’m offering a money back guarantee , payable in person on demand. Look for me Saturday’s at Gulfstream Park if you’re ever in the neighborhood. Usually can find me in the paddock for the feature race.

    Back to the game. Got my PPs for tomorrow at the Spa! No more frivolity, for now…

  9. Film review, nice. As soon as I can, with my busy schedule (just kidding, Alice), I will search for the TV show. Saw a Sopranos 20th reuninon interview on YouTube.Com. Long Island’s own Edie Falco a favorite, along with the rest of the cast. Saw Corrado (Dominic Chianese) on Arthur Ave a few years ago. It was Columbus Day and the parade organizers would not allow any Sopranos character actors in the event. Then Mayor Mike Bloomberg objected and decided to have a meal with some of the cast up in the Bronx. Big crowd waiting to see the stars, myself included. Uncle June was there but not too many others. Hard to believe the show ran so long ago. The prequel movie out this fall, I think. Interviewer asked if any of the stars from HBO show were in the movie. All said no, they were too old. I guess it takes place in Newark in the 1950’s. Love Edie Falco!

  10. That is what Steve Crist’s mom did. Famous. I will attempt to get back on course (racecourse, Alice) although, as stated earlier, I am spinning wheels in the ping pong balls zone (lottery) after years knocking my head against the wall with ponies. Some people can do it, more disciplined, but I was playing everything from Balmoral Harness to Ft. Erie Thoroughbreds, the whole enchilada. A real smorgasbord thanks to simulcasting. Used to be Roosevelt, Yonkers, Big A, Belmont. Would leave Big A to the sound of someone shouting, “trotter car!” A lifetime ago, but fun just the same. Rode the #4 train one night home from Yonkers. It was kind of late and the lights were shining brightly at the old Yankee Stadium (not baseball season). Mohammed Ali fight vs Ken Norton was happening. Ali won in a close decision.

    1. Mal, How about this bit of trivia…..One of the guys shouting “trotter car” outside Big A in the 1970s was Alex Miteff, who fought Ali (Cassius Clay then) in 1961…….Amazing stuff….. Steve Matthews…..

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