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.