Trainer Chad Brown had what he called the highlight of his career this year when he won his first Saratoga training title, dethroning archrival Todd Pletcher.
Brown broke Pletcher’s record of 38 winners, outpointing the multiple defending titlist’s 2016 total of 31.
He also finished well ahead in money won, with $ 4.8 million, and was the top stakes-winning trainer at the meeting with 12.
Heading into Thursday’s action Brown stood second on the season in both purses earned ($ 9.7 million) and stakes won (42), with both categories led by Pletcher, and was tied for eighth in races won with 134.
And while Brown has yet to win a stakes higher than Grade 3 at Woodbine, that success coming with Native Bombshell in the 2014 Ontario Fashion, it is not for lack of trying.
Brown sent out the runners-up in the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Grade 1 Canadian International in Hyper and Big Blue Kitten, respectively, and saddled Bobby’s Kitten for a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in the latter season.
Dream Peace and Rosalind both finished third for Brown in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, in the 2012 and 2015 editions.
The trainer also fielded second-place finishers Dayatthespa, in the 2011 then Grade 3 Natalma, and Watsdachances in last year’s Grade 2 Dance Smartly.
On Saturday, Brown will be invading Woodbine in force with Big Blue Kitten and Wake Forest entered for the Grade 1 Northern Dancer at 1 ½ miles on the turf; Dacita and Rainha da Bateria lining up for the Grade 2 Canadian, a 1/8 mile turf race which is a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re in’ for the Filly/Mare Turf; and Beat the Benchmark headed for the Natalma, which now is a Grade 1 turf race and a “Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Big Blue Kitten is a four-time graded stakes winner of almost $ 3 million but is 8 years old has been off the board in two starts this year and last saw action on June 11.
“He had a couple of minor setbacks,” said Brown. “I thought this race kind of made sense for him.”
Wake Forest, who began his career overseas, was very competitive in three Grade 1 outings this year before finishing 10th in the Arlington Million.
“It just wasn’t his day,” said Brown. “He needs to come back and show us what he has.”
Dacita and Rainha da Bateria both made their last appearances in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Diana, a 1 1/8 mile turf race in which they finished first and third, respectively.
“This race seemed like it fit their schedules,” said Brown. “Neither has raced on the turf course there; I hope they like it.”
Beat the Benchmark was successful in her debut at Saratoga, coming from just off the pace to record a neck victory over 5 ½ furlongs of turf.
“She’s doing very well,” said Brown.
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