Welcome to this week’s edition of America’s Best Racing’s Main Track.
Each week in this spot we’ll present the most meaningful story of the past seven days, detailing a story that will stand out because of its importance or perhaps the emotional response it will generate.
Looking ahead, if you believe there’s a story this week that should be featured in next week’s edition of the Main Track, let us know by tweeting it to @ABRLive using the hashtag #ABRMainTrack.
As for this week’s story, forget pastels, it’s Brown that is racing’s most fashionable color this summer.
Realistically, when a trainer wins the Triple Crown for the second time, especially with a colt who did not make his first start until Feb. 18, he should get an Eclipse Award. So expectations are rather high that Bob Baffert will be on hand at Gulfstream Park in January to receive his fifth award as the sport’s outstanding trainer.
This past weekend’s results at Arlington International Racecourse only added more evidence that it’s Brown’s world and we’re all paying rent.
Not only did he win the Grade 1 $600,000 Beverly D. Stakes for a fourth straight year – and fifth time overall – his four horses in the race accounted for a 1-2-3 finish. Favorite Sistercharlie was victorious as the 8-5 favorite, Fourstar Crook was second as the 4.90-1 third betting choice and Thais was third at 47.40-1.
If you boxed the Brown horses in the trifecta, you collected $397.80 off of a $2 wager.
Then, a race later, in the prestigious $1 million Grade 1 Arlington Million Stakes, Brown made it back-to-back wins – and his third win overall - in the famed mile-and-a-quarter turf stakes, when Robert Bruce prevailed by a half-length over stablemate Almanaar in “only” a 1-2 finish for the 39-year-old trainer.
Brown did finish second with Analyze It in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Saturday, showing he’s human, but nevertheless he still rates as the Arlington International Festival of Racing’s second-most celebrated figure, trailing only Mr. D. himself, Richard Duchossois.
"I feel guilty, because so many of the people who make this possible are back home working," Brown told Bloodhorse.com after Robert Bruce’s victory. "I bring my horses here and I love it. You have to have the horses, and you have to have the people to work with. This is one of the greatest places in the world to race horses."
His hugely successful Saturday afternoon in Chicago gave Brown eight Grade 1 wins in 2018 and pushed his yearly earnings to $15.5 million, trailing only Steve Asmussen with $18.5 million. Yet Brown has sent out less than half as many starters as Asmussen (494 to 1,169 as of Aug. 14), who has just two Grade 1 wins.
Which, of course, illustrates how the notion that Brown is just a superb turf trainer should be dead and buried by now. Yes, he’s exceptional with turf horses, but if you discount the chances of his horses on dirt, you’re playing with gasoline at a bonfire.
For among those eight Grade 1 wins is a victory by last year’s 2-year-old champion Good Magic in the Grade 1 $1 million Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park. With Justify headed to a new life as a stallion, Brown’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve runner-up is arguably the new leader of the 3-year-old division and looms as the likely favorite for the $1.25 million Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 25 – unless a flood of money pours in for the filly Wonder Gadot.
Yeah, Brown and his staff can train dirt runners.
One other thing: Brown is surely an intense competitor and does not suffer losing very well. Yet there’s a side to him that often gets overlooked. He has a deep, emotional attachment to his roots, both with his family and in the industry.
Walk through the backyard at Saratoga and at times, between his races, you might see him at a picnic table with family and friends from his nearby hometown of Mechanicville, N.Y.
Earlier this summer, he also joined the Board of Directors of the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.), which supplies free health and social services to backstretch workers at New York’s racetracks.
“I’m honored that was I was elected to participate in this important organization. I look forward to contributing in any way I can to help continue their cause of improving the life of our backstretch family,” Brown said in a press release announcing his election to the board. “All my co-workers are like family and B.E.S.T. is a wonderful organization that does so much for them and the entire backside. I’m excited about the possibility of B.E.S.T. continuing to grow and doing even more for all of the backstretch workers.”
In the same release, Paul Ruchames, the Executive Director of B.E.S.T., talked about the importance of having such a prominent horseman on the Board.
“It is of utmost importance to raise awareness for our organization and the work we do, and Chad will be an enormous asset in those efforts,” Ruchames said. “I know he’s enthusiastic about our mission of providing medical care and social services for the backstretch workers. He’s eager to get involved, and that says a lot about him.”
Indeed it does.
Just as it did last weekend at the Arlington International Festival of Racing when Chad Brown once again enjoyed a world of success.
Here’s some of the other noteworthy stories that made for a lively week in the U.S. Thoroughbred racing industry: