Bad Beat Brian this summer at Ellis Park (Jennie Rees)
Kentucky HBPA Press Release
LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Trainer Brittany Vanden Berg really, really wanted to get Bad Beat Brian in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last Saturday at Keeneland. The 5-year-old gelding had finished fourth — losing by only a total of two lengths — to international star and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Woodford in early October. But a stumble at the start of the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint might have been the difference between Bad Beat Brian being selected for the Breeders’ Cup and not.
“He broke so fast, the ground just kind of came away from him and he stumbled,” Vanden Berg said. “It put him in a spot where he had to check behind a couple of horses, and he still came running. He showed us a lot of heart there. We felt we were part of that company in there, with Golden Pal the favorite and only getting beat two lengths and not having the best trip.”
So Vanden Berg’s Plan B is the Claiming Crown’s $150,000 Tom Metzen Canterbury Memorial at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf for horses that have raced for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2021-2022. Bad Beat Brian won the race last year for trainer Mike Maker, the Claiming Crown’s all-time win leader at 19.
Vanden Berg claimed Bad Beat Brian for $40,000 at Ellis Park on behalf of owner Marsico Brothers Racing. In three starts for his new owners, Bad Beat Brian was third by a total of three-quarters of a length in a $100,000 stakes at Ellis Park and won an allowance race with an $80,000 claiming option at Kentucky Downs before the Woodford.
“I have a lot of confidence in this horse,” said Vanden Berg, who presently is based at Chicago’s Hawthorne Race Course after spending the summer at Ellis Park for the first time. “Right now he’s peaking. Every single race, he’s getting a little better, a little better. Training him, he just feels on top of the world.”
As she looks forward to being in the Claiming Crown for the first time, Vanden Berg admits being concerned about Friday’s light rain and if the chance for more Saturday morning could force the stakes off the turf. She said she’ll scratch if that’s the case. But in the meantime, Bad Beat Brian is the 5-2 favorite in the field of 11.
“He’s going to face a lot of tests (Saturday), and we’ll just see if he can step up to the plate,” she said.