Brown Sticking Close to Blue Grass Winner Sierra Leone

April 7, 2024

Sierra Leone ahead of his powerful victory in the Blue Grass (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

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Keeneland Barn Notes

LEXINGTON, Ky.— Trainer Chad Brown usually is a man on the move, but for the time being he is going to be hanging around Keeneland.

“I’m not going to get too far away from this guy,” Brown said Sunday morning of Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner Sierra Leone, who stamped himself as one of the favorites for the 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve with his 1½-length victory Saturday in the 100th running of Keeneland’s most famous race.

Sierra Leone, owned by the partnership of Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg Limited and Brook Smith, gave Brown his third Toyota Blue Grass victory. His previous winners were Good Magic in 2018 and Zandon in 2022.

Good Magic ran second in the Kentucky Derby. Zandon was third. Brown plans to follow the same pattern with Sierra Leone of one work here before shipping to Churchill Downs and then one work over the track there prior to the Derby.

“Both of those ran well in the Derby,” Brown said. “They didn’t win, but they ran well.”

In addition to Sierra Leone, Brown figures to have a second Derby starter in Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Product. Winner of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on March 9, Domestic Product is stabled at Payson Park training center in South Florida.

Brown also picked up a Kentucky Oaks (G1) starter Saturday when Klaravich’s Regulatory Risk ran second in Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct to pick up 50 points and be firmly ensconced in the top 14 point earners for the race.

“The one I really want to run in the Oaks is Ways and Means (for Klaravich),” Brown said. “She’s No. 15 in points now and I have been in that position before with Dunbar Road (in 2019). She didn’t get in and that just killed me, and then she went on to win the Alabama (G1).”

Following his runner-up effort in the Toyota Blue Grass, Qatar Racing, Resolute Racing and Marc Detampel’s Just a Touch was scheduled to go to Churchill to continue training for the Kentucky Derby.

Scheduled to go to Churchill on Wednesday is Toyota Blue Grass fourth-place finisher Dornoch.

“I may have shipped him in here a little too close to the race,” trainer Danny Gargan said of Dornoch’s Thursday arrival for owners West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables. “He ran good but got a little tired. He’ll run better next time.”

Gargan picked up a second Derby starter earlier Saturday when Society Man ran second in the Wood Memorial (G2) Presented by Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct. Society Man picked up 50 points to move to 17th on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard for the race that is limited to the top 20 point earners and invitees.

Gargan is part-owner of Society Man with West Paces and GMP Stables.

“We are proud and excited,” Gargan said. “I only had 15-18 2-year-olds last year and only five that were not New York-breds. To have two in the Derby is pretty incredible.”

Society Man is scheduled to ship to Churchill on Wednesday.

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