FRANKLIN, Ky. (Friday, September 11, 2020) – With two wins from three starters on opening day and another four horses entered this weekend, Chad Brown – America’s champion turf trainer for eight consecutive years – has made a connection this season with Kentucky Downs, the one track in the U.S.A. that runs all its races on grass. Now that he has a Kentucky division based at Churchill Downs managed by Whit Beckman, the four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer is better positioned to compete for the exceptional purses offered by Kentucky Downs over its distinctive European-style course.
“I think a lot of it is just stabling at Churchill, the proximity now gives us that option,” Beckman said of running at Kentucky Downs, where an average of $2 million a day is scheduled to be paid out in purses over this six-date meet. “Where focusing primarily on Saratoga and the Northeast in the past, shipping-wise it didn’t make a lot of sense. You’d run in Kentucky on Derby Day and be out and back in New York pretty soon afterward. I think just having the string down here at Churchill makes it doable and easy. We’re in and out in a day, just like any other race-and-return situation.”
Now the friendly ribbing is that Brown finally found Kentucky Downs, and he didn’t waste any time capitalizing. His team pounced on Monday’s opening card and collected total of $500,400 with a victory by Juddmonte Farm’s Flavius in the $750,000 Tourist Mile Stakes and Head of Plains Partners’ Fluffy Socks in a $90,000 maiden special weight race.
“I’m thrilled getting to go to Kentucky Downs,” said Beckman, a Louisville product who never before had the opportunity to go to the track while working for New York-based Todd Pletcher and now Brown. “I thought it was an awesome place. Just such a nice place to race horses, just a different feel from your traditional racetrack dynamics. I loved it down there. I thought it was great.”
Led by Regal Glory, the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the one-mile G3 English Channel Ladies Turf, the Brown barn will be well-represented this weekend. Graded stakes-placed Tapit Today also has a place in the gate for the Ladies Turf; Klaravich Stable’s Front Run the Fed looks to be a contender in the deep G3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint field; Lady Lawyer is on the also-eligible list for the G3 Real Solution Ladies Sprint and needs a couple of defections to draw into the body of the race.
Brown’s rise to the top of the North American trainer’s standings table has been fueled by his skill with turf horses. After a five-year run on the staff of the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, Brown opened his own stable in Nov. 2007, managing a total of 10 horses sent to him by prominent owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Gary and Mary West. Brown’s first graded stakes win came a year later on the turf in the G3 Miss Grillo with Maram, who then gave Brown his first Breeder’s Cup win in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
In 2012, Brown ended the season atop the turf training earnings list, a spot he has maintained in every year since. Last year, his turf horses earned $24.2 million of his all-surfaces total of $31.1 million.
Regal Glory, bred and owned by Paul Pompa, made a substantial contribution to the Brown stable’s turf earnings last year, banking $338,834 with a 3-2-0 record from six grass starts as a 3-year-old. The daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom won the Penn Oaks and completed the Saratoga double of the G3 Lake George and the G2 Lake Placid. She is winless in three starts – two of them G1 races – since the Lake Placid last August. Each of those races was won by another filly or mare from Brown’s deep stable of female grass runners. Following a fourth-place finish in the G1 Just A Game at Belmont Park, Regal Glory was shipped to Kentucky in early August and has had five works for Beckman. Jose Ortiz, with two wins and three seconds in five starts on Regal Glory, has the mount.
“She’s been training away down at Churchill and we’re really happy with her progress and how she’s maintaining,” Beckman said. “She’s just been up against tough stablemates.”
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano rode Flavius in the Tourist Stakes and will be aboard Tapit Today for the first time in the Ladies Turf. The 5-year-old Tapit Today, co-owned by William Lawrence and Bradley Thoroughbreds, returned from a five-month layoff to run fourth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Nay Lady Nay, in the G3 Matchmaker on July 18 at Monmouth Park. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapit is seeking her first stakes victory.
Front Run the Fed enters the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint off a two-month break in races following his victory in an allowance/optional claimer at on July 5 at Belmont Park. He has been the favorite in his last eight races, winning four, topped by the Better Talk Now in 2019 at Saratoga. This will be his first try in graded-stakes company and first six-furlong race since April 2019 for the off-the-pace runner.
Rabbah Bloodstock’s Lady Lawyer, a daughter of Blame bred by Claiborne Farm, started her career in Europe with John Gosden. She was moved to the U.S. to Brown’s care this season and has a win and a second in two starts for her new trainer. In her most recent start, she prevailed by a neck in the 5 ½-furlong allowance/optional claimer, her first win on turf. All three of her wins in Great Britain were over artificial surfaces.
Photo Credit: Mike Kane